Thursday, February 19, 2015

One Thing at a Time

Usually seeing a project progress gives me a lift.  Something tangible is getting accomplished!  But this year I've found I'm getting bogged down in projects.  I haven't shifted my expectations to match my decreased knitting time.  The result is little bags of half-finished stuff, stuffed in little places around my half-cleaned house.  I miss monogamous knitting.

So you can see my Drift's Ridge, on the left, which would've been done had I not flubbed the sizing.  Cafe au Lait, center, is now stealing most of my knitting time, since it's part of the Holla Knits KAL that is underway.
Twenty Ten, up top, is such a fast knit, but it's also been set aside for the KAL.
There's a second Fire Opal Tee, in blackberry in the bottom corner, which will be a great mindless knit when things warm up.
Lastly, I have the very, very beginnings of a Offshore V-Neck sweater that I cast on in the space between something blocking and a yarn order arriving.  Why I'd pretend to do damage on this in a few days, I don't know.  It was abandoned with a box coming in the mail, and sits in a basket by the couch.  The basket is supposed to remind me of things, so I don't forget them and cast on new things. I may need to paint the basket something day-glo.

This really isn't that bad.  I know my blog sidebar says I have a million projects on the needles, but some of those are just projects I've made Ravelry pages for without actually beginning.  See, I'm more organized than I seem.

Oh, I miss the days of powering through something until it was done.  Of kind of knowing when I'd have an hour to myself, with nothing stressful looming in the background to unsteady my concentration.  I miss getting to do more than one thing that's good for me every other day.  I miss seeing the phone as a gateway to relationship instead of something to dread.   I remind myself this is just a season in my life.  Sometimes that makes me feel better, sometimes it sounds trite.

Enough of that.  Obviously, I've had enough time to myself to finish the back and half of a front of this sweater, when I'm sure plenty of reading and television watching occurred.  Now I'm going to go run for a bit before anything else comes up.

(more on ravelry, instagramkollabora, and flickr)

By the way, have I ever told you how much you cheer me up?  You do.  I was feeling beyond blah when I started this post, now I'm about to burst out of my front door at a full trot.  Thank you blogging/ knitting/ crafting/ instagram-ing friends!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The return of mauve and other things my mother would've loved

I was so much more content to wear my brother's old blue jeans than dresses straight off the set of Little House on the Prairie.  My mother won on Sundays, though.  Not only did she curl my hair under, like Joey Lawrence,  but she got the itchy, puffed sleeve dresses over my head.  If she dared to say I looked nice, I would then feel forced to walk with a horribly, exaggerated hunched back, muttering under my breath, with a dazed look on my face.  I cannot say how many times I heard her say, "Oh, be pretty.  Just be pretty."  She was only half serious.

When I ordered the Palette yarn in Comfrey and the Gloss Fingering in Velveteen and Hawk, I thought of her.  I remember a mauve skirt and jacket she wore to church, and her mauve nail polish.   Though I liked that the color made me think of her, I would never have seen myself wearing it.  Mauve was synonymous with my mom... a forty-year-old housewife.  That, and the eighties.  I would have died before wearing mauve nail polish.  I was in my twenties when Urban Decay had just launched nail colors like "Acid Rain" and "Roach."  Mauve wasn't my thing, or anyone's thing then. 

 (image via Pinterest)

 (image via Pinterest)
 (image via Pinterest)

 But here I am, a forty one-year-old housewife and mauve is everywhere, growing on me through osmosis.  So my selections for the Holla Knits KAL 2015 are all for you, Mom.  Cafe au Lait is knit in Knit Picks Palette, in comfrey.

This Gloss Fingering will become a pair of Cedar Glen Mitts.  Not only is it mauve-y, but it's even pretty.  Mom would be proud.

Not mauve, but very feminine is the New Girl skirt I'll be knitting up later.  It may be finished after the KAL, but who cares as long as it gets made?  I'm using Paton's Classic dk in sea green and medium grey.

