Thursday, February 4, 2016

2015 Recap, Where I Spare You the Cheese

I think I should have more positive things to say about last year than just that my daughter got married and the wedding turned out beautiful.  I'm sure that I should have sage words about learning through hardship, loss and grief. About still finding something to smile about every day, even when I've felt yuck so many of them.  About goals for the future, things I want to change.  That sort of thing.  Sorry, I'm just not feeling it today, though obviously these things are true.  I'll save that stuff for a day when I have an introspective, fuzzy-focus photo of me looking out into the distance, engaging in deep thoughts.  It will be labelled under "cheese" in the sidebar.

Instead, I'll talk about one of the purposes of my life:  to knit 48 thingies in one year and have enough hats to wear a different one each day of our short winter.  These are also things that can test and refine men's souls, are they not?

So, enough about a draining year and onto the knitting re-cap. 15 sweaters, people:

I went to my first knitting event: Veera and Joji Knit America at Madtosh Crafts, for which I knit Dragonflies and Twenty Ten because Joji and Veera design them, respectively.  I'm so glad I went to this event.  Aside from fangirl-ing the designers, I got to spend time at The Madtosh store before it closed later in the year.  The other one was also a first.  It was the most modified, souped-up, pattern mash-up I've ever knitted.  It was also a TV themed sweater, inspired by The Killing.  

6 of my 15 sweaters were cropped, something I've only done once or twice before, for a summer knit:


My neck will never be cold again.  I followed my first shawl, knit the year before, with 7 more in 2015.  There were also 3 more cowls.

This is one, crazy long scarf.  It used up lots of Unicorn Tails I won at Madtosh and pretty scrap yarn.  I was particularly proud of how I hacked the original pattern to make what stash I had work and look good together since I was short many of the madtosh colorways.  My living room was a wreck through the whole project, but, hey... a long, wacky scarf. This was another TV-inspired knit for the Gilmore Girls KAL, based on a scarf Rory wears in a Spring Break episode.

My miscellaneous knits were really unique: a super cute knitted skirt, a pair of rather fancy, fingerless mitts, and a couple of headbands knit from recycled yarn. I had nothing like any of these in my wardrobe.

Two Simcoe Headbands of recycled yarn,  New Girl Skirt, and Cedar Glen Mitts.

And 4 dischloths!  Don't forget those little guys that adorned the wedding gift I put together for my daughter and son-in-law.  Aren't those vintage Pyrex bowls the best?  I really don't think I've ever knit a dishcloth before, maybe once.

From 52 Weeks of Dishcloths: Firefly, Ridge, Slant, and Starflower.

There were hats a plenty in 2015.  Fourteen to be exact. This is a good time to mention another big knitting deal for me this year- test knitting for Tara-Lynn Morrison's Good Night, Day Book.  That's what the group of hats in the photo below were for, along with a few sweaters and several cowls/ wraps.  It was a hectic time, test knitting while my life went crazy, but I'm so glad I did.  However, this is why so many of my project photos became model-less, quickie phone pics.  I'm still not quite back in the true photo/blog post groove yet.

Karite, Go!, Mono Toque, York Bobble Toque, Mattawa Zig Zag, and Jarvis Fisherman Toque.

Another first for me was being so scattered that I had like 6 knits on the needles at all times and no photos taken on many before the year end, which is why you're just now seeing this in February.  If I can improve my editing and computer skills quickly enough, I may follow this with a 2015 Knitting Outtakes Slideshow.  It may even top Worst. Knitting. Photos. Ever.

I'm glad I reviewed my crafting year.  I feel much better than when I started this post and began thinking about this not-so-easy year.  I look industrious, organized, and accomplished even, after writing this.  The fact that I've got unfinished posts on about 3 years worth of room remodels, DIYs, vacations, and that beautiful wedding I mentioned, can be overlooked for now.

AH!!!!! Happy 2016 super late my Friends and my Knittas!  May this year be the lovely, joyful year we crave.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

After the Massacree

Aside from my Sunset Shawl, I had two sweaters on my needles that I was trying so hard to finish before the first of February, when three knitalongs will be starting.  I did finish Clarke, (Thank goodness it fits just fine.  I needed a break.), then I moved on to finish Pomme De Pin.   People, I could've finished it before the first.  I had half a sleeve and the collar and a day and a half to work on it.  But somewhere, mid-sleeve, I woke from my usual fog and realized I'd screwed up every centered,double decrease stitch in the entire sweater.

