Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Canyon

I started Canyon , by Mel Ski, earlier this summer on a day trip to Galveston Island with my daughter and her husband.  It sounds so idyllic... being on the isle... finding shells... knitting the hours away next to clear blue water.



Reality was restful, but not quite so perfect.  The water just isn't as pretty as instagram makes it seem, and there had been recent warnings about waterborne viruses, so I didn't swim.  I did get in up to my ankles to run along the beach, dodging jellyfish.  And it's nice to lay on the beach and talk with people you love.  Plus, I found a sea bean- always a satisfying experience.  


We took the ferry, perused an antique store, and had a really good meal downtown.  But I'm totally in it for the sea beans and shells.

Back to Canyon:  I needed a stockinette, fairly simple knit for that trip and for knitting in the theatre  later in the week.  Knit on larger needles, this top grows very quickly and is easy to see in the dark.

I love everything about this pattern- the way changing the stitch creates shaping, the linen yarn, and the colorblocking.


I also like the easy way the edges roll under so there's no need for finishing them further.  The hi-lo hem is pretty awesome too.





Details:  I used size 7 needles, 2 skeins of Willow Yarns Field in Lobster and 1 skein in Pebble.   It was similar to the colors of the sample, which I loved, but I had a coupon code for Willow Yarns, so I choice them.


I found this cotton/ linen blend just a bit more linen-y than other such blends I've tried.  I liked it as much as a wool knitter can like knitting with linen or cotton.  I am adaptable and highly motivated to use plant fibers because of the incredible pore-opening, sweat hog heat I live in.  And the cotton content does make it easier to knit with than pure linen.


It's also an incredibly easy fiber to wear and care for.  However, when I washed it, I wet blocked it to make sure I had enough length, rather than more width.  I knit the medium size, but it was still looking a bit tighter than pattern gauge (mostly in length), so I added some length like this:

Mods on the front:  On the bottom stitch pattern, just before the stockinette portion begins,  I added 3 extra repeats of Rows 3 and 4 that I had just been working.

Then, on the stockinette bit, I added 3 extra rows of CC after the decreases, but before adding the MC stripe.  I then made the MC stripe 2 rows, instead of one, to avoid weaving in another end since I had carried my MC along the side.  So I added 6 rows to the bottom and 4 to the top.


Mods on the back: Just before shaping for the arms, I added 3 repeats of Rows 3 and 4 that I had been working.
Then, at the top, I added 4 rows of stockinette to the stockinette portion.   So I added 6 rows to the bottom and 4 to the top, as on the front.


I have to admit, I was unsure if these would sew up well together.  The back looked so big in comparison to the front.  But after carefully studying other finished projects, I realized that the seams are more toward the front of this top, not at the side as with most sweaters.


Seaming wasn't bad at all.  I use one locking stitch markers to hold the sides together where the arm hole should start and just eyed it the rest of the way.

I am glad for the length I added.  As you can see mine does not have the amount of ease as the pattern sample, but it's still oversized and comfy.  I am still getting used to my current shape and often reflexively pick patterns for the "old me" and am surprised when I try on a WIP and remember I have a chest and hips now.  In this case, it worked out fine because this had plenty of ease.   I'm very happy with it.

I'd like to get my daughter to try this on because I think she'd really like one and, being linen, it would be worn more often and be near indestructible with lazy washing habits.


I have some more of the Lobster color, to combine with a light pink, for the Pomelo bag from Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 13.

I also have yarn ready for Trail, another pattern in 6 Bits: Wander.  These collections are just the most beautifully photographed and knitted!

This is my first warm weather top to make this year and it's been insanely hot for months here.  Have you guys been making any progress on summer-weight knits?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hydrangea Socks

This is my project for Regina's Floralong in her Hydrangea Garden colorway.   I cannot get enough of watching these colors interact with each other as I add each round.  I think I've said it before, but it makes me think of all the colors of summer, slightly faded by the sun- like denim.  It's bright, but soft to look at.  It makes up for the sparse color, other than green, in my own garden.  Thankfully, I do have lots of green this dry summer.





Details: I used Kristin, of Voolenvine's, Favorite Sock pattern again.  It's the vanilla sock pattern that's permanently stuck in my mind.

I used size US 0 needles and though it looks too small when knitting, it blocks out to fit perfectly.  I don't think I've ever knit such perfect, tiny stitches before.   This is pair number 5 for the year, so I really should be getting better at this sock thing.



As I mentioned, I gave up on 9" circulars.  It doesn't gel with my knitting style and trying to alter that one more time would make knitting a chore, instead of a joy.  For whatever reason, my usual knitting mechanics rarely ever causes me wrist pain, and I'm a firm believer in "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."



