Monday, May 25, 2015

Julep Jacket

So happy to have finished my Julep Jacket!  I mentioned I was taking part in the Tops, Tanks, and Tees Knitalong.  Well, this is my finished top.  I don't know if I'll get my tank finished by the end.  

I've been holding on to this Cascade 220 Sport for a  Julep Jacket, by Katie Canavan, for a couple of years.  As with every one of Katie's patterns I've knit, this had a neat little construction detail, or a new-to-me technique.  This time it was the snap closure and Peter Pan collar.  

Not to mention that little bow tie stitch.  I realize these are not the clearest of photos.  But it was pouring rain and I didn't want my husband to have to get wet standing outside for the sake of knitting, so I got in the only dry, bright spot and he took pictures from inches away.  My hair was also sort of fixed after church... so two birds...

Details:  I totally followed the pattern, except my gauge was off, stitch-wise, by almost a half stitch per inch.  There was a time where I would've said, "Close enough." and knit on in a size small or medium that became a finished size large.  I have learned.  So, I knit the x-small for a finished size small/medium.  I didn't want it to be too fitted.  It blocked out a bit more, for a nice, easy fit.

I'll mainly wear this open and over t-shirts and jeans, but, oh man, wouldn't it be cute over the right vintage dress?

I used size 3 needles and the aforementioned Cascade ,in the Lake Chelan colorway- which is just the right combo of green and blue.  It's always more fun to knit in bright colors.

When I got to the collar, I was a little confused.  What I understood it to say wasn't what I was seeing in some of the finished Julep's on Ravelry.  They were all lovely, of course, but I think some of the knitters folded the collar completely in half to sew it down, creating more of a mandarin-style collar.  I, understood, from the directions to just fold it at the purl/ turn row and sew it down to about three rows before the turn row, creating a small hem about 3 rows deep.  This made the collar larger, with the Peter Pan shape I saw in the samples.  I could be wrong since it's hard to tell what's going on from small FO photos.   Anyway, I think I prefer this way best, so I went with it.

The snap closure was another new technique- so simple, but it took me a few tries to do it neatly.  I ended up using this tutorial.

I love the quilted look the bow tie stitches give it!  I also love the neat finishes on all of the edges and the perfect three quarter length of the sleeve.

This means I've knit every design from Holla Knits that I had yarn stashed for.  It's nice to complete a goal, even when it's not the Earth-shattering kind.

Check out the rest of that Holla Knits collection, here, and Katie's other designs, which are so varied in type,  here.

Other posts on Julep Jacket are:  planning a queue clearing, little bowties, and being part of a KAL.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Tank

While my Julep Jacket was blocking (And it blocked out so well!), I started Valentina's Shannon tank top.  I'm getting better about knitting more tightly, even in English style, but this still requires a size 2 needle.  The fact that it's a tank top, however, makes it move pretty quickly.

That's a provisional cast on in the gray yarn, done with a crochet hook and my needle.  I'm getting much better at this.  The first time I tried this, years ago, it was pitiful.  I was wanting to knit these boxer- style shorts.  I ended up just crocheting a long chain and knitting into each individual stitch, afterward. Of course, I had no real concept of gauge then, so it was doomed from the beginning.   Maybe my husband's grandfather could have worn the shorts I was casting on for, but they never would have fit me.

I like the crispness of linen before it's washed, even if it is a bit trickier to work with.  After washing, though, it will be so soft and comfortable.  I'm knitting the xs, expecting to get a small in the end.  If, it has a bit of positive ease, I'll be fine with that.  There comes a point, in every summer, where anything that touches my skin will be drenched in sweat and itchy. So loose is okay.  

I thought I would be almost finished with this, but the end of the school year has different plans for me.  Also, my husband just informed me we are tiling our backsplash... like right now.  Where are you in your summer knitting?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tops Tanks And Tees Time

It's that time of Spring where knitters in, and around, the Very Shannon boards on Ravelry get together to knit some warm weather knits in the Tops, Tanks, and Tees Knitalong.

Some of us need encouragement to leave off the heavy sweater knitting and try cotton for the first time.  Others want to spice things up with silk or linen. Even more daring, to me, are the knitters contemplating summer dresses.  Then, some of just want to stick with our trusty wool, but end the sleeve at a three quarter length.