A centered, double decrease (or CDD, for those in the know) figures heavily in this pinecone lace pattern.  All of those CDDs create a nice vertical line as they line up, one under the other.  Mine didn't.  I must have misread the definition somewhere on the web because I knew it was wrong, but as usual, I just plugged on with my knitting, finishing the body, thinking, "Hmmm, maybe it'll look better with blocking."

Then I finished the first sleeve.  "This doesn't really look like pinecone lace."

Then I was halfway through the last sleeve when I finally, finally looked the term up online again.

A flock of birds fled my neighborhood, then there was silence.  This time there were no shrieks bouncing off distant mountain ranges.  No, I was pretty cool about it.  In fact I kept my face a blank mask... the rest of the day.  My son got in the car after school to find The Mask.  The kitten crawled up in the lap of The Mask.  What was that hovering over the soup pot at supper time?  Why, The Mask, of course.

Then I saw the True Friend sweaters being knitted by both Dani, of Little Bobbins, and Vanessa, of Kill to Craft, on Instagram.  I was really tired of ripping out all of that lace, and I did have the yarn for True Friend in my stash.  I had bought it when Veera and Joji were at Madtosh Crafts for knitting classes.  It was a sign.  I was meant to bury my sorrows in a new project, one that would be the perfect distraction for the already distracted mind.

I'm using Madelinetosh in Esoteric and Antique Lace and working on it as part of Vanessa's Kill to Craft Sweater-along.   When I'm finished with that, I want to knit Reindeer, by Alina Schneider, for the Sweater-along, too.   This is a special knit for me as Alina is a good Ravelry friend and this is her first sweater pattern.   It's gorgeous and I'm hoping my Malabrigo in Azules does the cable work justice. It is more variegated than I thought from the little photo on my computer screen.

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

Now that it's February, there are two more knitalongs starting:  The Great Northern KAL, for which I'm making Cherry Pie in good, old Patons Classic Wool.

And The 2016 Holla Knits KAL.  I can't resist a HK knit-along.  I'm knitting the Thing to Wear Cardigan, also in a Malabrigo combo.  More about these late.r

So, I think my mind will be successfully distracted from the Pomme de Pin massacre.  That's pronounced "mass-a-cree."

Okay so that's four sweaters, a shawl, and my 2016 sock goal.  I'm hoping that drowning my sorrows won't bury me in unfinished projects this spring.  What do you drown your knitting sorrows in?  Katrina already told me, on instagram,- ice cream.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn Club

I'm halfway though my Simple Spring Shawl.  I love how it's turning out.  It's a very easy to memorize pattern, which let me work on it when I was talking or re-watching The X-Files.

I once shied away from very vibrant colors in my knits.  I suppose that was because I wore a mostly neutral wardrobe.  I didn't think they were very "me."  But I've found I love having accessories like this.  They are me, in that everything in my closet is a perfect backdrop for them.

I'm so glad I made this into a shawl instead of socks.  I have found myself wearing my other shawls quite a bit, even though we don't have very cold winters here.  And this colorway is so autumnal it's killing me.  The top photo is filter-less and captures the true colors in this skein.  I think it so compliments the border.

Muchier Muchness is still exclusive to Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn's Winter Yarn Club, but there may still be a couple of openings left.  Ashley signed me up for that club and asked if I'd review her yarn and the club.  Honestly, I'd already used her yarn and loved it, so she didn't have to do that.  I tend to brag on all of the dyers and designers I like anyway, but I will go a little further than that now.

Since I'm halfway through a shawl with this skein, I can safely say it is lovely to work with.  I'm no aficionado, but I know a quality yarn when I use it.  There are no knots, it runs smoothly between my fingers and knits up in a way that is pleasing to my eye.  All of which is true of this yarn.

