Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Giant Sigh of Relief Project

Cumberland is my palate cleanser between sweater projects for the Brooklyn Knitfolk Hipster KAL.  I realize I won't finish both Heritage (below) and Feya before it ends, but the point is that it has motivated me to begin something that's not a Fade, not that I bear the Fade trend any ill will.  I knit Find Your Fade and  I loved wearing it that one cold day.

I am so relieved that Heritage is off the needles.  It was a fantastic knit, but I had yardage and personal gauge issues that meant I almost knit the whole thing twice.  So I was kind of sick of the Heron's Wing colorway by the cast off round.

Pulling out these two skeins of Gynx Yarns (in Charcoal and Lavender Tea) that I've been saving for a two color shawl, was so satisfying.  Even though my knitting time was limited, just knocking out the first stripe section last night erased all the frustrations from my mistakes on the previous pattern.  This was one of those times when people sitting next to you can visibly see the difference knitting makes in your well-being.

Cumberland is the perfect thing to help me switch gears from sweater re-knit mode.  It involves easy lace, stripes, and yarn that I love.  Like Heritage and Buckalope, it is designed by a Ravelry/ Instagram friend whom I love.  I know that it was just released by Appalachian Knits, and so hasn't had time to accumulate a ton of FOs, but I really wanted those stripes and it has less than 30 FOs, so I'm entering it.

The Hipster KAL includes lots of new patterns from new designers, that's part of the charm.  But it has sent me digging through old pattern books from when I first began knitting 15 years ago.  There are a ton of dog-eared pages with great designs on my shelves.  A Ravelry search on them often pulls up nothing, or maybe a bare page with no image.  These were pre-Ravelry and pre-Instagram patterns, back in the days when mamatronic sounded like a good email address and/or username.  There was no constant visual reminder that they existed and needed to be knit, like we have online today.  There was none of this visual fervor that pulls me along, like the sheep I am, to knit what I see all the other knitters around the world knitting right this minute.  But I want to remember these older designs, especially if they were the ones that first inspired me to pick up my needles.

I'm thinking maybe I should interject some of them into my queue, every third project or so.  It would be a "coming full circle" kind of experience..somehow... and freshen things up.

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

 What is your Giant Sigh of Relief project right now?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Blog Plans vs Planned Obsolescence

It doesn't matter how we stagger our device purchases, they all seem to become outmoded for our needs at the exact same time, every one developing issues that can't be totally addressed without addressing another's issues first.  It's like an obnoxious riddle that someone tells you to feel clever but you can't stay interested long enough to remember the beginning of it by the time it's finished.   So why would you bother trying to solve it?  This leads to a birthday gift of headphones becoming a gift of headphones plus a new phone that allows them to operate correctly.  Apparently we like to go "all out."  It also leads to many nights of googling fixes for our weird damaged program/ storage/ migration problems on our desktop.

I've been trying to squeeze another year out of my Mac but it is running like something the Professor rigged up with Gilligan to pedal as power.  Point is- since my declaration to blog more my son has hogged the computer each night for college admission stuff (that's all good) and then I've been trying  to migrate files from one hard drive to another so I can clear the photos from my phone and get an upgrade.  I love it when my computer tells me the estimated transfer time is "about a day."  Cute.  And then it still doesn't work.  I'm mentally shaking a fist at Apple.  

So here I am typing very gently, and very slowly, so as not to overwhelm my computer and cause the little pinwheel to run for eternity, which is the technological equivalent of rocking back and forth in fetal position.

All of these late nights of googling things have ruined my little bit of craft time.  My Heritage sweater is something from ancient myth.  I add rounds and rounds each night, only to wake up and find I still have the same number of inches to go.

My husband and I did head to Galveston to "get away" for a day, if driving 4 hours and waiting in a ridiculously long ferry line feels like a getaway to you.  I knit and he drives, so yeah, it's a getaway for me.  We ate lots of good food then walked along the beach, then he fell asleep for an hour or so while I took pictures of his open mouth as part of the Galveston skyline and knitted some more.  I don't think he felt better rested, but I'm sure it was nice just to get outdoors because he has been working a lot.  I think I actually see progress on this sweater now.  This is progress despite having my project notes partially consumed by one, or both, of my dogs while I was not around.  Thankfully they left the very most important scrap of the page for me to remember where I was in my increases.

