Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lace and Variegated

I have several one or two skein sets of variegated yarn that I'm not quite sure how to use.  I know I can always do socks, but I am pretty much done with socks for a while.  When it comes to heavily patterned things, like shawls, I don't often like how a lace or garter distort the colorway.  And right now everything seems to be about lace and garter.

Then I saw Lee Meredith's Orri Shawl.  This was a lace and garter pattern I could use my precious variegated skeins on, without my eyes involuntarily crossing as I worked.   The lace is a fairly simple stitch pattern that doesn't look too crazy in multi-colors and it has a solid colored garter section to further tone it down.  Balance, my friends.  So, I dug up my skeins of fischer dk from  Lovebird Lane Yarns, in the One Sweet Love colorway, and got busy.

I considered using another semi-variegated grey, Gynx Yarn's Texas Tornado, as the contrasting color, but it was too variegated and had yellow undertones that didn't look right when paired with the cool pinks of my main color.   Even if it had looked nice together, it  would defeat the purpose of subduing the variegated colorway with a solid.

In the end, I just ordered some inexpensive Patons Classic Wool, in Dark Grey Heather, during a Joann sale.  I think they look nice together.

Orri has a fun lace pattern that balances interest and need for focus.  I worked on it a bit at the movies, but Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was good enough that I ended up setting it down.  I do think I could have made a dent in it without mistakes, though.  It also knits up fast.  I will soon be finished with the largest portion knit in the pink even though I'm only working on it occasionally.

Variegated colorways like this always seemed so out of my league when I first started knitting.  All of those terms like, well, variegated and semi-solid and Tosh and Malabrigo, floated around Ravelry and were Greek to me.  I knew only Patons and Lion Brand Wool-Ease at the time.  So, I'm excited to have some of these mighty colorful yarns in my stash.  I'm just not quite sure what I'd like to use them for.  Again, no socks right now.

One of my only garments to knit in variegated yarn was Ease, which was a true variegated.  Then there was Reindeer, which is in variegated malabrigo but more subdued.  Both of these worked because the designs were a clean, simple style.  I never loved the color of the Ease, though- I just got the Cascade on sale and it was the least busiest colorway.  It still feels a little too busy for me, even though the finished sweater is super comfortable and great for doing things outdoors.

So, do you guys use heavily variegated yarns for lace pieces, or garments with a lot of texture?  I'm interested.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hello, Nature

This is my written ode to the trees that keep me sane.  How I have missed you!  Come to mama.

I need to be out of doors.  Truly.  It was lesson number 1 of my back sprain quarantine.  (Other lessons included- chairs are evil, don't fling 50 pound bags of anything over and over or ever, it's easy to lose your confidence when you are isolated at home, and I can crochet while lying down.)

Yeah, a back sprain. Sounds weird, doesn't it?  It's even weirder to explain:  "Uh, I think it happened when I was flinging 50 pound bags of dirt last spring or else I was picking up my free weights incorrectly...  The sacroiliac joint got pulled out of place... then I drove a lot of people around and sat in waiting rooms and hospitals for a few months, keeping the ligaments from tightening up in the right position and so...uh... now I can't sit in certain chairs for very long because they make the joint slip out of place.  Once I get it in the right place I have to keep it there for 6 to 8 more weeks.  So, I can't drive, or sit in a church pew, or go to the movies for more than 20 minutes a day for a few months... and, uh... I really shouldn't sit too much at all, but I've got this nagging ankle injury too, so..."

I don't know many people with a real attention span, so I'd lose them at the word "flinging."  And I guess it's disinteresting, unless you're my parent.  Oh wait, my dad turned the tv up as I was trying to explain it to him. Never mind.

Point is I am a free woman again!!  Free to go where I want, within reason, and to do it without a chaperone.  I don't have to be "crazy almond butter cat woman on the couch" anymore, unless I feel like it.  I don't have to ride everywhere lying shotgun, seat cranked all the way back, and my husband driving me while I got looks.

During my rehab time, I was so happy when I got opportunities to get outside.  By outside I mean somewhere besides my backyard and walking around my city.