I wasn't sure if the Muchier Muchness colorway would pool in a strange way, being so variegated, but it looks awesome in my shawl.  This shawl is knit side to side.  If you're wondering how it would look knit in a traditional top-down shawl, check out Ashley's progress on a shawl of her own design that is knit that way.  Then there's socks.  I couldn't bring myself to do that with this colorway but, looking at Melissa's (misocrafty) socks I see they're equally as stunning.  For more examples of Ashley's colorways you can see my Prim hat and Elder Tree Shawl, which is my favorite shawl to date.

Aside from the obvious beauty of the yarn, there's the fun of having a theme, which is Alice in Wonderland this installment.  It gives you a clue as to what's coming in the mail, but still leaves you surprised when opening it.  I also love seeing how dyers interpret the colors in a scene into a yarn colorway.  I'm anxious to see February's Red Queen yarn.  I'm thinking it will be very appropriate for Valentine's Day.

It's worth mentioning that each installment of this club runs for three months and is a really good price for a monthly yarn club.  If you opt for one skein a month, it is about $79 USD ($110 in CAD), which includes shipping.  I don't know of another yarn club that compares.  I certainly can't think of ny other indie dyer I could order 3 skeins from at this value.  If I should want to knit something larger than a shawl or pair of socks, there is a 2 or 3 skein option in the club.  I think sometimes Ashley has extra skeins on hand for single skein members to add to an order too.  So, I'm hopping on this train.  I just signed myself up for the Spring Fingering Weight Yarn Club.

Ashley included a note in my last order, saying I might just be hooked on their yarns.  I think that's a safe assumption.  I am definitely going to feed my love of shawl and sock knitting.

Oh, and Potsy approves, too.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Go! and So She Did

This is it!  The last of my projects from 2015 to post about.  Thanks to my sweet girl for contributing these photos she and her husband took on a recent camping trip.  This hat was one of her Christmas gifts from me and it looks as though she already has a request from one of her friends for me to knit another.  It's called Go!  and so that's what she did.

This was part of my billions o hats project.  Not really, but it does seem as though I've knit a lot of hats in the last few months.  For this one, I chose Knit Picks Capra yarn, a soft merino/ cashmere blend.  Knit using size US3 and 4 needles, it knit up super quick and needed no modifications.

This was an extra special knit for me because it's my first knit from the patterns I won in Andrea Mowry's instagram giveaway celebrating one year of designs.  (Click on the link for serious cuteness.)  Her one year of designs is pretty huge, guys.  It's like what most knitters knit in a year, not really the amount of work you expect from a designer.  I don't know how she does it, but I'm so glad she does because I have several queued up already: Vintage Prim, Briochealicious, Marley,  and some Modern Mukluks.

Andrea has stepped out into sweater design now too with White Pine.  Of course I wanna knit it, but, Guys!  I am about to be up to my neck in KAL sweaters.

One thing I've learned from knitting my own Prim hat, by Andrea, is that these hats look a bit too fitted until blocking.  You can see, in the link, that my Prim hat isn't quite slouchy enough in these pre-blocking photos.  After blocking, it is absolutely perfect.  The same was true of Go!  It has just the right amount of slouch.

She cracked me up when she said she found herself saying the kinds of things I say when I set up a shot and then hand the camera to someone else.  "No, keep it level."  "Don't move it!" "Just stand where I am and hold it still."

(modeled photos by Julia Carter on her instagram, my ravelry, kollabora, flickr, and my instagram)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Favorite York Bobble Toque

This is my second, and favorite, York Bobble Toque to have knit.  I used a lovely indigo-blue single ply wool from Tara-Lynn of Good Night, Day.  This deep blue color is just my favorite shade of blue right now.  I find myself wanting to knit dark blue sweaters, dark blue shawls, and wear my lapis lazuli necklace over and over.

I've knit this one before so it was old hat (heh!) with size US 1 needles for the ribbing and US 3's for the rest.  Not much else to say about it.  It's perfect from the yarn to pattern to finished object.  I love it when a knit is this easy.

You guys!!! the new X-Files is tomorrow! Sorry, my sci-fi Tourette's kicked in.

