Thursday, June 25, 2015

On a Shawl Kick

You know how I've been itching to use some of the hand dyed single skeins I've collected over the last year, but find that I'm always in the middle of a sweater?  Well the day for my fancier skeins has arrived!  I could wait no longer and cast on a toque with some of my Tosh Vintage in Mockingjay and then immediately cast on Libby Jonson's newest shawl.  Her Antipodes pattern was my initiation into shawl knitting and it converted me.  So after seeing her Rattan Shawl, I knew I had to knit it in my fingering weight skein of the same Mockingjay colorway.

I'd been waiting for her to release that pattern after seeing numerous sneak peeks on instagram.  It looks exactly like rattan, when blocked.  Of course, these are photos are of it in-process and not blocked.  Originally, I thought it would be great to dye up some yarn for it, but I'm going through some health crisis with older relatives, planning a wedding, and mentally unable to try one new thing.  Except the KYOK stitch.  That one I could tackle.

I figure if I can't have the perfect tweedy, ropey color for this shawl, it may as well be in the perfect grey.  And it is so perfect.  It has been hard to set it aside for some gift knitting.

Where Antipodes was extremely feminine and delicate looking to me, this one has an everyday, earthy feel to it- like a a wicker basket or a familiar jute rug.  Does that sound silly?  I always feel like a wannabe expert when I try to describe things I love.  At least I didn't use words like "essence" or "boho", right?

This will not be the end of the shawls for me.  (That sounded like a fatalistic novel title, at least to a knitter.) Libby is hosting a knitalong, in her ravelry group, through the month of July for any of her patterns; so I think I'll do the Settler Shawl next.  I've had a special skein of blue yarn earmarked for that pattern for months.  Why not check out her designs and join us?

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Easy Beach Knitting

My Morning Mist is now at the easy stage I call beach knitting.  I have tried it on several times and it really, truly, seems to fit, so I'm going to knit on.  There is no waist shaping to worry with, just rows and rows of stockinette linen.  If all works according to plan, I'll include my fingering weight mods in my final post about it.

We made it to the beach one day last week as a sort of last hurrah before my daughter gets married.  The only photo I managed to get of her was when she and my son were having DS wars in the backseat and I promised I wouldn't share on social media.  She looked decidedly too young for marriage in that one anyway.  Without photos of my kids to publish on my blog, I guess I'll stick with strangers and knitting.

We spent most of our time flailing around in the water, so there is no photographic evidence of the fun we had talking and floating together.  It was unusually wavy for Galveston. You remember trying to swim the waves as a kid?  You get right in front of one breaking and then take off as it breaks and feel as though you're sailing forward, only to stand and realize you only moved four feet?  Yeah, well we did a lot of that and trying to cup tiny fish in our hands.

There's always that initial yuck I feel about threats of flesh-eating virus on the beach and fake photos on Facebook of sharks supposedly pulled out of Galveston waters a mile from the swimming area.  But we got over it, except for the occasional shriek when scratchy seaweed brushed past our legs in the murky water.

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Omemee Cable Toque

I had some bulkier yarn for this hat, but I really wanted to see this Tosh Vintage in Mockingjay worked in that exact cable stitch.  So, I tweaked the Omemee Cable Toque pattern, by Tara-Lynn Morrison, a little to make it happen.

Mockingjay is an ever-changing grey.   From full sun, to shade, to the waning light of evening, you can see the subtle shifts in the color, here, on my daughter and in progress shots.

I got two skeins in this color while at Veera and Joji Knit America, so they're extra special.  There's a reason this yarn color is in demand.  Look at it, people.

Being worsted weight, it doesn't have the same amount of body, to stand up, as the sample.  But, honestly, I never wear hats that way.  If you do, though, just keep in mind that your Aran should definitely be on the heavier side.

To get my skein to work, I had to wing it, so don't look for any brilliance in my modifications.

My mods: I cast on 18 extra stitches and knit the ribbing in size 5 needles, then increased 4 more stitches, after the ribbing, and switched to size 7 needles.  These 7's were from my new Karbonz interchangeable midi set that I won in Holla Knits' last knit along.  I think it's love.

The important thing was to get the ribbing tight enough to fit my little head and the number of stitches necessary to fully do the cable pattern.

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

If I had wanted my hat to be as tall as the sample, I could've done either an extra half or a full cable pattern repeat before decreasing.

I have a bulkier, solid Aran set aside for another one of these.  I could probably follow the directions more closely with that one, but I am toying with the idea of an unfolded, longer ribbed portion with less of the cabled bit.  We'll see...

