Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Purple Kool Aid

I'm a little hesitant to show this very purple hat because, honestly, I think the garish colors mess up an otherwise lovely hat pattern.  But it's Mid-County Madness week and things be purple in my hometown.  Since I have the Petawawa pattern memorized from making two really beautiful versions, I decided to cast one on as a last minute Band Secret Pal gift in our school colors.  Actually, my son texted me that he forgot he had to have a gift ready for his pal that same night.

For a Team hat, it's not bad at all, right?

(on my ravelry)

I think I've mentioned our town's football obsession.  Well, with another child in high school band, I'm getting a full dose of southerners screaming, "Come on D!"  Personally, I love sitting near the band.  It is a real October nostalgia kind of thing for me, especially with my little man taking part on his trombone.  He's second from the end in the video below.  

The night they played Shambala was bliss: it was cool-ish, I love Three Dog Night, and I love band nerds. 

A video posted by Michelle Carter (@michellecarte) on

Our town and the rival team next door had a chance at the first Bum Phillips Bowl trophy and so the stands were packed.  We squished in where we could because this is not comic con- I'm not showing up three hours early for "good seats" at a high school football game.

However, it was a nail biter, even for me.  I always feel bad for the players when people complain about them in the stands.  When the clock ran out, our running back was three yards away from going into overtime.

Grown men wore grim expressions and the students chunked their empty baby powder bottles onto the other team's field in frustration as we filed out of the cramped stadium.  All of that powder inhaled for nothing... except thcool thpiwit.  That's school spirit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Books I Can Recommend to my Kids

I love reading a good series of books that I can recommend to anyone.  Well, my grandparents wouldn't get this one, but just about anyone else would, especially if they like sci-fi or fantasy. 

I heard about Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy by chance and half expected them to be simplistic, young adult novels.  A chapter or so in, I still couldn't tell what audience it was aimed at, but I could see that it wouldn't be a predictable read.  After a few more chapters, I quit picking apart the dialogue and just read like the addict I was.  

(image via pinterest, book on Amazon)

I think I expected a stereotypical, space filler between my reading other novels.  But what I got was a truly thought-out story, set in a world unlike any I'd ever read about, and going in a direction I could not guess.  I actually cared about the characters and the action scenes were crazy- each one topping the last. 

Why did I think this was a kid's book?  Am I jaded by the fact that most adult books/ movies are full of edgy content to satisfy, or define, the desires of my generation?  I don't care about that stuff, I just expect it.  It was so refreshing to just get a story- not one pushing the boundaries of social mores, but pushing the boundaries of my imagination.  There is death, disillusionment, cruelty, and a fairly macabre storyline in there, but it is all told so well.  

Ever since I began the set, I've been trying to convince my kids to read it.  Of course, they show little interest because of my interest.  I may have won my daughter over.   She was talking to a friend who's away at University who said she'd missed a class or two over this great series she was reading.  Before she could say what it was, my daughter just knew it was going to be Mistborn.   

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.