This last knit will be in Cascade 220 sport's Lake Chelan colorway.   It's not a color my mom would've worn, at least not when I was a girl.  But I know she would've approved of the style and the little stitch pattern of the Julep Jacket.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, and flickr)

Truthfully, my mom liked crafts.  All through my childhood she was dabbling in some kind of craft.  There was macrame, tole painting, sewing, and ceramics around the house at different times.  So I'm pretty sure she would've enjoyed all of my knitting projects.  I like to think she might have even wanted to knit along with me.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

It was the seventies and we were three, cut us some slack.  
 Happy Valentine's Day.

(on my instagram)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Veera and Joji Knit Fort Worth

I've been to Madtosh Crafts before, but never for a class.  In fact, I've never done any kind of craft with a group since college.  My first thought was to attend classes at Fiber Fest, but they filled up almost instantly.  My disappointment was completely assuaged by getting a spot in small classes of twenty to twenty five knitters with Veera Välimäki and Joji Locatelli last week for "Veera and Joji Knit America 2015."

Veera and Joji were promoting their newest collection Interpretations 2 (below) by visiting Happy Knits in Portland and Madtosh in Fort Worth.  

See the short sleeved purple garment (True Friend) towards the back?  I am so knitting this in Tosh 80/10/10.

Besides classes there was a trunk show,

a knit night,

and a special colorway dyed by Amy, with Joji and Veera's input, just for the occasion.  It's Mockingjay, the perfect gray.  

 Madtosh Crafts is a beautiful places to be creative.  I totally escaped into the world of thoughtful crafting for those hours.  I'm thinking I need regular breaks like this, not necessarily classes out of town, but maybe camping on the beach, a long day hike, or anything to recharge me creatively during a stressful time in my life.

 As soon as I got back, my non-knitting family and friends wanted to know if I learned anything, what I can do differently now, how I will use this.  My knitting friends online, of course, were all like, "Woooow, how cool!"  No explanation was needed.

But I'm pleased that beyond it being cool to be around such inspiring designers, I really did learn some things I can use to modify existing patterns or create my own designs.  Not sure when that will happen, because I've already jumped into another KAL, but I am properly motivated.

The classes I took were geared toward more experienced knitters (many of my classmates were test knitters or designers).  I figure between them, our teachers, and our colorful surroundings, some creativity had to rub off on me.

My first class was Shawls and Shapes with Veera Välimäki .  Remember I've only made one shawl so far, but did begin to queue bazillions of shawl patterns after that.  But I've just never been motivated to look beyond a Ravelry pattern search for a design.  After having Veera lead us in a sort of "Choose Your Own Shawl Adventure" kind of activity, I feel like I have to create one myself.  I'd never have pictured myself designing a shawl, but now I have campfire shawl ideas, scarf-like shawl ideas, wedding shawl ideas, all rolling around in my head.

These are her mini shawls she brought to give us an idea of basic shawl shapes- so cute and perfect.

Then there's my mini shawl.  Yeah... not so perfect.  I began with a circular shawl, then added short row stripes.  But, hey, I was paying attention to Veera, not my increases.  Our notes included basic recipes for all the various shapes and tips for edges and blocking.

I most definitely want to knit one of Veera's shawls now.   I've always been more of a sweater and hat knitter.  Even though all of Ravelry has knit a Color Affection, I still have not.   However, I'm thinking of making Stripe Study in these lovely colors of Tosh Merino Light.

 It's appropriate, as my second class with Veera was all about Stripes.  She covered horizontal, vertical, short row stripes, textural and blocked stripes.  See her neat swatches, below.  You know how you know there are neater ways to deal with introducing new colors and jogless stripes but you keep doing things the same old way because you're too lazy to learn anything new?  This was my chance to focus, and practice these techniques until I got them.  Well, my brioche needs work, but whose doesn't?  I especially liked the helix striping technique.

Here are my not-so-neat swatches.  Keep in mind I took the "bring yarn scraps for classroom use" email seriously.  I did, indeed, bring scraps- scraps of puke green, burgundy, navy, and purple.  They weren't quite as lovely to behold as my classmates' coordinated pairings in madelinetosh, but you get the point.  

