Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On the Beach Headband

I needed something small that could be stuffed in a beach bag for a day trip a couple of weeks ago.  It also had to withstand dousings with sand and salt water, as my dog wanted to lay on top of it after wading with us.  I was not about to bring Lady Bat, which I was knitting at the time.  I decided to destash some Rowan Denim by knitting the Twin Cities Headband by Allyson Dykhuizen.

This was perfect for a quick trip project.  I also wear my hair up a lot so it will spice up the usual bun/ ponytail/ braid hairstyle rotation.

The trick with this denim was to remember it will shrink in length after washing, so I knit an extra inch of length to the headband before knitting the ruffle.  I kept thinking what an easy, last minute gift this could be.  The fact that the button can be removed and re-sewn to adjust for a tighter fit or if the fabric begins to stretch makes it kind of perfect as a gift.  This denim feels so substantial; it will only look more wonderful as it fades with each washing.  I have enough denim left for a small piece of clothing later this summer.  Hmmm, I'm thinking some kind of tank or tube top.

(more on Ravelry or flickr)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bombshell Shorts = Instant Fun

Are these Bombshell Shorts not astounding?  They are my new camp shorts knit for the Pour Moi Knitalong, hosted by Evelyn, and they're the most fun thing I've ever knit.   Even when they were just sitting on my lap, unfinished- instant fun.  And that's what this knitalong is all about: just a little something fun for me.

Here's me before I had them- just a normal housewife, huddled around a campfire, feeling lackluster, as though something were missing in my life.

Then, I put them on and Bam! - I am finally fulfilled and able to realize my dream of becoming a breakdancing riot.

I really didn't know how to look "fun" in these photos.  Remember how I said I'm going to try to wear my handknits more?  Well that applies to these too.  Even though it's summer, I'll have the chance to enjoy these on vacation.  Around a campfire or on a light hike were how I envisioned wearing these shorts in the first place.  Now, I get to do it.

I loved Katie Canavan's design the minute I saw it in the Fall Holla Knits collection, but I had to get over the idea that knitted shorts might be unflattering.  This is where my fellow Pour Moi knitters came in and said, "Do it!"  Most women have shorter shorts in their closet, somewhere.  It may be pjs or running shorts, but we're already wearing them, so why not handmade?  I can honestly say the fit on these is no different than most of the shorts I wear to run or bike ride.  They may even be a bit more forgiving.  And after taking these photos, even though it was about 90 degrees outside, I did not want to take them off.  They are that comfortable.

I'm not going to pretend I'm not a little uncomfortable taking photos of myself in them, but this is how I'll most likely be wearing them this summer, messy hair and all.  And it is the flesh-baring equivalent of what I just wore to run and walk my dog all over town this afternoon.  So, yeah, fun, comfy, and they gave me a feeling of mastery.  I felt like a knitting ninja after finishing these cables.

My notes:

To make a size medium, I used 1 skein of Knits in Class Fiber Studio's BFL DK yarn with size 0 needles.  Yes, I did say size 0, but the pattern calls for a size 5.  I didn't have 16" size 0s so I just used a really long circular for magic loop.

 I knit 26 rounds before joining the legs together, then 67 more once joined, before starting the waistband.  That's 1 1/2 celtic cable repeats before joining, then 4 more afterward.  I actually knit them a bit longer than the shorter pattern sample I was using as inspiration.  The actual pattern is written for longer shorts.  Mine are just a bit shorter with a slightly lower waist.

I did make one, small error on these.  I read the spreadsheet chart from right to left like I would a cable chart.  The only difference it made was to reverse the placement of my 4 stitch front and back cables on either side of the four rib braid cables.  In other words, only a freak would ever notice that.  

I originally wanted to use elastic that was 1 inch or less in width, but our hobby shop had none.  I used 1 1/4" elastic instead and it worked fine.  This required 9 rounds of ribbing, 1 purl round, then 9 more of ribbing before binding off.   The waistband, though knit at a very small gauge, looked like it would be way too big.  But I trusted the pattern, and began whipstitching it.  I whipstitched it around the elastic I was holding in place and, once finished, it was perfect.  
I also had trouble closing up the little gaps in the fabric at each end of the kitchener stitch used to close the crotch.  It's the same problem I have on sweater armholes.  So I undid the seam and used the same fix I use on sweaters, which Katie recommended.  I picked up an extra stitch, where there would be a gap at the end, on each needle before using the kitchener stitch.  After doing kitchener, I wove my yarn ends in in such a way that it sort of filled any gaping areas.

I still haven't blocked them, but when I do it will help me even out any tight or loose stitches in the reverse stockinette.  I can always block them out for a looser fit or more room in back.  But I like them as is, they feel like really comfy knit boxers.