I thanked my daughter for throwing this on for me to get some pics, while she was modeling her Kingston sweater, but this hat is mine, Dear ... all mine.  The phone photo, up top, is closer to the real color of the hat.  I'm not sure why my camera wasn't picking it up accurately, but whatever, it's been a month since I finished this hat. I just wanted to post about it.  Now, I only have one 2015 knit left to post to my page.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Kingston Sweater

The Kingston Sweater is another test knit from 2015.  I can't recommend this pattern enough if you want a chill weekend sweater project.  I loved knitting it.  I will absolutely be making another with longer sleeves and solid yarn soon.

I had time to order yarn for this test knit, but when I received it, it wasn't as bulky as I'd hoped.  I'd already planned to hold it double, but that still didn't make a dense enough fabric.  To fix this I added 5 stitches to both front and back and 2 stitches to each arm.  I don't like mucking with the numbers of a test knit, but I'd already made a cardigan version of this, so I knew the y would work out as written.   I was also trying to crank these knits out for the designer and didn't want to wait on another yarn order.

That is my one regret about three of my test knits- I wasn't pleased with my yarn choice.  I feel like they deserved better yarn than I had on hand.  Oh well, that gives me something to look forward to making in the future.

The details:  I used size US 10 needles for the ribbed neckline and moved to size US 15's for the body.  The pattern is very adaptable, allowing for more or less raglan increases depending on your size, so I did a few extra to compensate for the thinner yarn.

About this Sylvan yarn- I thought this was a softly variegated yarn when I purchased it, but it is a bit more striking in person.  It also stripes.  After swatching with two strands held together, at different points in the color changes, I felt that I couldn't get an even variegated look.  So, I held my strands together at the same points in the color pattern and let the sweater be striped.  This required shorter sleeves as all of the skeins were different.  It's not what I intended but I don't think it looks bad.  Will I buy this yarn again?  No.  It's not my favorite look for thick and thin yarn, but it did have a good texture.  If they made it in a solid color, I would've stockpiled it.

This is on the smaller side, so I gave it to my daughter, who wore it for these photos.  It's wonderfully soft and very comfortable.  You can find this pattern and more in Tara-Lynn Morrison's Good Night, Day knitting pattern book.  Though I've knit everything in it, I've ordered some super bulky yarn to knit myself a Kingston.  I have a couple of really nice recycled skeins for my own Innisfil Tank.   In the stash, there's a skein ready for another Omemee Toque, two contrasting colors for another color-blocked Jarvis Fisherman Toque, and a second Leeds Halter Top already in the works.  You can see I'll be going back to this pattern book again and again.

My perfect winter weekend, whenever it happens, will look like this:

I'll wake up, wrap up in some of my many hats/cowls/sweaters/etc. to walk my dog.  That's my big chance to use my knits.  Then I'll brew some coffee, eat banana pancakes, and sit on my spot at the end of the couch to work on a Kingston Sweater while reading some really good fantasy book.  (At the moment, it's Warbreaker.)  Now, to make that happen....

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

What's your perfect weekend look like, knitting-wise?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Outings and Nostalgia

I've been kind of cloistered away the last few years.  There were various crisis happening, and setting aside time to get out or relax was difficult.  I'm also at that awkward time where my children are growing or grown and have other things to do besides family vacations.  (Like getting married...) Even so, I did make time for a camping trip and some fun day trips that were the kind of thing I couldn't easily do when the kids were young.  It helps to soothe the melancholy "empty nest" feelings I've been having.  My nest isn't actually empty but having a teenage boy at home can feel a lot like not having a teenage boy at home, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, due to the aforementioned strange years,  I've neglected to post about these fun trips and many other things I saw, did, or felt.  I'd like to write about them in the next few months because this blog is really the only scrapbook I actually open anymore and I want to remember some good things.  In other words, be prepared for stale images.

I guess it's safe to post about seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens now, huh?  Seeing that and going to a New Order concert in the same week took me squarely back to my childhood.  I vacillated between feeling 10 and feeling 15 that whole week.