Our childhood woods were just a thin patch of trees between the elementary school and the cemetery.  But it was enough for me to pretend I was a Native American walking in silence, like in A Light in the Forest, or an explorer.  I played and ran through those sparse trails so many times as a girl that I still have dreams about them.  They are a housing subdivision today.

Any time I could get out in the forest with my Brownie troop or a church day camp group, I relished the ability to hide or run, screaming like a banshee, in woodland chase.  There was some tying of our youth director to a tree and some discipline for leaving my girl scout trail buddy to go further into the woods than anyone else wanted to, but you can't let a suburban child with a heart for nature loose among the trees without a bit of wildness.

All this to say that my husband drove me, as I lay back in the passenger seat, like a knitting gangsta,  to The Big Thicket for the day, as in the photos above.

Then we went camping at Village Creek as a family with our kids, my son-in-law, and his little brother for a few days (below).  There was a campfire, trails, meals in which everyone contributed, marshmallows, and canoeing.  I had time to laze about in a hammock and knit on my Journey sweater.  What more could I want?  There was also one rainy night, which I kind of love when sleeping in a canvas topped pop-up.

My children inherited the need for trails from me.  They just didn't, or don't, know it until adulthood, as evidenced on my son's face, below.

 When my daughter was three I'd take her to a park with a tiny bit of trees and I'd run the trail with her in a jogging stroller.  She'd let me as long as we played Pocahontas afterward.  We usually took this drama to the nearby playground where all the children, and their parents, heard my impersonation of Pocahontas' father.  I do a mean Chief Powhatan.   Later I'd push both of of my children in a double jogger down a larger trail system in the Pineywoods.  Then I'd unbuckle them and it would be a setting for pretend space exploration.  Because trees and creeks and trails aren't exciting enough.

As they got older.  I found that the best conversations happened on the trail, even if they didn't originally want to go.  And they never originally wanted to go.  The most hardened of teenagers will open up after an hour of hiking.  I think my memories of laughing and hearing their stories about schools and friends that they'd never told me before is my favorite thing about family vacations.  Because, my kids are funny.  I remember hearing about things that secretly scared my daughter and my son's antics under the bleachers during Friday night games.  Oh, guys, I'm so full of longing as I type this that I might burst, or weep.

No, I'll save it for when she graduates from college Friday... or when they move.

 (more on my instagram and flickr)

I have a feeling nature will be my solace when that happens.  Also, my daughter says we can visit and camp with them  a lot, so why cry?  Besides, next week is the beach.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Knot Tyer and Proud of It

Is it tier or tyer?  Whatever.  I wanted to post my progress on my Waterrock vest and Kinton tee, both by Jennifer Kelley of Appalachian Knits, but you'll have to prepare yourself because you're about to see the seedy underbelly of the knitting world: tiny, desperate, cotton ends, created by running short on yarn before the project is finished.  And lots of knots.

I did use the Magic Knot technique, as I did on the Baby Granny Stripe Blanket, but only halfway through the vest.  So, there are still lots of ends- all of them short.

But who cares?  It fits!  And I had enough yarn, just enough, to finish it!  I blocked for width.  I'd originally planned to knit it extra long so I could throw it in the dryer and still have a good length when the denim shrank, but I was too short on yarn for that.

I also thought I'd mention that the I-cord edgings tighten things up a bit, so if it fits nice and loose before that, it may be fitted afterward, as with mine.  In the same way, if it feels too loose at the neck and arms, you may just need to wait for the edgings to get the perfect fit.

So, I won't be wearing this over button-up shirts, just tanks.  I'm okay with that, especially since the Kinton tee, which I cast on immediately upon finishing my Waterrock, will have positive ease.  Ignore any dirty paw prints you see on my patio furniture backdrop.  Dogs run my life.

Linton is loose, but not without a big 7" swatch.  My real swatch was the perfect gauge when knit in Lindy Chain with size 0s.  (Ah, my old friend 0's, how I hate you), but as I knitted the back panel, it got tighter and tighter.  So the beautiful progress you see below was ripped back and re-knit into the progress you see beneath it.  The second time I used size 2 needles like a normal person.