In other important news- not really, unless you know how much we love our animals- our newest dog Ella, most likely the culprit of the digested knitting pattern, was declared heart worm free after one year of treatment.  So she is well!  Doofy, but well!!!

(more on ravelry, flickr, and instagram)

I sound gripey.  Sorry for that, but I am not daunted by the technology woes and I am very relieved about our dog.  I hope something unexpected and wonderful happens to you or those you love today!!!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saguaro Blossom Hat

The last hat I indulged in during the Any Hat KAL is the Saguaro Blossom Hat by Anne Podlesak.  I found this pattern in her Free Spirit Knits book, during an Interweave sale,  Have you seen the patterns from this book?  I am amazed that this hat pattern qualifies for the Brooklyn Knitfolk Hipster KAL because it is under 30 projects.  It's hard to believe that a hat with such interesting cables, and a beret, no less, wouldn't have tons of finished projects on Ravelry.  And who doesn't love a beret?

I'm looking mighty serious in these photos, but really I was just trying not to close my eyes for every. single. one.  That's why it is so much easier to look downward.  Looking at these, you'd never think I took them that particular day because I had on "lots" of makeup for something I had to attend.  Seriously, how could I feel all painted lady like that when I barely have visible eyebrows?  So weird.

Anyway, I have only made one beret, and it was a plain stockinette pattern.  So this hat was a departure from my usual.  I loved seeing how all of the cables came together at the top.  The only problem I had was keeping a steady gauge while knitting the ribbing.  I had to stop halfway through my knitting and rip back to re-knit it at a tighter gauge, and I still didn't tire of the cables.

Details: I used US size 4 needles for this hat.  You won't have to use so small a needle unless you also have ribbing tension problems.

The yarn is Circus Tonic Handmade's Hullabaloo Aran base in the Antarctic Prion colorway.  I looked up the prion and, yes, it's accurate.  Perusing Hannah's shop is like going bird watching.  I want to google every colorway name.  I loved the delicate addition of blue to this skein.  I thought it was perfect for an intricate cable pattern.  It doesn't distract. You can see the yarn, below, in a bag that also came from Hannah's shop.

I already told you I had issues getting the brim tight enough to fit my shrunken head.  Well, I re-knit the whole hat to fit on size 4s, but after blocking, the ribbing was too big again.  So I did that thing I hate to do.  I picked out the cast on edge of the hat and balled up my yarn as I ripped out all but the first row of the brim.  Working down from there was kind of a mess because I lost track of where my round began and ripped back to a random spot mid-increase round.  But I knew what stitch count I needed to decrease to (since I was knitting down instead of up) and just fudged my way through it.  Since the yarn was already blocked, one more tight knit of the ribbing got a truly good fit.  I could steam block the main body of the hat to be larger if I want, but I probably won't.  Anyway, I love the result.  All of the work was worth it.

The designer, Anne, is also the dyer behind Wooly Wonka Fibers, a shop I've heard of, but not yet tried.  Look at the color combo of this Jane Austen inspired mini set.

As far as Free Spirit Knits goes, there are 4 or 5 more patterns I'd like to make.  I don't know when I would get to them, but the Snowball Hoodie and Santa Fe Wrap are ones I'd like to knit soon.  I keep imagining it knit in colors that are subdued and not at all southwestern inspired.

Today is the last day of the Any Hat KAL.  I'm grateful to Andrea for getting me to think about hats.  They proved a nice stress reliever this month.  I added a few new patterns to my queue because of it too.  Since I'm also entering these in the BKHipsterKAL I thought I'd leave you guys with my best interpretation of a hipster photo.  One that looks like a Diana or Holga lens or else that faded vintage yeshica feel.  But, really, most photographs I see, and those I take, tend to look like they were made with vintage cameras, by way of high tech apps.  Here is my attempt at an extreme.

(more hipster fails on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

Friday, September 29, 2017

When your pom pom has a life of it's own, you know it's the correct size.