 My daughter thinks it's cool that I've seen every Star Wars movie in the theatre.  My first Star wars movie, Episode 4, was when I was maybe 4 at a drive-in with my family.  I remember laughing as C3P0 and R2D2 crossed the corridor of Princess Leia's cruiser with bullets flying all around them, but never hitting.  Then I promptly fell asleep.  There were no quick releases to home DVD then.  All we had were kids' read-along book and record combos.  (I still have my read-along book.  It's the one Anthony Daniels signed at comic con a few years ago.)  Unless you were one of the few families with a laser disc or beta max player and a very expensive copy of the movie, you had to wait an eternity for Star Wars to come out for home viewing.  My brother bought me a VHS set of the original trilogy for Christmas/ birthday one year when I was around 18.  I was beyond thrilled.  I have watched those three VHS cassettes until they were a warped ruin (well, not the Ewok saga so much).

I don't really have anything to say about episodes 1-3, except that my husband and I saw them all when they came out and we don't own any of them.

So, for my husband's birthday, we all went on opening night to see the show and had much fun watching this new release in a packed cinema.  I love it when audience members cheer as their favorites take the screen and laugh at every joke, corny or not.  It completely amplifies the experience.  I was happy to be there, even if the movie had just been meh.  But it had the same earnest feel as the originals.  I appreciate a storyline and cast that's not too vast, since recent movies seem to be trying to outdo each other with how many storylines they can carry, simultaneously.

It's not that I want simple, I just don't want cluttered for the sake of more.  Of course I wish I'd have seen more of the original stars in this film, and more of them interacting to bridge the years for us.  But, after episdoes 1-3, I'm just glad it wasn't a Fraggle Rock reunion.  Is it a spoiler to say there were no animated, alien boy bands in a space port saloon?

Two nights later we drove into Houston to see New Order play their first show in The U. S. since the 90's...maybe?  I remember them coming to Texas in 1990.  I was a sophomore and wanted to see the band play, rather than go to prom with my boyfriend.  I couldn't imagine myself in a prom dress, so this was the answer.  He said we'd do it, but of course, we didn't have cars or willing parents/ older friends, so we did neither.

That was amended last Saturday night at the Day For Night Festival in Houston.  My husband and I got there in time to check out some of the other bands.  This was a widely varied group, so we just picked a stage and ate Indian food from a truck on the ground while we waited.  I just realized my husband has been with me for most of the concerts I've been to in my life - we've been married since I was 20.

I like outdoor concerts best.  Except Pink Floyd, when it rained and people mobbed the exits.  That was nuts.  For this one, we had the brilliant Houston skyline behind us and a very retro feeling light show in front of us when New Order took the stage.   Have I said that I love New Order yet?  I love New Order.  These songs are soundtracks to many memories and moods.  Anytime I work on a project I hear Thieves Like Us and channel Molly Ringwald, making her prom dress, in Pretty in Pink.  It was also our alarm song on our cd/clock for many, many years.  I had to change it from Ceremony because I could never go back to sleep after hearing the first few seconds of that one.   I'd just lay there, wide awake and melancholy with nostalgia.

(more on instagram)

That one and a Bizarre Love Triangle mix that I could swear emphasized that beautiful bassline more than the radio single, were big favorites.  There was driving around listening to Regret.  And, more recently, I hear Your Silent Face a lot on the Pandora Radiohead station.  (A glass of red wine and the Radiohead station are the perfect combo for chill cooking.)

A video posted by Michelle Carter (@michellecarte) on

Check out the light show.  It fit the whole Day for Night theme, I guess, but it so made me think of going to Pink Floyd laser light shows when I was young.


I hadn't heard any songs from their new album, but we enjoyed all of them and the odd films playing behind the band as they played.  The played Joy Division songs like Atmosphere and  Love Will Tear Us Apart, in tribute to Ian Curtis, and all of our New Order faves like Blue Monday and Bizarre Love Triangle.  At one point, I looked around me and almost everyone near me was about my age, filled with nostalgia too.

Bernard Sumner said this one, Temptation, is one of his favorite songs from any band.  It's mine, too. By the way, these links are mostly for me to re-live the concert whenever I feels like, but if you want a jolt of 90's nostalgia click away.  And if you want to know the best links of all, it's definitely your Silent Face and Temptation.

A video posted by Michelle Carter (@michellecarte) on