My sock blockers have proven indispensable for taking photos of my knits, especially after the last pair.  My poor I Heart Bees socks had so much pet hair on them after being worn only seconds for the photos.  This is after sweeping and vacuuming.  Sigh.  Maybe I should knit a pair of swiffer socks just for the purpose of walking around and picking up all of the dog hair we can't seem to find any other way.  Though I normally find a few doggy hairs on my knits endearing, it was seriously detracting from the handwork, so I actually edited them out.   Seems a bit extreme, but whatever.


I see Regina has started another KAL for her Aquarium colorway, a more vivid combo of colors, too. You can catch up with her on The Herbstblatt Regina Podcast or in her Ravelry group.

My next colorway to knit of Regina's has got to be one of those Vikings colorways.  I've been really restrained about not digging into them until I got some things off of the needles.

And here's the source of my sock photo woes:  A sweet, shedding Spotacus.

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

My other post about these socks is here and has a great closeup of this colorway once knit.

Friday, July 8, 2016

I Heart Bees

I can't believe I haven't posted this finished pair of socks that I test knit for Vanessa Townley of Kill to Craft.  It's been a busy few weeks of boy scout activities and youth fundraisers, but here it is- the I Heart Bees pattern.




This design hits that sweet spot of being interesting while still being easy enough to memorize.  So you won't need to ignore your family members when knitting, unless you just want to.




Details:  I used this gorgeous skein of Comfort Sock, from Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn, in the April Showers colorway.  Most of these photos were taken on a dark day indoors, but the photo below shows the exact color.  I'm seeing a pattern in most of my sock color choices thus far in the Box o Sox KAL- lots of gray and blue.


Anyway, I followed the pattern directions for a size small exactly, only I accidentally used a US 0 needle on the second sock instead of the size 1s I used on the first.  There's a noticeable difference when they're on the sock blockers, but not really once they're on my feet.  I meant to use 0s for both because I tend to get a better fit that way.   Sheesh.

Isn't that honeycomb sweet?  And I love an eye of partridge heel!  It just feels classic.

I did want to say that as I was knitting up the leg it looked super tiny.  I was a little nervous that I'd swung to the opposite extreme of my old habit of making myself ginormous man socks and had, instead, made a baby sock.  But I trusted the pattern and when I blocked them, they stretched right out for the fit you see here.   I think if I'd loosened my tension while knitting, they would've been too big.


I can't recommend this pattern enough.  It worked for this variegated yarn and so it would look equally as lovely in a tonal or solid color.  I think I will knit this again in a honeycomb-ish color because I'm a beekeeper, of sorts, and I think this would look really great in a golden wheat or mustardy yellow.

I think I first saw Vanessa's knitting in the Pom Pom Quarterly group.  She has knit quite a bit from that mag, and I stalked a few of her projects.  Then I saw she'd just started a podcast- Kill to Craft and I've been enjoying keeping up with her making ever since.   She's got an impressive amount of personal designs on ravelry, too.

(more dark indoor photos on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and 
flickr, when they get their uploader working again)




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dresden Beret

The Dresden Beret, from Tara-Lynn of Good Night, Day is destined to be my favorite winter hat.  I have a lot of hats, so that's saying something.



I loved working up a no-frills, clean beret.  It's a type of hat I have never knit before.  I can see making one or two of these as gifts because they don't require the same amount of fabric that slouchy beanies of years past have.  This is a one evening knit, and that's very satisfying.

I actually scored a skein of Junkyarn for this.  I think the only reason I got it was because it is dk.  These days, shopping for sock yarn from indie dyers is like shopping the yearly Victoria's Secret clearance sale.  When I walk past that store and see all of those little pink bins on tables, I steer clear.  It's crowded, hands are grabbing and rifling through $5 bins, women muscling each other out of the way, underwear flying about.  I don't go for that kind of thing, so I was shocked to find this still in stock well after the update.


This skein of Diana had very few hints of the turquoise that most skeins seemed to have plenty of.   I was disappointed at first, but it worked out since I was aiming for simplicity.  It is more versatile this way.




Details:  I used needle sizes US 3 and 7 for this hat, with Junkyarn dk yarn in Diana.  I have very real issues with ribbing, so I go down a lot on needle size for that portion.  The bulk of the hat was knit on the 7s.  I also knit maybe a half an inch more than the pattern suggested before starting my decreases because I wanted a lots of "flop" to my hat.

It's beautiful.   My family members even looked up from their device voids to compliment it.  Now, please lets have that super cold winter that everyone talks about but never actually happens.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Uncle!

You know how I said I've been learning things as I knit socks?  Well, I've discovered something that has brought me to my knees- 9 inch circulars.  It's not a happy tale.

But, first, I'll tell you about the pretty yarn I'm using.  I don't know if I've posted any of the new yarn line I have been hoarding.  When Regina mentioned she'd be dying yarn on her podcast, I was excited for her, but I thought it might be out of my budget to order from Germany.