Now, my regular blogging can begin.  Now, that all of the hurricane clean-up/ moving my daughter is finished.  Now that I have completed my first week as a BSF CL (doesn't that sound important?) and feel more confident.  Now that I am back to a semi-normal schedule.  And now that podcasts are the new blogs.  Now...now, I will be regular with this blog.  Let the rambling begin, my friends:

Let me tell you how I soothed my stressed out nerves over the last few weeks.  I joined the Any Hat KAL, hosted by Andrea Jimenez on instagram toward the end of the SSKAL.  My first hat was her design, Buckalope.  I knit one, then I knit another.  This is so my answer to stress in life or stress in knitting.  There is nothing more satisfying than casting on a bulky weight hat over the weekend and having it be finished by Monday.

I've never worked a cabled hat like this, so it kept me interested.  But it's also too quick a project to become boring.  Then there's that sprinkled colorway.  This hat combines a few things I love- knitting hats between exhausting sweater projects, bulky yarn, fun colors, and giant pom poms.  Who cares if there is sweat beading on my upper lip in these photos?!  I love my giant woolly topper.

After finishing both versions of this hat, I realized that Andrea's pattern only has a few FOs logged on Ravelry, which makes this perfect for Brooklyn Knitfolk's Hipster KAL.  I joined the KAL to focus on sweaters or shawls, but have found myself knitting hat after hat.  I might as well include them.  They are also really good patterns that I'd like to see getting more love on Ravelry and Instagram.

I loved Andrea's version of this with the fur pom, but I think my giant, muli-colored yarn pom worked better for a speckled colorway.

Details: I knit this with US size 6 and 7 circulars and Red Sock Blue Sock's Big Squish base, in the Taste the Rainbow colorway.  My husband looked at this, when I began, and actually said that it looked like Skittles.  So, it's aptly named.  Guys, I love Red Sock Blue Sock.  Recently, I realized I've been hoarding their yarn that's in my stash, as if no project was good enough for it.  I will remedy this weird compulsion, beginning with my big Skittles Buckalope.
I also used a bit of Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering Kettle Dye in Compass.

I followed the pattern completely and loved every second of it.  I didn't think I had enough yarn for a really big topper without adding in a contrasting color, so I threw in some Compass strands.  I love the effect.  Plus the pom pom is so huge I can feel it rolling around up there, independent of my movement.  When you're pom pom has a life of it's own, you know it's the correct size.

Below, you can see my first version of this hat.  It worked up beautifully in two strands of Madelinetosh Pashmina worsted held together, but there wasn't enough yarn in the skein.  I omitted one round and went down to tiny needles, but it's just too small for an adult head.  Bummer, because Fir Wreath is one of my favorite colorways.

Now, I have a few more of Andrea's patterns I want to make.  I really need a Regalo Messy Bun Beanie.  My hair is getting to crazy cat lady length and I want hairdo options in the winter, especially when I run or ride bikes.  I hate using elastics all the time, so clips and a bun are the way to go.

Okay, so the BKHipsterKAL has a secondary challenge going to take the most hipster-esque photo of your finished item.  Tell me, friends, what is a hipster photo?

Is it Holga-like? 

or just different in some way?

or is it total cheese?


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Long Journey, Literally

Something...something got finished for the Summer Sweater Knit-Along through all of this vacation, then hurricane, craziness.  I didn't think it would happen when I had to frog my Heritage, but I picked my Journey back up.  Who would've thought cabled sleeves would move so quickly.

This is Alina Schneider's Journey pattern.  Remember, I interviewed her for the knit-along last month?   Well, this is my second completed sweater that she designed.  It is very me, in every way.  The moment it slips over my head, I am instantly back in high school or my early twenties.  Cables+ mustard+ tweed+ cuffed jeans+ converse = fountain of youth.   Just ignore the wrinkles and gray streaks in my hair.

Obviously, I love cabling.  But I also love the details like a split hem, folder cuffs, and an extra thick neck ribbing.  They make this sweater!  The pattern was incredibly well thought out and easy to follow.

Details:  I went with Wool of the Andes Tweed yarn in Brass Heather for this sweater.  I used a lot of skeins but didn't keep track of how many.  I had to use US size 2 and 4 needles to get a still-too-loose gauge on this sweater.  So, I decided to knit a size small, in the hopes it would fit like a medium.  It worked.  I think my gauge swatch showed I had 17 stitches and 27 rows per 4" squared.

I also wanted to make sure I got enough length for a big, comfy sweater, so I knit it extra long.  And that worked too.  It is the kind of sweater you can wear with leggings, if you're the modest type.  I am the modest type.