I have knit 6 of Tara-Lynn's designs, which can be found as patterns or ready-made, in her shop, Good Night Day.  I think this design is one of my favorites- along with the Petawawa Cable Toque,  Belleville Shawl (in cotton), and my Markham Loop Collar.  I have to say that I am still in awe of how beautifully perfect that Markham Collar came out.  I'd never knit anything like it and it was so much fun to make.

So which of Tara-Lynn's knits will be next on my needles?  There's the Stratford Halter Crop Top, which I'd do in warm weather-friendly yarn, and the Kingston pullover.  I'd also like to try a two-tone, Jarvis Fisherman Toque, too.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Waxing Nostalgic Over a Lace Panel

I love knitting with friends.  For me, that means online knitalongs.  It keeps a solitary hobby from being too solitary and allows for the best part of group knitting- the conversation.  Lots of my knitting friends have been wowing me with their Morning Mists in the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL, so I had to cast one on in the final week.  This time I'm going to be taking part in the Morning Mist KAL hosted by This.Bird.Knits

This is an enjoyable little piece of knitting.  Want proof?  I have messed it up, only to be discovered when about halfway through, three times and I haven't gotten angry once.  Well, I did; but not more than once.  One of these photos is not like the others. Can you spot the mistakes?  Probably not, but the middle picture is the correct one.  Sheesh.

I didn't mind the re-knitting because it was fun and puzzle-like lace.  My mistakes were due to the splitty nature of the Lindy Chain I'm working with.  I'd get a ways through the project, see where part of a strand hadn't been knit into a loop, then get lost in the pattern as I tried to fix it.  This happened over and over again.  But, I don't really see how a chainette yarn, in fingering weight, could be any different.  I think it will be worth the headache, since it feels light and smooth and the lace isn't a very big part of the pattern.  I just need some needles with lace-knitting tips.

Maybe I'll add that to the never-ending Christmas list... right up there with the rest of the pyrex nesting bowls I wanted, that sweater's worth of indie dyed yarn... a kayak... a nice range hood...

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

So, pretty isn't it.  This rectangular panel will be the top of the back of this tee by Annie Rowden.   Annie is such a sweetie.  I first "met" her through the Very Shannon group on Ravelry.  I believe it was in a KAL last summer that she and some other ravelers encouraged me as I pondered my, then  nineteen year old, daughter's engagement.  I was receiving some negativity for allowing her to marry at the age of 20 and this great group of knitters bolstered my confidence.  (Another post, entirely)  So, knitting her pattern is extra special for me.

When she released Morning Mist, I saw that I had some fingering weight Lindy Chain in plum, that I could use, leaving me only one skein to buy in a contrasting color.  The pattern is written for dk weight, but I'm getting gauge with this fingering, and I don't mind if it creates a slightly airy fabric.

I'm halfway through the lace and very excited to start the body.  Check out the other tees in the Morning Mist KAL  here.  There's also #MorningMistKAL on instagram.

Also, the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL has wrapped up and it's project page, with both finished and in-process knits, is here.

I swear, sometimes I look back on knit along projects pages from the past and it's like looking through a yearbook.  I've met so many wonderful people there and remember lots of great conversations we've had.  Then there are all the skills I have picked up along the way, like knitting continental.  They'll always be associated with that knitting group in my mind.  I wonder if Shannon, Annie, and the other group hosts, realize just how wonderful a space they are providing for people like me.  Ah, it must be an emotional night.  Well, I hope you all have a great rest of your weekend.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Shannon, by Valentina Strokina,  is my second knit for the Tops, Tanks, and Tees Knitalong.  Knit in Cotlin, it's light and comfortable, or at least as comfortable as clothing can be in extreme heat.

I knit mine with a bit more positive ease than the sample, because that's just what I'm wearing right now.  I want air flow at all times.  I think this design can easily be worn either way, as I've seen another easy fitting Shannon on the Ravelry projects page.

Details:  I knit this in Knit Picks Cotlin Dk with a size 3 needle.  However, halfway through, someone sat on my needles and they broke, so I subbed a size 2.  Rather than deal with my usual loose gauge issues, I decided to knit one needle size down, knit the smallest size, aim for a relaxed fit, and knit in a loose English style.  Cavalier, I know.  And yet, it worked.

I washed and dried this to get a true feel for the finished product.  It's nice and soft, but not too draped.  It feels more like cotton than linen, but I think it has more durability than straight cotton.  At least, that's what I've noticed with my Cotlin knits in the past.

Okay, I have to make a confession.  I didn't do the narrow lace portion, below, correctly.  After I passed the leaf stitch portion, it must have been quite late at night.  I just misread my pattern.  Basically, I knit the last two thirds of the back's lace like the side lace, but I think they're supposed to be a little bit different.  I didn't realize it was wrong until I was an inch from the bottom.  Needless to say, I didn't start over.  Besides, it still looks great.

