Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nachtfalter: Week 4 and Then Some

So I spent a couple of late evenings with the lace on this and found myself almost through Week 5's goal.  Isn't the honeybee or "moth" stitch beautiful?

 (I love that place in a knit where one color changes into another.)

To help pace myself, I cast on for another Lady Bat top in the Willow colorway.  This one is for me.  I'm not sure if it's very wise to alternate between lace projects and not have something stockinette to come back to, but that's what I'm doing while I still have muscle memory of the tension I used to make my daughter's Lady Bat.  That sounds silly, but it took me a while to get it right on the left leaning lace and I don't want to have to do that over again.

(more on my Ravelry and Flickr)

I'm also starting a second summer sweater because there are only so many days of summer left and I have a queue to think about.  There's Just Beachy because I have a really great two-tone khaki color combo for it, Riverine Pullover because Andi Satterlund designs incredible things and I can't believe I've never knit one yet, a Work + Shelter Lace Striped Sweater because my Ravelry friends are killing me with all of their excellent versions of this, the Reef Knot Tank because of reasons explained here, plus a real "Sweater" sweater for the Summer Sweater Knitalong.   I can't be dilly-dallying around here.  I just typed dilly-dallying.  Sigh.

Please ignore me and tell me what you're wanting to knit before your summer ends.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Week 3- Addictive Lace

I'm going to go ahead and post Week 3's progress for the Holla Knits knitalong because I may just mow right through week 4's goal over the weekend.

I forced myself to concentrate and really "get" this lace pattern for two repeats.   No music, no tv, no talking, just a very quiet house late one night.  Then, I closed my ipad and made myself work from memory.  Once I got it, it was very hard to put down.  This is what other people, who don't share this obsession, can't fathom: how manipulating string with sticks can be so engrossing.  They think we're really listening to them when they talk about other stuff.  They have no clue that as we nod our heads or pass the butter we're really just thinking about a work-in-progress- how we'll wear/use it, how to solve a problem we may be having with it, or how antsy we are to get through the sleeves.   Silly non-knitters.  Don't they know we can only be semi-present at all times?

(more on my flickr and ravelry)

The color in this photo is more accurate than the one I posted to instagram.  I can't stop looking at it with a goofy smile on my face... so... pretty...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I live in Texas; therefore, I live in tank tops

My second summer knit this year is something I have no doubt I will wear like crazy.  The Harnett Tank by Allyson Dykhuizen is a classic.  This tank is knit bottom- up, in the round, and has stripes.

Ignore the slightly rumpled effect because I didn't block before taking these photos.

The things I like best about it are that racerback (obviously), the smooth, clean finish of the arm and neck shaping in seed stitch, and the way it fits true to size.  I made a 29.25" and it fits exactly like I'd want a tank to fit.  Oh, and did I mention the stripes?

The fact that it makes for excellent tv knitting is a bonus.  (I finally gave in and watched the newest Dr. Who episodes.  I had to get used to the idea of no David and no Donna.)  This was one of the sweaters that made me want  Vintage Inspired Baseball Knits.   Besides all of the ideas for team colorways, I love vintage sports clothes.  Baseball tees, shirttail hems, and stripes are the kinds of things  I put on in the morning without even thinking.  I grew up in the early eighties wearing baseball-style tees and painter pants.  This is so up my alley.

My notes:
I normally wear a 32" - 34" but I knit the 29.25" because this Stroll Tonal yarn has some spring to it and I find knitting a size down is almost always the key to a better fit, and this does fit perfect.  It's not tight but still covers any stray straps and feels very light in summer heat.  There's no sagging or rolling at the neckline or bottom band (thanks to the seed stitch) and the racerback is in just the right place to not have to wear another tank top underneath.  I probably will layer this when I wear it out just because it is so hot and I chose a wool yarn, but I like that at a different time of year, I don't have to.

One of my modifications was to try for jogless stripes by slipping the first stitch of the second row in a new color then knitting as usual.

For example, when I am switching to blue stripes:
Round 1: knit around
Round 2: sl 1 stitch, k around
Knit the next two rounds as normal, then repeat this process for the white stripes, etc.