It's actually moving fairly quickly now.  As you can see I finished the neckline and began the front.  When I join for working in the round, I think it will fly.

I didn't finish my Kinton in time for the end of the Appalachian Knits Spring Kal, so I obviously never gotto the Allegany shawl or Old Rag, but I will get to them.

Both Waterrock and Kinton should be included in the second quarter of the Natural Wardrobe MAL, either and maybe the Tops Tanks and Tees KAL, if there's an extension.

I have been rotten about reading your blogs and posting here.  This is a busier time than I predicted- my daughter is graduating from college, my son's end of the year banquets, prom, award ceremonies, Eagle Scout project, and doctor appointments with my grandmother.  Somewhere in there I brush my hair, occasionally.  But, but I am determined to post a little something more regularly just to keep the habit alive and a time carved out of my evenings cause I miss you guys.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Triple Dip

The Tops Tanks and Tees Knit-along surprised me this year.  I already had a summer-weight sweater going so I'm jumping in with a WIP this year.  I don't usually do that because I love the excitement of group cast on, but I did get to cast this on with the Appalachian Knits KAL, so why not?   I'm also entering this vest in Handmade and Woolen's Natural Wardrobe Make-along.  So I'm one of those triple dippers now, I guess.  I'm really not into splitting my focus several different ways.  I truly like all of these 'alongs and what they are about!!

Anyway, this is my Waterrock Vest by Jennifer Kelley from the Appalachian Knits duo.  She and Christina Danaee's collection is introducing me to new, natural fibers and dyers from the Appalachian area.  It's very inspiring.  The sample is fantastic knit in Fern Fiber's Roan base.  It's a U.S. grown merino that's naturally dyed and looks incredible in this vest.  I love what Fern Fiber is about, but I really need to knit things I can wear more often.  I wore sweaters only a handful of days this last "winter."  I am so frustrated by the gross, humid heat of the last three winters.  That means I need to transition to cotton, linen, bamboo, or blends of any of these.   My Julia Sweater was an attempt to move in that direction.

I decided tear up the yarn closet and dig up some old stash. Old, old stash. This is Rowan Denim.  It  is the original Rowan Denim from before today's Rowan Original Denim.  Confusing, no?  Possibly, it's the first denim yarn ever made, from over a decade ago.  I got it free with my Rowan membership.  That's back when no one ordered online.  Westminster Fibers mailed out stapled photocopies of  a book and magazine list from which we could order.   Finding this was like an archeological dig, friends.

Anyway,  I was afraid I was short a skein, so I ordered the newest incarnation of Rowan Denim, weirdly called Original Denim, but it is not at all a match.  See:

It was looking like I'd have to give up when, while upturning a bag of old cotton yarn, a half ball of my old Rowan Denim fell, literally fell, into my hands as I upturned a bag of old cotton yarns.  A single beam of light shone on it from above and I realized I could make this work.  If I get desperate, I can frog the headband I made with the other half of that skein.

Isn't this a crisp blue for summer?  I am in love with these two textures next to each other!

I have another top, also from Appalachian Knits, planned next that will work for all three KALs too:  the Kinton Tee.

As for the Natural Wardrobe MAL, I stink.  I have put off ordering fabric to try my hand at sewing on my new (first) sewing machine for three months.  Three months!!  Okay, I have been recovering from a sprain and trying all sorts of new health things while being cloistered away.  But still, it's ridiculous.  I think I'm nervous about all of those bells and whistles.  Also, it would need to be GOTS certified fabric for this KAL and I don't really know where to start.  I'm just guessing my Joann won't have much of that to choose from.  But, I'm going there this weekend to get some kind of fabric to play with.  Hopefully, I will be able to familiarize myself with the machine before all of the machines take over.  Geez.

By the way, the Twin Peaks Rewatch party is still happening in the Great Northern Knits group on Ravelry.  I'm catching up, slowly but surely while working on my vest.

Come join in on one of the group thingies, friends!!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Two Knits

First, I should probably apologize for this post because I'm writing it while listening to a playlist of random favorites.  At the moment, Neil Diamond's Holly Holy is playing.  It's distracting.