Veera did cover using the color wheel for stripes, value, and hue.  My swatches looked ever more like abominations to me as the class went on.   When I'm knitting "for real" I usually just wing it with colors, but I like the idea of using a more thoughtful approach to how I incorporate it in a design.

This is a good time to segue into Joji's class on Aproach to Sweater Design.   Remember, I just made one of Joji's lovely designs, Dragonflies?  Well, she discussed her entire design process: from keeping track of inspirations, to brainstorming construction methods tailored to your reader, choosing yarn, and some size grading.  We practiced getting true measurements and solving fit problems with industry standard sizing.  I liked seeing how she thought/drew everything out, on paper, from the beginning to the end.   It was a good push for those of us who gets lots of ideas for designs but assume someone else is probably doing it better, so why bother.   Joji encouraged us to just try thinking it through and see what happens.  By the way, I think I'm gonna have to learn Excel.  Boo.

One thing I thought was cool was her challenge for us to forget what we know about construction and just envision what we want made in a new way, then see if we can get there, practically.  That sounds like a great experiment in creativity.  It's the kind of thing you do when you're a new knitter and want to make something that looks "beyond your skill level" using simpler techniques.   Anyway, I was completely inspired.

And that's the main thing I got from this event.  Besides all of the techniques I had learned,  I was leaving with the desire to make things burning brighter than ever inside of me.

Thank you Veera and Joji for the inspiration!

(more on instagram and flickr)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dragonflies Jumper

I wanted to finish this pullover, by Joji Locatelli, before sitting in on one of her classes.  Kind of like reading an author's book before hearing them speak.  It just happens that I recently won this pattern in a giveaway by the crazy-talented Elena of Elena Knits.  So I did a late-night knitting cram session before we left for Fort Worth.

I finished the sleeves, two at a time, then I steam-blocked the lace body to make it wearable before we left.  That left picking up stitches for the ribbed neckline on the drive.  My hope was to start Veera Välimäki's Twenty Ten and get partway through before attending her classes.

It's good that I had a seven hour drive ahead of me.  I re-did the neckline several times and still feel like it's a bit high, though the fit in the arms is awesome.  Amy Herzog's Craftsy course has me totally paranoid of tops that give you a low bust.  The clinical term is LowBustphobia, or maybe that's the hashtag, I can't remember.   I can't help but like this higher crew neck.  It makes me think of raglan t-shirts I wore in my early twenties and teens.  It also came out very similar to Isabel's sweater, which I emulated with my modifications.

One caveat: I haven't actually done a true wet blocking on this.  It may be loose when I'm done and that may make a difference.  But I'll think about that tomorrow.  Lets look at pictures of it while it fits perfectly, shall we?

 I used a good basic yarn I've never tried before, Valley Yarns Northampton.  I found it comparable to Wool of the Andes or Patons Classic in the way it knit up.  I can see using this for sweater quantities in the future, especially when it's on sale.

I got gauge with a size 3 needle.  I'm still using only bamboo circulars, since realizing it helps me keep a consistent gauge, plus I opted for the much looser English knitting style, since it's second nature to me.  I needed no added distractions while working this heavily patterned pullover.

My mods followed Isabel's, except that I switched from the lace pattern to the bottom 2x2 ribbing on row 5, I think.  See below, where I realize my shoes match my sweater.

I wish I had a before and after of the steam blocking process.  I think my husband wondered why I stayed up so late to finish knitting a drab, olive mess.  That is, until he saw it blocked.  That earned an audible "Wow!"  I was a miracle worker... a tired, obsessive miracle worker.

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

I will talk about my classes with Joji and Veera next time.  I came home to much busy-ness, a set wedding date for my daughter and her fiancé, tons of laundry, and the Holla Knits KAL 2015.  I'm late casting on for it, too, so why not join me?

My other post on Dragonflies is here.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bits of Color

I found some color this winter with my phone.  I thought I'd share.  

(more on instagram and flickr)