These jogless stripes made it necessary for me to change the increase and decrease rounds a bit so the stitches were nice and neat.  I, basically, added a plain knit stitch on either side of each marker between the decrease or increase stitches.

For increases: * k1, kfb, k to 2 sts before marker, kfb, k1, sm*  repeat from * once.

For decreases: *k1, k2 together, k to 3 sts before marker, skp, k1, sm* repeat from * once more.

Considering this was tonal yarn, I think the jog issue turned out fine.  If I'd been using a solid color, I think it would have been an invisible tranisition.

I also stopped knitting the front straps at 8", rather than 8.5" just in case it stretched a little with wear.

A note about the Stroll Tonal:  It's not something I would normally choose for a summer-weight project, but I wanted to try tonal stripes so I bought some on sale.  I love it.  It's lightweight and doesn't itch against my skin at all.  I can wear this indoors at any time this summer and even outdoors when it's not too hellish.  In Gulf Coast Texas summers, I look wilted, oily, and frizzy within seconds of walking outdoors.  Every woman I know faces the day armed with a Chi.  Those were normal curls on my head when I went out to take project photos, but by the time I finished these few shots, they were slowly becoming a brown clown wig.  Now, when camping in Utah this tank can be worn all day and I won't be a sweathog.

I actually have some more Tonal to combine with Gynx sock yarn for a fingering weight version of the Knickerbocker Tee from this same book.  Then, I want to do another one in our school's football colors because.. well, this is Texas.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 2 - Taking Care of Business

This is almost all of my Nachtfalter ribbing in pomegranate.  It doesn't look like much progress, due to the tinyness of all of these stitches, but it has, in fact, doubled in length this week.  Much of this was accomplished in the car, at a taco shop, and in a restaurant (yes, I did knit in public this week without even realizing it) for Father's Day.  I decided not to brave it during Superman, besides knitting through a movie for Father's Day isn't much of a gift.

I was also busy finishing the Harnett Tank, another beautiful collection of tiny stitches, which I hope to get photos of tomorrow.  So, you can see there has been quite a bit of knitting activity around here while the kids were at camp.  I am using ridiculously small needles (0's, 1's, and 2's) to work these in the hopes that loosening my tension will save my wrists.  So far it seems to be working.  I just don't need to work too intently on tiny, little stitches then spend an evening weeding again.  I'm fine with the finely gauged knits because the easily memorized rib pattern of this top and the stockinette of the tank allowed me to start reading while knitting again, something I have sorely missed while knitting up cabled and lace projects.

With all of this reading, project finishing, summer camp no. 1 accomplished, and organizing of drawers and file cabinets, I am feeling more together ... today, anyway.

I am going to do a tiny bit of revamping here on the blog, as well.  I need a new header and have signed on to a few new media sites, like Bloglovin.  I'm not sure why I'm doing that yet, but I join things and if it takes hold of my interest and something grows out of it, I keep it.  If not, it goes into the media/ app graveyard with Storie, Shoebox and 500px.

So follow my blog with Bloglovin

I also signed up for Kollabora.  We'll see.  I've been on a mostly knitting craft kick for a couple of years now and I have my beloved Ravelry, so I'm not sure where Kollabora would fit in.  But I like the concept of finding projects, materials, and tutorials all in one place and the clean layout.  I'd like to make jewelry again and try machine sewing, but there are few hours in every day and I find knitting needles in my hand during all of the extra ones.  However, a few of my blog buddies' sewing projects are really speaking to me, so you never know...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Necklaces That Say Summer

I've been wanting some jewelry from Stephanie of Native Clutter's shop since we became Ravelry friends.  She makes some very light, delicate necklaces that are perfect for wearing in the summer.

I'm a fool for packaging, especially the quirky way artists package their handmade goods.  You never know what you'll find.

These howlite and snowflake obsidian layering necklaces will be my summer staples.  I once had a necklace with a similar look in high school that I wore all the time.  These look so nice together I thought I'd get some photos of me wearing them yesterday.  But I was helping move furniture around in Houston summer heat, sweating profusely.  It wasn't the best look, so these will have to do.