This playlist makes me happy and sad all at once.  But happy usually wins out and I dance like a freak around the house, usually.

After finishing the Julia Sweater,  I wanted to get into two more sweaters that have been on my list for a while.  I've enjoyed knitting lots of socks and shawls in the last year, but I want to get back to garments.

I like to have at least two knits going at all times- one that's good for tv knitting and one more complicated.  Guess which is which?

The top sweater is the Gingerbread sweater from Libby of Truly Myrtle.  It's a classic style, wide-neck sweater.  When I first saw it on instagram I thought how I wanted to knit mine in cashmere.  Then I came back to reality and started looking for something with just a little cashmere in it.  I found this Lana Grossa Alta Moda Cashmere Fine on sale at Loveknitting.  It's only 10% cashmere, but may as well be the real thing to me.  It's softer than my kitten.

Even though Gingerbread is a seemingly straight stockinette sweater, I found the beginning, short rows and shoulders, really interesting.   But that's about as far as I am.  Since I am almost finished recovering from that sprain, I thought I'd really focus on the cabled Journey, by Alina of Gift of Knitting Designs.  I'm hoping to finish it before the recovery period is over.

This one is knit in trusty Wool of the Andes Tweed in Brass Heather that I've been saving until I knew what the heck was going on with my body.  I think the hormonal weight fluctuation has settled down, so I'm digging into the all the cables.  I'm also knitting this so it will have a little ease.
I have two thoughts here: I so love this color and moss rib makes ribbing bearable.

And so this sweater has accompanied me through three Planet of the Apes movies and anywhere I go that doesn't involve holding a conversation with anyone.  Dogs don't count.

I made a serious dent on this sitting around the campfire and while the family played Catan (There were 5 of us.)  And now I'm actually looking forward to sleeves.  Did I just type that?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Baby Granny Stripe Blanket

I guess I can post this blanket now that it's been gifted and the recipient has been born.  It made me so happy to think of the loving home she would grow up in as I worked on this blanket.  I was also excited that her parents loved it because, guys, this was totally a case of me winging it with pretty colors, then pulling it all together with a tutorial and a how-to book.

Inspiration: I decided on a granny stripe afghan because they are all over instagram right now and so all of the various #rabbithole somethings have seeped into my subconscious.  But as I worked on it, I thought of the precious baby that would be dragging it around one day and of my grandmother who made us crochet blankets all through our lives.

The first one she made me was in a seventies palette of yellow, orange, and cream.  It was probably a baby gift.  I would drag it to the living room with me to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  That was when you could watch Bugs Bunny and Scooby.  Sometimes I would throw it over me, ghost-like, and peek out through the holes to watch the show.  It was also a picnic blanket for stuffed animals and dolls, during the brief period when I played with dolls.  My daughter used it this way, too.  It was an acrylic/ titanium blend.

Grandmommy made me a pink and white one when I was in fourth grade, and a solid cream afghan, as I neared adulthood.  I still pull that one (above) up over the bedspread on cool nights.  It has a burn hole in it from when my daughter sat too close to the chiminea, and there's an old cat sleeping on it as I type this.  Suffice it to say, it is much loved.

The green and orange one was made for my parents.  My mom would fold it at the end of their bed.  Somewhere along the way, I ended up with it and it has been used by everyone in my family at some point to cover with on the couch.  I don't mind the scratchiness of the acrylic.  It's a nostalgia trigger from childhood.  (Remember how perfume companies were infusing perfumes with slightly plastic-like scents in the 90s to woo the Play-Doh generation with subliminal nostalgia?  Well, it's like that.)  It feels soft to me because it was made by sweet hands for my sweet mother.

The one in the best shape has the orange and cream medallion design.  She made this one for herself, but gave it to me when she sold her house.  I doubt it was used very often because it's pristine.  Isn't it glorious with that orange fringe?

These blankets were on my mind the whole time I crocheted my gift.  When I was about halfway through, I took it with me on a visit to my grandmother's.  I wondered what she'd think of the scrappy stripes.  She noticed it, peeking out of my bag, right away.  It's a different style than those she made, but she liked it.  The variety in yarn color was amazing to her.  This just wasn't an option when she crocheted 40 years ago.   I left that visit thinking of how I take my ability to use my hands in these fine motor movements for granted.  Even being able to clearly see what my stitches look like is a blessing.