Then she announced her Vikings Colorway collection and I had to order.  Yes, I'm one of those people who buy yarn because it's inspired by something I like.  I was pleased to see that her yarn was actually very reasonably priced and ships faster than most yarns I buy in the states.  So I got some more.  And then some more.  Anyway, this is her Hydrangea Garden colorway, which has nothing to do with raiding and pillaging, but I had to have it.  Did my little phone pick up how beautiful these colors look together?  It's like summer, slightly faded by the sun.



That's not why I cried, "Uncle!"  That was a win.  My knitting stint with 9" circulars, however, was not.  It just didn't work for me.  Maybe it was the fact that I was beginning my sock in a dark theatre.

They showed The Godfather at the Jefferson Theatre for classic movie night and, since I'm having my own little vacation, I had to go.  It was the perfect experience for this movie.  It was packed and everyone laughed at the right parts- offers that can't be refused... horse heads- and it was as if I was seeing it for the first time.

The tiny circular did make it easier to transport and not lose stitches.  But, I kept knitting on them until the cuff was finished, well after the movie, and I was still having flow problems.


I think it's because I need the leverage of longer needle tips to flick in English style and get a tight gauge without hurting my wrists.  My wrists have been aching a little for a couple of days and I think it's from the tiny circs.

So, when I got to the heel flap, I switched to my long magic looper and am finishing with it.   I have successfully knit all of my socks this year on 0s and 1s without RSI, I don't want to muck with that now.


Maybe I'll try again one day.  But this is Staycation Week for me, so I'm doing only stuff I like, the way I like.  Here's a peek at one of my packages from Herbstblatt Regina.  There's a Hydrangea mini skein, which is what hooked me, a colorway inspired by Floki from Vikings (which is totally how I look if I wear makeup to knit outside in summer), and Vanilla Cupcake.

(ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Things I'm Learning About My Sock Knitting

I'm a little behind on my Year of the Sock goal.  This test knit for Vanessa of the Kill to Craft Podcast, is only my fourth pair.  I guess I shouldn't count the house slippers as pairs five and six.  Only, in my mind, they do count.

After knitting four more pairs of socks than usual, I wouldn't go so far as to say I have my "personal recipe" down, but I have learned a few things about what I like as I knit more socks.



Less is More: As in- less needle diameter equals less sock diameter, equals less floppiness, equals more likey.  I think I'm finally getting an even tension for my knitting and find I do better with size US 0 needles.  My gauge has been consistent on the last three pairs I have knit, thanks to my Karbonz and cheap bamboo.  I think my days of accidentally knitting floppy house socks are over.

Sock blockers give me confidence:  If the sock is a little tight before blocking, I know I've got it right.  After a soak and block, they fit perfectly.  So, I finally broke down and ordered some Bryson sock blockers in the small size.  I am so much more confident about the size I'm knitting if I can barely stretch the WIP over the blockers, but once wet, they fit well.  It also makes capturing the stitch pattern way easier than having to find a bright patch of sunlight on an area of floor that isn't covered in pet hair for a photo-op of a crumpled mess.  Now I just need to find a place to hang them where the kitten can't reach them. It is eery how well I know what things she will go for.  I knew she would covet them.  Right now, my method is to put the socks on the blockers and hang them over the top hinge of different doors, sticking out into  various rooms.  My son-in-law gave it a puzzled look, but it is the only safe place.  For the moment.

Cuff-down, toe-up... tomāto- tomäto: I also find that I don't really care whether I'm knitting cuff-down or toe-up.  It's all the same.  I've got a measurement for foot length that works for me and it can be plugged into any pattern.  It's now just a matter of convenience.  For instance, I'll probably start a cuff-down pattern at the movie theatre tonight so I don't have to think about decreases for the length of the show.

I don't want my family to shun me on movie night:  Once I thought I'd do all of my vanilla socks two-at-a-time, but I'm changing my mind.  It's not as portable as the lone sock and ball of yarn.  It's okay if I know I'll be knitting on my couch, which truly becomes my couch when I'm knitting.  I have room to let project bags, my iPad, and yarn, spread out.  Even the dog can run, jump, and slide across knitting books to find a little corner to sleep in.  But, no one is appreciating it in restaurants or during movies.  And guys, I thought I would lose my mind in that last X-Men Babies movie without something to knit on.  Let's face it, one of the reasons I started knitting was to avoid feeling a little bitter about the time suck of tv and movies that I didn't enjoy.  (The fact that I now watch plenty of tv of my own volition for the convenience of busying my mind while knitting, is beside the point.)   I need my hands working during a movie that is not wonderful.

Below, it happened to be an all day music fest where I was only interested in a handful of the bands.


So, Vanessa will probably release the sock pattern you see here by the end of this month.  I'll get some nice, blocked photos up around that time.

I need to knit up a couple of pairs of socks quickly to get back on track with the Box o Sox Knit-along.  Next up, I think I will join the Floralong with the Herbstblatt Regina group on Ravelry.  This KAL goes thru August, so I know I can finish a pair of easy vanilla socks, even when trying 9 inch circulars for the first time.

Are you doing any sock challenges this year, friends?  And how is it going?
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