Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I Adopted a Thing and I Finished a Thing

If you know me from Instagram, you've probably seen the oversized puppy we've adopted.  I can't help but take photos of her because she's often in my face.  I'll post about her later, because I think taking a stray into your home is wonderful and metaphoric and rewarding.  It deserves it's own post.  It also deserves more than 30% of my brain power, which is about all you're getting here.  Sorry, guys.

I will say this much-  transitioning a 2 year old lab mix, who acts suspiciously like a year old lab, that has never been in a home and takes the direct path everywhere, even if it means flying over the leather armchair and the person it's holding, is tough.  And yes, it's infinitely worth it.

First it was just the basics of house training, then it was babysitting and introducing cats that kept me from my usual creative pursuits.  No photo taking, no knitting, no hair brushing.  I was at my absolute best the morning she got out of our fence and I was searching for her in my pajamas.

My knitting for the Summer Sweater Knit-along was at a stand-still.  My knitting for the Box o Sox KAL and Indie Designers KAL was barely happening.  And my work on a couple of languishing works-in-progress for the Graveyard Knit-along will probably not go much faster.  But, but, but.....

I finished a thing, guys!  It's Annie Rowden's Earlyrising hat that I've been wanting to make since she released it.  And now, it's finally mine!

This is a great cabled hat, but it's somewhat chunkier than the classic cables I'd think of for a hat.  That's what I like about it.  It's really squishy.  It can be worn unfolded, for a slouchier fit, or with the brim rolled up for a skull cap kind of fit.  I like it both ways, but Ill probably block it a bit longer so I can really get a good fold there.  I'm actually surprised it fits so perfectly, since there was no way I was going to knit up a swatch with all of the crazy happening around me.  This was pure knitting therapy.

Details:  I used Gynx Yarn's Merino Worsted in a OOAK colorway that's pink with hints of blueish gray in there.  It's a departure from my usual color choice and so I love it all the more.  I knit this using my size US 6 Karbonz for magic loop.  Believe me, you don't want to be using double points with a big galoot trying to jump in your lap every few minutes.

This was the perfect project for hectic knitting and tv knitting and taking-a-break-from-sweater-woes knitting.  I feel refreshed and ready to get back to those cardigan sleeves, now that my extra skein has arrived in the mail.

Annie has lots of other beautiful patterns, but Pasture is the one I really, really want to knit next.

Guess what?  We've actually had several really chill days in a row.  I think she's fully integrated.

Terrible photo, but you try wearing a wool hat in the heat of summer with a big dog trying to lick your face.  If you want to know about this crazy dog, I'll post her story, so far, tomorrow.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Indie Everything

It seemed fitting to use this Indie dyed yarn, from Miss Mothballs, for these Indie patterned socks, from The Sweater Collective, for the Indie Designer Knit-along.  That's right, I'm seeing how many times I can drop the word indie in one post.   Later I might watch Indi-ana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Nah, that's too much. Also, that movie stinks.

But aren't my Fine and Dandy Socks pretty?  I've been wanting to make them since they first popped up on Instagram.  So when my Reindeer cardigan became too large to bring with me most places, these give me some doctor's office knitting.  And there's been a lot of that.  It's checkup time for everybody.

I decided I wanted to use both of these skeins from Miss Mothballs Yarn because they seemed to fit the designs I'd chosen perfectly. Bird's Egg, in the Soft Sock base, is the one I chose for Fine and Dandy.  The Wild Rose, in Tough Sock, seemed very fitting for the Rose Hip Socks I want to knit next . I don't know that I'll get the second pair finished by the end of the KAL, but it's not about the prizes for me.  I'm looking for the community and motivation.  You can see a little mini of Unicorn Farts in the photo below, too.

This is a pretty, but tricky, stitch and I realized, after I was halfway through a foot, that I was adding an extra row between repeats.  Oh well, it still looks good.  Who'll notice?

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Continental's Confetti and Champagna

I called them this because the skein of Gynx Yarns, Confetti and Champagne, made me think of Christopher Walken's The Continental.  The actual name of the pattern is called Smooth Operator Socks, which should make me think of Sade.  Anyway, it's my first Susan B. Anderson pattern and it's made me a fan.  These knit up in seconds:

A video posted by Michelle Carter (@mysocalledhandmadelife) on

... practically.  I'm so pleased with how these turned out.  It was my first afterthought heels and the glitter yarn gives it a celebratory look, right?

Susan's pattern is a go,go,go kind of design.  I mean, everything is placed and paced to just come together with as little fuss as possible.  You can stop knitting the sock to do the heel whenever.  Then you can close up your heels and toes without a yarn needle for Kitchener if that's more convenient.  She walks noobs like me through the whole thing step by step.

It's also a handy reference you can pick and choose techniques from.  Had I wanted to slow down and read more about what I was doing, I could've.  For instance, I didn't want to overwhelm myself, so I just knit the afterthought as directed and skipped some added tricks you can employ to get an even smoother finish.  But I did use her Kitchener-less heel and toe to close things up when I was finished.  Next time, I'll try some of the the tricks I omitted.

The heel looked very triangular and narrow after knitting, but the fit is perfect.  I do have a narrow heel and foot, but I'm hearing lots of knitters say it fit them just right, so it must be a universally perfect afterthought heel.

Details:  I used size US 0 circulars and Gynx Yarns' Glitz Sock to knit my socks two-at-a-time.  I didn't think ahead, when dividing my yarn for each sock, and also create a center pull to use on the heel for each.  Honestly, that sounds a little crazy to have all of that hanging from my needles.  But if I were to knit them one at a time, I'd definitely try it.  Or I could just unwind enough of each skein to have matching heel stripes.  Since I didn't consider that, I just used some Valley Yarns Huntington in natural for my heels and toes.  I think it looks pretty with this colorway, though I dread to see how covered with dog hair it will be after one wearing, though.

Do you realize my beautiful box of socks will soon be sullied with wear?  I kind of miss the days when we didn't have to contend with pet hair, just dust.  But our lives are fuller now and we love our weirdos too much to go petless.  So I have a lint roller dedicated to the living room furniture and we sweep and vacuum a lot.  Speaking of the box, I really to get that going, as the hashtag #pileosox would be more fitting.

Details:  I used size US 0 needles and one skein of Gynx Yarns' Glitz Sock in the Confetti and Champagne 5th anniversary colorway.  Guys, I have enough of this for another pair of socks if I want!

For the heels and toes, I used some Valley Yarns Huntington in natural.  I used a 56 stitch cast on and tried the non-Kitchener toes and heels.  So far so good on those.  I'll be interested to see how they wear over the long tern, but then this will be my first winter to really wear many hand knit socks.

For next time, I'll remember to knit my legs longer.  I don't know how practical it is, but I rarely get to wear knitted socks, so when I do, I want there to be some meat to them.  I also might try double points to see if the gap created between needles is less than that of magic loop.  It's a pain to try to fix that when blocking.

I usually finish a post on an FO by saying what I'd like to knit next from the designer.  Sometimes I get to it, sometimes I don't.  With Susan's page, some of my favorite knits would have to be future knits because they're either accessories or toys for children and I don't have any I'm knitting for right now- her Rav name is Itty Bitty Knits for a reason.  When that day arrives, I can so see myself making her Giraffe and the Little Dragon.  Both would look great in semi-solids, with speckles.

For myself, I already had her How I Make Worsted Weight Socks pattern in my favorites, to make cabin socks for my husband.  That one is gonna happen, really it is.

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

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.