Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Stashbusting Scarf

My instagram has been all about this scarf lately.  Though the pattern was written with Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails in mind, I found that I could use several of the tails I have in combination with leftovers in my stash from Laylow, Sothern, Holla Back TankCedar Glen Mitts, and a skein of alpaca I've never used.  It's not a true rainbow color combo, but I like that if I isolate any three colors together, anywhere in the scarf, they look good next to each other.

I kind of like the randomness of it.  Plus, I'm using my unicorn tails for something special.  Lets face it, I'm probably not going to be buying more madelinetosh for a while and not in the 20 colors I would need to follow the pattern exactly.

I finished the entire Gilmore Girls series too.  That's a lot of mindless knitting accompaniment.  Favorite moments include the episode "Friday Night is Alright for Fighting" when the Gilmore family spends an exhausting evening airing their grievances, laughing, drinking, and repeating the process over and over.  Then there was the fact that Sebastion Bach had a recurring role in the show as Gil, and the band's initial reaction to him as a rock n roll geezer cracked me up.  Don't forget Kirk's  artsy movie and modern dance performance.

But there were things I felt were missing by the series finale and I was a little disappointed it was wrapped up the way it was.  But I'm still upset about the last couple of seasons of all of my favorite shows, except the ones that were cancelled after one season, so it's not surprising.  What did take me off guard was my husband's reaction to the finale.  Like two nights later he said, "Something's bothering me. " and though I expected to hear about some real life drama, no it was the fact that he didn't like what the writers did with Rory in the finale.  That amused me.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cedar Glen Mitts

I told you I wasn't finished with purple.  These are Cedar Glen Mitts, by Katie Canavan.  They are so lovely and spring-like that I thought I'd do some planting in them.  Not really, are you kidding?  I love these too much.  I couldn't find them when I was ready to take these photos and I tore up my house, looking.  Of course, they were right beside me in my knitting basket.  At least the upheaval gave me a reason to organize some of the clutter around here.

A super fun and quick knit,  I could easily have made two pairs from two coordinating skeins of Gloss Fingering.  I chose Hawk and Velveteen for these and I think they'd look good knit with the colors reversed in their placement.

The construction is interesting, too.  That made for a nice break between larger projects.  Seriously, they really do scream, "Spring!"  I need to take them for a walk through a field of wildflowers or on an evening bike ride.

This is my fourth pattern by Katie's to have knit.  I love the variety in the designs- shorts, a sailor top, a clutch, these mitts, and next up will be her Julep Jacket.  I could wear a whole outfit designed by Katie, an extremely mismatched outfit, but still...

The details:  I modified the pattern slightly because I couldn't get as fine a gauge as required for the pattern and I didn't want to knit moss stitch in continental.  I had really good notes about my mods written on the back of one of the yarn labels.  I know, smart.  Anyway, I think it got thrown away in the crazy purge as I searched for the mitts. 

The best I can remember is that I used size 2 needles, with my Gloss Fingering yarn, and knit two extra repeats of the lace portion.  This made it the right length.  But to get the right width on the seed stitch portion, I had to pick up 5 stitches less. 
I knit 10 less stitches than directed before making my wrap and turns, however, I think I did wrap and turn as many times as instructed.
Even though I had less stitches in width for the seed stitch part, I still have the correct amount of stitches between the thumb bind off and the hand-end of the mitts.  I realize this is strange, but they fit me perfectly.  

Thanks to the Holla Knits KAL 2015, I have two knits off of my queue and onto my body.  Next up I'm making the New Girl skirt and Katie's Julep Jacket.  There's a month left to this knit along.  It's not too late to join in, especially if you're wanting to make an accessory, like these mitts.

Though I'm not planting these at the moment, they are going in a planter in the house.  Due to well pump issues and our decision to remodel our kitchen, I guess I won't be planting a dye garden in the back yard this spring.  Maybe I'll get around to it later.  Instead, I'm focusing on my house plants.  These will look so good in our kitchen when it's finished.