I knit my armholes a bit deeper than required so I picked up 4 extra stitches for each afterthought sleeve.  When working the short row shaping, I didn't figure those extra stitches into the short rows.  I just left them untouched at the bottom of the sleeve hole.  

Adding stitches meant that I was a little off on the moss rib the pattern instructed for at the bottom of the armhole.  But it was easy to see what the stitches needed to be for a smooth moss rib in that area.

I also did my sleeve decreases differently for some reason.  I think I didn't have my pattern in front of me and wanted to keep knitting, so I just did a k2tog, knit around in pattern to last 2 stitches, p2tog.  I changed whether or not I knitted or purled together based on where the moss rib pattern was at the time of my decreasing.  I realize these aren't great notes, but this knit spread out over a long period of time and I knit these sleeves while watching floodwaters rise around my home.  It's a wonder they were wearable.

I like Alina's Perfect Neckline Tutorial, but since my yarn was doubled for the neckline, it didn't work out as well for me as just picking up the number of stitches that the pattern recommended.

Our home is alright.  I thank God that we had just gotten a new roof and had our house leveled before the downpour occurred.  The back part of the house would certainly have flooded if we hadn't.  If it had flooded I think our very old floorboards would have collapsed.  It would have been a huge financial blow.

Other people around us did get water in their homes.  Some up to several feet.  My heart hurts for the troubles it is causing so many families.  So, many of us are making room in our homes for friends or strangers who are homeless for the moment.  Our church is sending out work crews to help rip out sheetrock and pull carpets, as are many.  When I have worked at these things I feel sick for the people who were flown to Dallas for shelter.  I wonder when they will be able to return to pull out sheetrock, etc before their homes really mold.   What will happen to their jobs?  I am also thankful for all of the kind well wishes I received from you guys, via instagram and ravelry.  If you believe in prayer, please  pray for the ones who are facing trouble- like job loss, homelessness, and financial ruin.  There are many.

My next knit from Alina will be a re-knit of Heritage.  I ended up ripping mine back because it was turning out too big and I was running short on yarn.  I will knit a smaller size and hopefully have enough to finish.

There's more awkward poses on ravelry, instagram, and flickr.

Check out the rest of the SSKAL sweaters on Ravelry!

More on this sweater here: the beginning, camp knitting, needing accountability, knitting as comfort

Monday, August 28, 2017

When knitting is your comfort, and I interviewed Alina Schneider

Since we are hunkered down at home, awaiting more rains from Hurricane Harvey, I have gotten quite a bit of knitting done.  (We are fine.  We may get a bit of water in the house, but nothing catastrophic.)  Of course, most of it has been ripped back, but I still managed to finish the second sleeve on my Journey sweater today.

You may remember I'm knitting two sweaters by Alina Schneider, Journey and Heritage, for the Summer Sweater Knit-along.  That was a coincidence, because both have been in my queue for a while.  But, it isn't a coincidence that I also interviewed Alina for a guest blog post on VeryShannon.com.  When Shannon asked if I'd like to write a guest post, I thought it was a great chance to ask Alina some things I'd been wondering, as I immerse myself in her designs.  I also thought you guys would enjoy learning a little more about her.   She is doing some really cool things.

I thought the interview was really great.  It was good enough to soothe my frustration with myself for making a huge blunder on my Heritage that required ripping back to the armholes.  I was feeling kind of stressed, so I just zoned out, knitting like a maniac without looking at my pattern again until a few days later.  That's when I realized I forgot my increases.  There I am, below, looking so chill about wasting hours of work.

Yeah, I go all Jethro Bodean like this on about every other project I work on.  I do it because the knitting is relieving my stress, but then I screw up and feel stressed.  So then, what could I do but comfort myself with some more knitting.

When knitting is your comfort, you just have to accept that sometimes it must comfort you from... your knitting?  Yes, basically.  And so I moved back to my Journey and knocked out a sleeve and a half in two days. Sigh.

I've accepted that Heritage probably won't be finished by the end of the SSKAL, but I still have plenty of time to do it for the Brooklyn Knitfolk Hipster KAL.  Now, I'm going to go re-read what Alina said and work on my sweater that's not in the bad corner.

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

Truth time: What is the last project that you had to put in the bad corner?