The Garnet Slice necklace is so obviously awesome.  Also, garnet is my birthstone.

I usually gravitate toward blues and greens, but I love the unusual way the color of these "slices" changes, depending on the light reflecting off of them or pouring through them.  This is the first time I've ever liked a piece of garnet jewelry.

She pretty much had me at antlers.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Nachtfalter- Week 1

It would have been easy to skip ahead on the Nachtfalter Knitalong with it's baby cable rib bottom.  Even though it's tough on my wrists I found myself thinking, "Just oooone more twist round."  and so I'd continue on for another hour.  If this ribbing looks different than my swatch last week that's because it is.  I was twisting every other row instead of every fourth.

Like some other knitters in this KAL, I was worried about this ribbed bottom not fitting me.  Ribbing usually looks sloppy on me the first time around.  After I unknit the bottom, decrease stitches, and reknit it, it finally fits.  I cannot remember how many times I've had to do that, but I'm trying to break out of that knit, worry, reknit cycle by starting smaller on my ribbing.  I just don't knit very tightly.  

This sweater has been no exception.  I decided to knit a 32" bust, which also has a finished 32" waist measurement.  My waist is smaller than that, but my hips are 35" so I think that's the measurement I'm needing to accommodate.

I knit on, but it was looking small... as in, toy poodle sweater small.  After I had this week's goal finished (about 4 inches) I ran a large circular through it and tried it on.  Whew! It does fit with room to spare, so I'm not going to think about it anymore.

Ah, bathroom photos.  You can find more on my Ravelry and Flickr - obviously, I don't mean bathroom photos.  The knitalong is happening here if you want to join in.  You know you want to join in.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Anatomy of a Knitting Bag

Don't you love it when a plan comes together?  Me too and though some haven't worked out lately, this one did.  I ordered a recycled leather bag/ knitting bag from the Ruta Design shop and it was even better than it's Etsy description.

I sometimes have misgivings about ordering from an online shop, especially one I've never heard of before.  It's bad enough when I buy from a walk in store, where I can actually see the item before buying, yet it still falls apart after a few wearings; but buying from an unknown individual across the world is even more of a gamble.  

But after looking all over the web for interesting knitting bags or could-be knitting bags, this was the only one I really wanted.  It's made from a quilted, leather jacket and was a reasonable price (even after shipping from Lithuania?!), especially when you consider how expensive a good knitting bag can be.

When it came it was even nicer than I'd hoped.  The quality of the quilted leather, stitching, lining, suede, inner and outer pockets, and swivel clasps, and removable strap... all so nice.

I love how the suede underside of the pockets and flaps is exposed like piping.  Since it's a larger bag, I'm thankful the straps and seams are durable enough for me to load it down if I have to.  After seeing the craftsmanship she put into this bag, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one someday.  Though it seems that Ruta mostly sells smaller messenger bags, I've spotted a few more of her upcycled leather bags that I really love like this or this.

Sarah at KnitYorkCity's post about pouches and organization got me thinking yesterday about how I'm going to break this bag in over the summer.  Whatever the occasion,  yarn and needles will pretty much always be a fixture.  But I like that the outer pockets are substantial enough to hold wallet, keys, and phone, since they usually get lost in my bags.  They'll also be separate from my yarn. I hate nothing more than yarn getting tangled in keys or stuck to the velcro of my wallet.  There's still plenty of room for my ipad, cable needles, stitch markers, and even a sweater-in-progress.

Speaking of bags, I can even fit my camera and an extra lens inside via the Ona bag.  The Ona is my favorite camera accessory.  It's a bag insert that can fit in any messenger bag or purse and transform it into a padded camera bag with dividers.  I use it in my knitting bag, bike pannier, backpack, or to protect my camera in my luggage.   The Ona bag obviously is a cat and dog hair magnet, too.