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

My other post on these mitts is here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Laylow! Emily and Richard are on the Warpath

Do you know how long I have waited to make Shannon Cook's Laylow shawl?  I think I ordered yarn for it before my pattern booklet came in.  Then I just took the yarn out every once in a while to look at it until the day I cast on.  

I'm sure you're like that too, if not about making things, then about something else.  We daydream about what we'll make, then before it's completed, we start daydreaming about the next thing we'll make, or room we'll re-model, or vacation we'll take, or game we'll level up on, or album we'll purchase...

This project name is in reference to Gilmore Girls, hence all of the Gilmore Girl linkage at the bottom of the post.  The pattern is from Seasonless by Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond.  The whole collection has a real relaxed, weekend feel to it.  It was released in a beautiful ebook, with photos taken by Jane's brother Nicholas Kupiak (who also photographed Island and Journey) and as a limited edition print booklet.   I believe Nicholas' work is what forced me to break my ebooks-only rule for knitting patterns.  I was attempting to cut down on the clutter in my home by stopping the influx of books.  But, how could I not get print copies of these lovely collections?  I figure my daughter will be moving out soon, so her room can be my library.

Back to the pattern.   You may remember that I'm fairly new to shawl knitting.  I live where it's warm, or hellish, and I only wore knits when it was really cold.  Because when it gets cold here, I'm really cold.  I was also focused on garment knitting.  Last summer, I knit Antipodes, though, and re-thought my stance on shawls.  They're basically light scarves or shrugs, which makes sense in a warmer winter.  The main plus is that they allow me to use really nice yarn without having to break the bank to buy enough.  A $20 skein for a versatile accessory is easier on the budget than 5 or 6 $20 skeins for a sweater!  Surprisingly, Laylow was the design I wanted to knit first from the collection.  It's very casual in style, but the knitting has an architectural look to it.  I love the juxtaposition of the two stitch textures when it's wrapped around your shoulders.

Anyway, the designer, Shannon was hosting a surprise Knitalong this Spring and I was waiting to cast on, hoping the theme would fit this shawl.  Since it turned out to be a Gilmore Girls KAL, I went ahead and cast on.  I can see Rory wearing these subtle colors, right?  Basically, GG covers just about any style of knit.

There's feminine- Lorelai with the necklines and flutter sleeves,
colorful- Lorelai, Sookie's kitchen uniform tops and Lane with the stripes and the hair,
vintage- Rory with the Chanel-esque DAR outfits and Lane with the quirky sweaters at the diner, classic knitwear- Rory and Paris with all of the argyle , tweed, and vests,
blankets- with homey afghans and quilts,
and backwards baseball cap- Luke.
See, all covered.

I have to confess that I made this twice.  The first one was waaay to big.  My Ravelry friends tried to encourage me that a nice, drapey shawl was great to have.  Thanks, guys.  That's the good thing about knitting in groups- lots of encouragement and feedback.  But unless I was going to rename the shawl "Saglow" I knew I would have to re-knit it.  Though I washed my swatch, I must've gotten into the knitting zombie zone and relaxed my tension.  This thing was so big that I eliminated one whole pattern repeat of the main body of the shawl and it was still so loose that, after blocking, the garter didn't look all that different from the wrapped and dropped stitches.  Did I say that I ruled in my last post?  Let me modify that to: I try hard to be sufficient.

So, I frogged it and started over.

 The details:   The second time around, I used size 2 needles with the same two skeins of Gynx yarn.  When choosing my yarn, I knew I wanted to use Gynx Yarns, but I wanted it right away in two colors that would coordinate.  That's always a little scary when ordering online.  I suppose if I were investing in a sweater's worth, I could email the dyer and ask their opinion before ordering.  But this was just two skeins for a shawl, so I went with the Single Merino, in Caramel and Berries, and Glitz Sock, in Goth Girl, for the border.  Even though they were two different bases and the Glitz has stellina, they so went together.