My Baby Granny Stripe:  When I started this one, I was just testing out a granny stripe pattern I found on Ravelry.  I used worsted weight, in case it made a good baby gift, but I didn't expect it to look good.  I spent a whole afternoon digging up all of my worsted scraps.  I am so, so glad I kept them.  There were plenty of times I wanted to chuck my leftovers because they weren't even enough to make a hat, but a voice in my head said, " them..." This voice is the reason our garage is a wreck and everything in the crisper is rotten.

Once I got to like the third row,  I could not put it down.  It moved so quickly.  I think I crocheted the whole thing in 10 days, working mostly in the evenings when my husband and I stare at the tv like zombies.  No, make that 8 days because I had a migraine for 2 of them and, even for the daring, crochet is hard with crossed eyes.

Something about crochet makes me feel invincible.  I don't mind just fiddling until it looks pretty good.  There's no desire for perfection (and this blanket was not perfect), but still it enabled me to churn out a really fun gift in a craft I'm a noob in.  It's how knitting used to be before I knew much about it.

As I began, I couldn't tell if it would be nice and square or veer off with accidental extra stitches.  It veered, a little, but I corrected it with blocking.

Details:  I think I already told you about my color scheme, which was basically 3 or 4 stripes in compatible colors, with a unifying stripe of Quince and Co wool in Clay, every once in a while.

The first thing I needed to learn to do was make a magic knot.  Below is a reference for myself: lay old and new yarn ends next to each other.  Tie the old end to the new yarn, then tie the new yarn end to the old yarn strand.  Pull both yarns until the knots slide together tightly.  Trim loose ends and crochet on.  Below, is my photo shorthand.  Google a video if you want something more complete.

I relied on Lucy, of Attic24's, pattern heavily.  It's a freebie, so click on it to get the basic gist of my blanket.

Since it was for a baby, I only ch 122 stitches with a size G hook.  I made sure to make it a multiple of 3, plus 2.

After this, I switched to a size F hook and followed the pattern for rows 1-5.  I kept this up until I had 79 "stripes".

Here's where it gets fuzzy.  (Remember I fiddled a lot.)  I didn't know how to make my last stripe look like the first, which included the initial chain row.  This might have been clear in the pattern, but it wasn't to me.  So after the last stripe in a green colorway, I continued using that color and worked a sc in 3 out of 4 stitches for one row.

At this point my blanket was a little wonky from changing tension, plus those few stitches I added on accident, in the beginning.  It needed an edge to square it up some.

I ran out of Quince and Co Lark in Clay before the main blanket was finished, but I had ordered some Osprey in the same colorway.  The difference between worsted and Aran was no big deal, but i was glad to have Aran for a nice, firm border.

I went down to a size D hook, tied the Clay into the last color of yarn and began working dc clusters in the spaces created along the left side by the ch 3's.

At the first corner I ch 2, then worked sc in each stitch along the bottom edge.

At the next corner, I ch 2 again, then worked down the right side with dc clusters, as with the left side.

For the last corner, I ch 2 then worked a sc into each stitch along the top.
Again, I ch 2 at this last corner (where I had begun the edging) and started a second border.

Second border:  I worked sc in 3 of 4 stitches along the sides and in every stitch of the bottom and top edges, always ch 2 at the corners.

This gave the whole thing more structure.  Then I blocked it out to almost square.  It took some work, but I think it's decent.

I didn't write down my dimensions, but it was a good size for really wrapping a little babe or for a child to drag around the house and make blanket forts with on Saturday mornings.

I'm not a natural crocheter.  Even reading back on these notes I made looks a little Greek to me.  But I'm sure I can fumble through a fingering weight one now.  I have plenty of scraps for that and I won't have to dig around for them.   I also think I need to use that blessings hands that can craft and eyes that can help me see it to make my Grandmommy an afghan for Christmas.

(on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

My other post on this project is here.  More WIP photos are here and here.