So I guess I'm ready to take it out on a big Knit in Public Day this Saturday.  Knit in Public here means I knit in public all by myself, if not sit all by myself.  I can't force my daughter to knit with me because she'll be at camp and that would be too similar to another favorite holiday:  Embarrass Your Kids in Public Day.  Sigh... I lack craft community.

Maybe I could go to a coffee shop and knit while chatting with my Ravelry KAL groups.  I do have lots of online community.  There's the Pour Moi KAL that is ending as the Nachtfalter KAL is starting up.  I plan to knit the Riverine Pullover for the Pom Pom Quarterly Summer KAL and I can always count on The Summer Sweater KAL when everything else is winding down.   But I've been thinking that it may be time for me to start a knitting group.  My hesitation is that I'd have to teach people to knit and make time to show up regularly to get it going.  I don't know how good I'd be at either of those things right now.  If it took off, though, it would be very rewarding and worth the awkwardness.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Summer Tank

The Harnett Tank is my evening tv project.  It's knitting up fairly quickly with just a little work each night.  It was supposed to be my Arrested Development knit, but I've found the new season so blah my husband and I haven't even finished it.  

 (ravelry and flickr)

I moved on to a show my brother mentioned to me but seemed a little embarrassed to admit to watching- Orphan Black.  It's not family friendly, but it gives me a sci-fi fix.  My question is- if a guy is seen watching Downton Abbey how can anything else ever embarrass them?

I wasn't sure I'd like the way the Stroll Tonal yarn knit up in stripes, but it's really growing on me and I think I prefer it to alternating solid colors.  It makes me think of the days before I had tried hand-dyed yarns and only saw other ravellers' projects knitted from them.  I was blown away by all of the color possibilities outside of my chain hobby store yarn.  The only thing I have to watch is making a smooth transition with jogless stripes by slipping the first stitch of the round if it was also a decrease stitch.  That's the one drawback to stripes, and I'm not entirely happy with the way I'm managing that, but I think I can smooth out any goofy stitches with blocking.  That will be sooner than these photos show, because I'm actually to the bust increases.  It is moving along.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Butterfly Lace is "Tricky"

Tomorrow is the beginning of a Holla Knits knitalong for a pattern I've been dying to try- Nachtfalter by Stefanie Pollmeier.  I'm only just now finding time to swatch, which means I'll not be washing and blocking the swatch, something I've vowed to do, and consistently not done, for a good year.  But I've learned a few things about my knitting that I hope will help me not fail too hard.

I know that cotton and linen can stretch a little so if my top stretches more after blocking, I'm thinking it will only help with my long torso.  I also know that even when I'm getting gauge, I usually like my ribbing a bit tighter, so knitting a 32" size to fit my ever changing hip/ waist measurements may help me get a nice fit in the ribbing even if it grows a bit with washing.  Stefanie also mentioned in the Ravelry discussion that we should choose a size a bit under our actual waist measurement for a good fit.  I am such a loose knitter that I almost always choose a size below what I think I need because it ends up fitting perfectly.  Choosing a 32" top gives me a little leeway if my gauge loosens up as I work.

But I did actually get gauge this time with needles sized 0 for the ribbing and 2 on the lace.

See how I copied the colors from one of the pattern samples?  I found the combination of a shade like pomegranate with a color I'm always drawn to (Knit Picks Surf), so contrary to my normal tastes that I had to use them.  They really work well together!

This butterfly lace is hard... in a good way.  One of the goals of Holla Knits collections is to make patterns that are not just wearable, but also interesting to work on.  I can't remember the last time I called a technique hard.  I usually use euphemisms like "challenging" and "tricky" to say "somewhat difficult."  I don't know if it's the busyness of the school year ending or what but I found this little lace swatch straight up hard, which makes me want to start on it all the more.  I likes me a challenge.  If you are going to do this, check out Stefanie's tips on wrapping your mind around this lace pattern.

(more on my Ravelry and Flickr)

The tangled, messy swatches still on the needles are proof of the hectic month I've had.  I'm coasting from that crazy wave straight into this knitalong and trusting that things in my life will settle down enough so I can focus on this lace work.