 I followed everything as directed, but I noticed my gauge was now tighter than the pattern, so I added one repeat in the body and one in the border.  I still used almost the same amount of yarn for it, with two extra repeats, as in my first shawl that had one less repeat than directed.  Crazy.  Obviously, I was determined to have a very defined garter and dropped stitch "stripes."  And I did.  Blocking didn't alter the shawl as much since the yarn had already been wet- blocked before.  I love, love, love it.  I think I'll blast my AC all summer so I can wear it around the house.

 P.S. :  Do you see the little gray hairs on my head?  I've been noticing them the last few projects I edited photos for.  It's very subtle now, but eventually it may be my excuse to full-on color my hair.  Or not.

P.S.S. :  Have you ever googled your favorite show's fan art.  It's very informative.  I found sketches of Lorelai , taken straight out of her cameo in Dune.  Scientific pie charts,  floor plans, memes aplenty, wishful thinking, and Luke's real daughter.  There's even a rendition of Lorelai's love that could have been and the most loyal or her many loves.

My other post on this shawl is here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cafe au Lait

Guys!  I knit a super long lace and cable cardigan out of fingering weight yarn.  If you don't know knit speak, let me translate this for you:  I rule.
That is, me and the rest of the knitters making their own Cafe au Lait sweaters, by Kirsten Singer of Klever Knits, in the Holla Knits Knitalong 2015.

The truth is that it wasn't near as time consuming as it appears.  Fingering weight lace moves fast and the pattern is enjoyable, so you tend to want to reach one more cable... one more repeat.. etc.  I also made mine a few repeats longer (4, I think) because I knew I would probably be stretching it width-wise when blocking.  It appears to be about as long as one of the samples, but I have a feeling I may be taller than the model, so I wanted to be sure.

This is pretty much the perfect kind of sweater for my climate.  I could use it year round in a cold movie theatre and most of the winter outside.  I like the batwing, too.  It makes wearing layers easy.

It also makes me think of my mom.  I wore her little watch pendant yesterday because she was on my mind.

The details, in case you care:  I used size US 5 needles with Knit Picks Palette yarn in the Comfrey color.  This is my first time to work with Palette yarn, though I always admire the color options in the Knit Picks catalog.  I enjoyed working with it.  It has a bit of a halo to begin with, but I feel like it will withstand wear really well.

Though I blocked my swatch and chose my size accordingly (I got 3 less stitches per 4" which meant I would want to knit down one size for a better fit.), I still felt insecure about how tiny the thing looked on the needles, so I spot blocked the lower half of the back. It stretched out nicely.  I let it dry overnight, then continued knitting, a little more confident.  I wanted at least 7 inches of positive ease.

Even though the size seemed fine for me,  I followed Allyson's suggestion to knit the front pieces one size larger, in width, so that my sweater would button comfortably in front without any pulling.  I doubt I'll wear it buttoned, but I liked the option.  In the photo above, it doesn't look super flattering buttoned, but some of that is the angle it was taken at, and some is the fact that I'm wearing baggy cords that were almost falling off of me and I had to keep hitching up all day.  Just being honest.  So ignore it if you're worried that you too will, suddenly, become pear shaped if you make this sweater.  :)

So I made the fronts a size medium, making sure to lengthen them the way I did the back.   Remember, I was already knitting the smallest size, expecting it to come out closer to the medium size.  So I knit my fronts using the medium directions, knowing they would probably be wider than the size medium.

Buttoned, and laying flat it measures about 38" at bust.  Slightly open, like most of us will wear it, it is 40-42".  That's a good 6-8" of positive ease.  It's also a really flexible knit, that's why it's hard for me to pinpoint the exact measurements.  It can so easily stretch any which-a-way.  I think I could have blocked it more aggressively for length or width if I'd wanted to.

The finishing wasn't bad at all.  It is so much easier to sew seams when there is an obvious stitch pattern to help me line the pieces up straight.  Sewing on the buttons, however, took me about as long as the knitting.  It's always this way.  I will say that I'm getting pretty good at the button sewing thing.  There was no blood or weird knots to be found.  I did it all in one episode of Rectify.   Basically, I was relieved to be finished and disturbed by the show i was watching, all at the same time.

These aren't the best photos, but I'm using a different camera, trying to figure out all of the settings in bright, afternoon sun.  I'm pleased to say that it wasn't even uncomfortable to wear this sweater out.