With my first project, above, I didn't have to alter a thing.  The Julep Jacket, by Katie Canavan, is both cropped and shorter-sleeved.  I have wanted to make this for quite a while, so I'm very excited to show you this sneak peek of the finished bottom band and button tab.  Now, I just need to get on that collar and block it all out.

This is my third TTTKAL to participate in.  I really love this group of knitters.  They always teach me something and encourage me when my projects come out too big or too small.  Now that I spend about half of my knitting time on summer weight knits, my favorites list explodes with all of their suggestions and finished objects.

This knit along has been one of my big motivators to try new fibers for summer.  Last year it was 100% linen for Hawt Sands.  Before that it was cotton blends with Lady Bat.  (I just realized both of those knits are from the same designer.)  But, the inspiration continues on through the summer, even after the KAL has ended.

My second project for this year's KAL will be Shannon, a tank top designed by Valentina Strokina during last year's TTTKAL.  I bought it, but just sort of sat on it for a while, until the warm weather came back around.

I'll be using Cotlin for this, a yarn I'm getting very used to working with.  As you can see I'm not finished with the bright blue-greens yet.  But after these two tops, it's all going to be neutrals for a while.

My new yarn to try this summer will be Lindy Chain, which I'm planning on using after these two tops, for Annie Claire's Morning Mist.  

It's really nice to knit up a design by a friend I've made on Ravelry.  Katie, Valentina, and Annie are all lovely knitters I've had the privilege of getting to know via the Very Shannon and Holla Knits forums and various KALs.  Want to be friends, too?  It's not too late to join in on the TTTKAL.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Good Memories

You know all those sock scrap memory blankets you see all over knitting sites?  You know how they take forever, but still considerably less time than a Beekeeper's Quilt?  Well, I finally had enough sock scraps to start one.  I realized mine would take even longer than the average knitter's because I haven't used fingering weight yarn as much as most.  

That's why I'm much further on my swatch blanket squares.  They are mostly knit in dk, worsted, and bulky.  It is a memory blanket too, incorporating details from the patterns they were taken from.  However, I am wanting to knit more accessories, shawls, and socks, and would like to put those little leftovers to a purpose.  It beats having them form a giant tangle in a bag under the bed.  It also beats having a week long seaming session since, unlike my swatch blanket, these squares are formed by picking up stitches from the previous square.  There are no seams, just two ends to weave in.

And that is the draw of the mitered square blanket: no seaming, just knit whatever, whenever you feel like it.  This can be a no- rules project that changes, in color families and fiber type, as your tastes change over the months.  

So, I used Sue Ann Kendall's free pattern to get started and size 3 needles.  You can see that my entire sock scrap collection, along with the beginnings of the blanket, fit into one small sized project bag. (Isn't the "Thank you for Being a Friend" bag from Nomadic Yarns the best?)

I was about four squares in when I received a surprise from the very sweet Andi of My Sister's Knitter.   Yes, those beautiful mini skeins up top were all gifted to me.   Beyond being full of beautiful colors, and yarns I'd never seen, it was a touching bit of encouragement on a bad day.

It arrived on a particularly difficult day for my grandparents and myself.  I was putting on a smiling face for my son, as I picked him up for school, but not really feeling it.  Then, he said something funny and I watched his lanky form lope out to the mailbox for me and couldn't help smiling.  He came back with a little manilla envelope full of these skeins and two comforting cups of tea.   My smile became a genuine, toothy grin.

It is so nice to be thought of.  Some people have the gift of encouragement.  Andi is one of those people.   If you've read her blog, you know that she is a good internet hostess, always interesting and interested in others.  She likes to get people together for the sake of togetherness, and I think that is an art that can easily be lost today.   Her place is a warm, inviting home where everyone is welcomed.

Now I have real decisions to make about what color to place where on my blanket.  The squares will no longer just be memories of a project I used the scraps for, but will now be memories of a friend's kindness to me.  It will remind me to be kind in unexpected ways, too.

(slow progress being made on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

I cannot wait for the day where I have some little mini skeins of my project leftovers to gift to someone else.  This has spurred me on to buying more fingering weight yarn recently than I normally would.  I want leftovers for my blanket and for others'.   First, I need to learn the trick to skeining up yarn so nicely.  