I decided not to knit belt loops, though I may have had enough yarn to do it.  I just didn't feel like I would ever wear these that way and I wanted a smooth waistband.

All of this with one skein of yarn!  This is a great way to get into indie dyed yarns without having to buy a sweater's worth.  I love the subtle tonal changes that keep the red from being too red.  Like I said, fun!

(my Ravelry and Flickr)

Other posts about the process of this knit in the Knitalong: Debatingswatchingthe first legjoining the legsalmost there, and a much abused pattern chart.

So, there you go.  All it takes is one skein of DK, a minimal time investment, and some encouraging knitalong friends (Thanks, Evelyn and the Project: Stash gang!) to lend a little courage, and you can go from Blah to Bam! too.

Please see the campy humor in all of this Bam! talk.  It is my personal way of dealing with showing more leg :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Young Lady Bat

It's all finished and on my daughter's person now, just in time for the last day of high school... ever!  I was doubtful that I could squeeze in a handmade gift for her, but I'm so glad I did.  I enjoyed knitting it for the Tops, Tanks, and Tees Knitalong and thought about who she is and how she's grown with every stitch, hence the nostalgic posts of late.  Don't worry I'm not going to blubber about it today, instead I'll share a few things I learned about myself.

1) I'm kind of spacey.  

When I followed the pattern closely, this knit was a snap and worked up quickly.  My problem is that my usually scattered brain is now in overdrive and I could not stop having little zone out moments- the kind where someone waves a hand in front of your face and you don't even blink.  What saved me was to get it through my head that right now, as I am, I need to check the stitches on both sides of my markers, as I finish each row.  I must make sure they are the correct increase, knit stitch, or yarn over.  If I was militant about it, things went smoothly.  If I was not, there was quiet sobbing (not really).  It only takes half a second to check this, right?

So, keep in mind that there are major changes and events happening in my family's life and normally I'd not find this so challenging.  The pattern is clearly written and produces a knit that looks just like the sample without any modifications.  If you are a normal person, you'll find it fun and just challenging enough to keep you interested.  That's why I'm about to cast on another one just for me- a no pressure version.  But I will also be casting on for the Harnett Tank because of something else I've learned about myself:

2) I'm fickle.  

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that I was whining about how I was done with straight stockinette.  I couldn't wait to do lace and cables because "I'm so sick of this mindless stockinette!"?  Now that the Bombshell Shorts and Lady Bat are done, I'm saying, "Whew!  I just need something easy to work on... you know... something mindless..."

But, really, I do.  The new Netflix season of Arrested Development is coming out and I need a tv knit.

Back to the details on this knit:

If you didn't already know, it's Lady Bat by Teresa Gregorio who is just too cool.  She wrote the Ghosts ebook I talked about a few months ago and has designed knits that are in everyone's FOs or queue.  She has a very interesting design aesthetic.  There's nothing bland among her designs... nothing.  I cannot believe I haven't knit one of her patterns (so many are in my favorites or queue) until now.  It was time to right that wrong.

I used size 3 needles on the body to get gauge and size 1s to knit the ribbing.  I used long circulars for magic loop until it was large enough to move to 24" size 3 circulars. 

I knit an XS because it is for my daughter who is extra small, however, when I make mine I will still use this size because I like the fit for me too, even though I'd usually be a size small.  See an awful photo here.

It took eight balls of Knit Picks Shine Sport in robot to make this instead of the recommended seven, but my gauge wasn't quite as tight as the pattern sample and may be the reason for that.

One thing to keep in mind that I have mentioned before is that rows 8- 12 seemed to knit up tighter for me than rows 1-7 so I made sure to knit a bit more loosely on those sections.  It really evened the chevrons out.  I can block it out further if I want, but unblocked I think it looks fine.

Since it is knit from side to side, I had to remember to keep my gauge consistent from start to finish so both arms are the same length.  Keeping the final sleeve ribbing as tightly knit as the first is another thing I had to watch.  I considered just decreasing a few stitches before that final sleeve ribbing, but decided I could block the first one out a little if they weren't the same.  

I used a basic knit/ purl bind off for the bottom ribbing, instead of trying anything fancy.  The stretchy and sewn bind offs made it look too floppy.  I also picked up a few less stitches on the bottom because of the whole scatter brained thing, but I thought it worked out well since my daughter is very small.

I love that I made something this cool!  Now, to make my own and actually wear it, which brings me to the last thing I realized about myself as I worked on this top:

3) I put all of this time and energy into making some really great things, then I take them off, carefully fold them, lay them in a wardrobe like the Shroud of Turin, and put my old ratty shorts and tank top back on.  It's as if I think I'll ruin them with wear.