I'd hoped it would get a little wear before the temperature rises.  I miss having my daughter around to take quick photos for me.  I can tell her what I want and she just "gets it."  Whereas my son, bless his heart, was more interested in telling me about a video game.   He did contribute the photo of the sky through our tree, though.

So, what would I like to make next of Kirsten's patterns?  Axial was on my wish list, but I want to make it really oversized (like the blue sample) with City Tweed, so I'll wait on that til next winter.  I'm thinking either Summer Vanilla or Tungsten Tank needs to happen soon, maybe for the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL?  I could wear those like crazy.

English Roses has an easy fit that I like and I'm thinking Staggered Cardigan, would look cute, maybe even a little cropped.

I also have this idea that I want to use Elemental Lines, and some other Holla Knits At Home collection patterns, plus a few I've pinned on Pinterest to spruce up our camper.  I want all seventies colors like my kitchen, when I was growing up- avocado, yellow, orange, brown...

No, I am not done with purple yet.  There will be shawls, there will be mitts, there will be a scarf, and there will be another sweater.  Then I will move on to another color.

My other posts on Cafe Au Lait:  Thinking of my mom,  half of a front, and seaming seems to take forever.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gilmore Girls Knit-a-Long

I put it off as long as I could.  I mean I watched all of my old favorites, like Firefly, Lost, anything with David Tennant, and The Closer, multiple times.  Then I did junk food tv, like Felicity, Friday Night Lights, Dead Like Me, and The IT Crowd.  I watched newish favorites, like Longmire and Orphan Black all the way through...again.  I tried new things like Blechley Circle and The Big Bang Theory.  (Wow, this list is making me sound like a sad, little couch hermit.)  I felt like the only thing left to try was Dexter and Gilmore Girls.

Why did I wait so long?  I know why.  It was all those commercials, back in the day, with Lauren Graham talking a mile a minute.  So, I gave it a try and once I got used to the speed of the script delivery, I started to love the show.  She's a talky mom with a talky daughter.  Hey, I'm a talky mom with a talky daughter.  Her daughter ends up in college.  Hold on to your seat, but my daughter has ended up in college too.  They both have lots of inside jokes and thrive on entertaining each other with odd or inappropriate comments. Again, that's us.  Okay, that's where the similarities end, but it is a good show for knitting along with.   Yes, it's an estrogen fest, but my husband stays awake during it.  Actually, I'm pretty sure he likes it.  Maybe it's his version of junk food tv.

So, it was like fate when Shannon picked it as a theme for her Very Shannon spring KAL.  I wanted to knit Laylow, which looks right for this KAL, the yarn was burning a hole in the stash, and I was marathoning Gilmore Girls.  See, fate.  I was already screen shotting sweaters and scarves I liked while watching, so now I have an excuse to reproduce at least one of them.

So, the photo above is my first knit for the KAL, Shannon's Laylow shawl from Seasonless.  Will I ever catch up with all of her and Jane Richmond's lovely patterns?  At least I'm finally getting to make this and can use some Gynx Yarn Single Merino in Caramel and Berries, with Gynx's Glitz sock in Goth Girl as the border color.  Tell me these are not the most beautiful skeins ever.

Being sick at my stomach was a bummer today, but as a silver lining, I did accomplish a lot on this shawl.  So much so, that I've already started planning my next Gilmore Girls knit:

a Rory Needs a Break Scarf

Again, all the planets seemed to align, for this project.  I had the obsessive screenshot on my phone, I had just faved this scarf on Ravelry, and I had all of those unicorn tails from my trip to Madtosh Crafts.  Clearly, it was my destiny.

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

I'm sure I'll have to add leftovers to these Unicorn Tails, to get a good scarf length, which is great because most of my interesting, indie- dyed leftovers are fingering weight.

Come, join the Gilmore Girls KAL.  Shannon released a new shawl pattern inspired by Lorelai,  aptly named Lorelai, and Nice and Knit has custom color kits just for this pattern.  You know you want to.