Check out Andi's Sock scrap blanket and her interview on Junkyarn about the memory blanket process.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Southern Lady's Sweater

When I talk about this cardigan I always want to put on an affectation of a southern lady's voice.  I am a southern lady, so this is very affected.  It just makes me think of Scarlet O 'Hara sipping a mint julep at a county picnic.

Anyway, this is the Julep Jacket by Katie Canavan, and it features a little bow tie stitch that is very conducive to knitting quickly.  I find myself hurrying to the row where you pick up your "bow ties."

I'm making the smallest size, and though my gauge seems perfect so far, I wouldn't mind if it grew a bit, since I'm not a size 32".

I love this Lake Chelan color from Cascade.  It is the most obvious combination of my two favorite colors- green and blue.

I am hoping to finish the body this weekend and only be left with sleeves and such next week when another Knitalong begins.  This one is the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL with Very Shannon.  Technically, this jacket could qualify since it is a three quarter sleeve, but I tend to think of summer weight knits when I join the TTTKAL because I need a little encouragement to knit with yarn other than wool.  It is so very practical, but it just doesn't feel as natural to work with.  I hope you'll join us on the Very Shannon forum, where there is already a huge list of inspiring projects.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Twenty Ten

Twenty Ten kind of slipped under the blogging radar.  You may remember I began it on the way to Madtosh Fort Worth to see Veera Välimäki and Joji Locatelli.  That last sentence really threw off of all my non-knitting Texan relatives.  ("Ya'll are goin' to a what? To see a what and what?")  But I set it aside for two Knitalongs and only picked it back up last week.  

Tada!  This should be a must for every knitter.  First off, the construction is so different!  Diagonal fronts, bulky but short sleeved,  moss stitch and reverse stockinette?  Then, there's the fact that it only takes about a skein and a half of Cascade Eco yarn.  I happened to get mine on sale for less than $14 a skein.  That makes this a $21 sweater.  But, more than those reasons, it is just so cool looking.  

I am glad I chose this as my introduction to Veera's designs.   I am a sweater knitter at heart, so it was the perfect gateway pattern to her shawls.  Stripe Study is the shawl I'd like to do first, in Madelinetosh's 80/10/10 Fingering in Reindeer and Chicory color ways.  But I'm not finished with her sweaters.  At Madtosh Crafts, I was able to see and feel of her True Friend sample.  (I did a lot of staring and feeling.) Of course, I got some Tosh Merino Light in Esoteric and Antique Lace for it.

Details on Twenty Ten: I knit the size small with size 6 needles in Cascade Eco, as I mentioned.  There were no modifications at all for this.  I may have made it a tad longer than directed but I have a longer torso, so I don't think it even registers.  Mine took 11 cheap buttons from the craft store, too.  Would you believe I wove in ends and sewed on buttons all in the same day as my finishing the knitting?  I know, that is a first! 

My favorite things about this one, besides the interesting construction, are the two textured stitches sitting next to each other at the shoulder and the diagonal front.  And, oh my gosh, the little pocket!

One other post that includes this knit is here: One Thing at a Time

On a completely different subject, I am just now weeding my garden for summer.  I decided to just nurture the herbs, grapes, and Texas-hardy flowers I planted last year, instead of worrying about a dye garden.  Maybe next summer I'll get to that project.  

As you can see, it has loads of green, and some flowers starting to bloom, so I'm satisfied.  I even got an old school beach lounger to plant right in the center so I can hide and read all summer long. 

(It really isn't sweater weather, here.)

(My garden looks better than it should with surviving herbs and hardy plants from last summer.  )

(My husband, who once proclaimed, "I hate working in the garden!"  raised this bed of roses, Mexican Tulips, and Bridal Wreath for me while I weeded this weekend. )

I have a real sense of accomplishment this week with my garden weeded and almost all of my winter sweaters on or off of the needles.

So, on my crafting horizon is my easy stockinette project, Drift's Ridge, and I just began Julep Jacket.  I had hoped to include it in the Holla Knits KAL 2015, but having to do New Girl twice slowed me down.  After that, I will be officially caught up on all of the Holla Knits patterns I had queued... just in time for the summer issue.