I mean, I am outside a lot and it's insanely hot and humid most of the year here, but I have summer knits that could at least see the light of day.  I can always wear these holy relics around the house, right?  So, I've started giving my poor mind a break and having multiple projects that require varying levels of concentration going all the time; then I'll make sure to wear them, even if it's just to watch tv and knit.

Now, be sure to check out all of the other finished objects in the knitalong.  That group is the motivation behind my getting this top finished by graduation.  We have fun chatting and knitting together from all over the world.

I promise she really isn't annoyed in these photos.  It was just sunny.  More on Ravelry and Flickr.
Also, there's swatchingweek1week 2week 3, and week 4 of this project.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Quietly Hopeful

These are of one of my daughter's closest friends.  I had the honor of shooting her graduation photos.  I'm posting the ones I like best, not necessarily the ones that make the best senior portraits.  I wasn't really sure what I should write here when posting, and probably would have said nothing, but all of this graduating and moving away from home business has me a little wistful.  So I digress.

I look at my daughter and her friend, here, and remember when I was eighteen.  It doesn't feel so long ago.  I realized that I am not grieving her leaving our home anymore, but have had a tightness in my stomach remembering when I left home and wishing it had been different for me.  I was not like my daughter.  I didn't know I was lovely.  I didn't speak with confidence and easily accept when I was ignored.  I didn't feel very useful and wasn't joyful unless I was running (literally and figuratively).  But, I held onto the promise that maybe, one day, my life would be "good".  Good meant joyful, wanted, useful, and part of something that "worked."  Somewhere along the way during a family tragedy I had missed the message that I was already capable of being those things, and it wasn't until my own daughter was born that I began to realize God meant that for me all along.

It's not enough to have food and shelter, or companionship and things to do.  Not really.  Just as it isn't enough for some children to feel so special and at the center of everything that they lack humility.  My desire as a girl and for these girls, is that they feel their place in something larger than themselves, in God's plan.  There's the responsibility of acting their part along with the joy of being an integral, wanted participant.  They need to hear about this from us when we "sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up." (Deuteronomy 11:19)  It should be a natural, extension of who we are and everyday life.  I hope that I have given enough of this to my children.

These last few were my favorites, taken just for my personal fun in the ugly lot next to my house before she went home.  They are beautified only by this girl and the sun.  They seem quietly hopeful to me, and that's what I'm feeling.

(more on my Flickr)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Knitalong Updates

I set my Bombshell Shorts for the Pour Moi KAL aside to finish Lady Bat as a gift in the Spring Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL; however, I've run out of Shine Sport yarn and so am setting this top aside now.

I don't know what was up with me knitting this top, I made more mistakes that I had to fix than I have in years.  My husband said he hasn't seen me like "this" in a while.  "This" means talking to my knitting as I try to unknit three rows worth of just a small section but get lost in the lace and can't find my way out.  Nice. It really is a simple lace repeat, I guess the increases and decreases threw me.  Or maybe it's an impending graduation and all the events and life changes that go along with it.  But I have learned to check the stitches at each side of my markers to make sure they're correct after finishing every row.  Every row.  Otherwise, I forget a YO or a decrease or something and get to the end of the next row before discovering it.

(on instagram and flickr and ravelry)

Another tip about keeping the chevron pattern even is that on all the rows with yos and knit2togtbl , I threw my yarn very loosely and knit together with a lot of slack.  It felt counterintuitive, but it really evened the chevron look out.  It may also be the reason I need an extra ball of yarn.

Back to the shorts.  Since I just picked them back up and have unknitted the wastband to decrease and reknit it at a tighter gauge, there's little progress to show except this sad little worn pattern note that has followed me around the house for a couple of weeks.  It gets squashed in the couch cushions and blows across a room like an old tumbleweed across an arid landscape.  You can see by the wear on this paper that these shorts had some intense cabling.  It was so worth it, but I can't say that I'm sad to throw this little pattern shred away.

Goodbye pattern shred.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kind of Perfect Day

For my Mother's Day gift, I got to do some things I love.   There was chocolate, flowers, a small tool kit, and the rest of the Mars Trilogy.  Then, we headed to one of my favorite places to go on a Sunday, after Church (minus my daughter, who was working)...

...where someone experienced the beach for the first time and didn't really love it.

I also relaxed and read The Great Gatsby for the first time while working on the startlingly vivid tanline on my legs,

had a long run with my most willing running partner,

witnessed crazy kite skillz,

and, you know what's coming, I knitted on a small beachy project- the Twin Cities Headband, which happens to be 50% off thru Saturday with a special coupon code, along with all of the designer's other patterns.  I also snagged the Traverse City Tube Top.

I used some Rowan denim from my stash and I think I'll really like how this turns out in denim.

Then, as if all of that weren't enough, everyone watched Star Wars with me because I couldn't see it on May the fourth.

more on my instagram and Flickr