I have lots of summer knits queued up and a stockpile of summer-weight yarn ready to go.  Have you guys already started knitting for summer, or are you trying to finish up all of the winter WIPs, like me?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wilco is 20, We're 21

Our marriage is 21, that is.  We celebrated it quietly by almost forgetting and remodeling our tiny kitchen.  It will now be a nicer looking, tiny kitchen.   But a couple of weeks later, we did sneak away for a day to see Wilco begin their 20th anniversary tour in Houston.

I never get my hopes up about stuff, just in case it falls through.  I make preliminary plans, then forget about it until the day comes.  However, I did prepare for this by listening to most of their albums every chance I got the last couple of months.  I let each one settle on me slowly, and on whoever rode in the car with me.  My son is officially sick of Wilco.

I needed to blow off all responsibility for a day and be like a carefree twenty-something again.  I went to lots of concerts when I was young, my first being The Jets.  Remember them?  I didn't think so. Look, in the sixth grade, a concert is a concert.  If you can watch more than 10 seconds of that link, bless your heart.   Maybe I will redeem my coolness by saying I also saw The Cure, 10,000 Maniacs (twice), and The Wallflowers in the 90's.   Or maybe I just dated myself.

Speaking of dating myself, In the nineties, I was also at the Duran Duran Dilate Your Mind tour.  Pre-teen me, with a Tiger Beat crush on Simon LeBon would have died.   My husband and I went to several concerts when we were dating: more Natalie Merchant, with a little Sarah Mclachlan and Tina Turner thrown in.  And just to make sure he didn't feel completely emasculated, Chris Isaac and Peter Gabriel (the best).   We saw Pink Floyd at Rice Stadium until it was rained out and we waded a mile to our car.  Cool, right?  I'm not even mentioning the cheesy Depeche Mode / Pink Floyd laser light show that was one of our first real dates.

Then we got married, started our family, and just didn't do that kind of thing.  We stayed home, played with babies, and camped on a shoestring budget.  It was a big deal for us to go out on my husband's birthday to see the first Lord of the Rings movie in the theatre, by ourselves.  Too bad a couple of kids cut in front of us in line and took the last two tickets in the house.

We have been to a few youth group concert events.  Those concerts were really great and very meaningful, David Crowder and Phil Whickam being my favorites, but those were planned by someone else.   We just fell into going by taking part in church events.

(more on flickr and instagram)

Last Thursday was our plan.  The Bayou Music Center is small.  It makes me think of a historic theatre in our county seat.  It was like being a kid again, wedged into a tiny theatre seat, between two big guys.

So, Wilco opened with Via Chicago.  My husband isn't as big a fan as me, and he was thinking, "They're opening with this?"  Where the album version has that slowed down, warped sound  throughout the song, they threw in crazy, high speed, metal drums for the concert.  It was pretty funny to watch the rest of the band continue singing and playing at the usual tempo with that going on in the background.  I think that engaged my husband.   "Warped sound"?  Obviously, I'm not a music critic; but if you've heard them, you know about all the discordant stuff they throw into their songs.

Here's the Setlist, if you're interested.  Highlights, for me were the opening and every song from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot because it is special to me, especially Kamera.  I loved hearing them play Secret of the Sea because it's a little obscure and the Mermaid Avenue projects were where I first heard about the band.  They carry a feeling of innocence that makes me think of my young family, whereas most of Wilco's stuff is... let's face it, Jeff Tweedy has got joyful melancholy down, folks.

A video posted by Michelle Carter (@michellecarte) on

(my blurry phone clip of Kamera.  This was a moment for me.)

Born Alone is another favorite they performed and the whole second encore was awesome.  For that, they moved to the front of the stage for acoustic versions of The Thanks I Get, Hoodoo Voodoo, and Shot in the Arm.

They sound every bit as good live as on the album, but there are things that I heard Thursday night that I hadn't noticed before- little things like a bass line that's not as prominent to my ears via cd, or a lilt in Jeff Tweedy's voice that I never noticed until I watched him sing it.  They weren't big things, just little things to make each song feel like a new experience.  Why have I waited so long to do this?

Want a taste of this concert?  This youtube channel has a few clips where you can hear the audience singing along and clapping, off-beat, along with a few of their tunes.  That's always nice.