 Some of my favorite things about this tank is the way the broader leaf patterned lace narrows down the back, visually shaping the tank.  Had I knit it correctly, I think it would've enhanced the narrowing effect.

 I also liked the reverse stockinette at the armholes and neckline.  They give a nice rounded finish to all of the edges.

And check out the asymmetrical hem.  It's subtle, but still very cool.

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

 Valentina has lots of other designs in her shop and seems to constantly be calling for testers.  The lady never stops creating.  I love Neon is the New Black, which I'm sure I'll knit once I get out of my oversized knit phase.  It's a great classic sweater shape but with a super long, ribbed sleeve detail that I adore.  It makes me think of a sweater I had in the nineties that got ruined at the dry cleaners.  Check out akforty7's striped version on the pattern page- so very cool.  Angler and Wings, on the other hand have plenty of positive ease and would totally work for me year-round.

More posts on this tank: as part of a KAL and the back of the tank.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Recovered Introvert

Sometime in my early twenties I realized I was an introvert.  The fact that many of my social outings up to that point had felt a burdensome thing that I had to power through so that I could somehow, one day, achieve the enjoyment everyone else seemed to have when out with friends, began to make sense.

I used to think it was because I was shy, and I was as a young woman, or because I was defective in some way.  Maybe, I thought, I'm missing out on many great memories because I'm just not able to feel what other people feel.  Or maybe it's just because I'm meant to be a crazy cat lady.

But, I worked hard on my shyness, for my daughter's sake, and even after I knew a sense of interest in others had finally replaced my social misgivings, I still needed a  long knitting session after every party.

So, I quit forcing myself to go out so much and began to relish my aloneness.  I had jobs or performed different roles and got along really well with everyone around me, but make no mistake: I could totally do the "Castaway" thing... were I not to feel too smothered by Wilson.

I say this because Teresa Gregorio's most recent Canary Knits Podcast episode got me thinking.  She was discussing thoughts about introverts and tips for how they could better navigate typical social situations.

She noted her discomfort at certain, large social gatherings, but how some people seem more adept than others at drawing people out, or rather, into conversation.  These people seem to bridge the awkwardness to connect with introverts, even.

This led me to a few articles online.  They were nothing too deep or mind-blowing, just results of a cursory search on the topic; however, I learned a few things I didn't know.  I had heard the saying that introverts recharge alone, whereas extroverts recharge from interaction with others, which I am a testament to.  But, it seems introverts can do this because the front of their brain is the more active part.  It is activated through activities like problem solving and introspection, things that are typically done alone or in a one on one conversation.  These are the things that come naturally to them. Extroverts access the back parts of their brains more, which are used to process sensory information.  Therefore, they are more "on" when stimulated by activity, or as I would call it, chaos.

Another site, said that the introvert has an especially sensitive amygdala.  It doesn't blunt sensory info and therefore can overload us.  This is why I need a little planning and emotional prep before big events.  It is also why my daughter's impending, and rather large, wedding has me nervous.  I'm not just responsible for planning, and I'm not just watching her grow up, I am going to have to be "on" for a few whole days for LOTS of people.  It is the last of those that makes my stomach churn.  And these are people I love :(

I usually try to balance the effect of gatherings with a small amount of alone time.  So, I may be at my grandparents' and family's disposal Monday through Thursday, and at my son's events on Saturday, but Friday and Sunday can be recharge days.  If only recharge days weren't also laundry, meal prep, church, and workout days.

Even when in a gaggle of people, I find there are ways to calm the crazies.  I can focus on one person or a small group, creating a little cocoon within the larger gathering.  This "cocoon" can be peopled by an ever-changing cast of characters, as long as there is some amount of focused conversation or shared information.  Basically, they are my human shields.  I find this easiest to do by just asking people about themselves.  Most people love to be asked, and some are even a little surprised because that doesn't happen to them very often.  It doesn't usually take long to find something we can discuss or think about together.  Does this make me an outgoing introvert?  I'm thinking so.

At this point, I probably sound very anal and picky about how I behave around people.  But, honestly, this is all automatic with me.  I have never thought this through or put it into words until now.  I just notice that I weather large groups best when I can mingle and touch base with individuals here and there.  This may be why one article said introverts don't even bother with small talk. It's true.  I don't like to glaze the surface or chit chat when some small amount of bonding or enlightenment could take place.  I mean, who would?  Oh, yeah, those silly extroverts.  In a way, it's because I honor people that I don't want to waste time on talk no one really cares too much about.  I'd rather get to know them.

Teresa mentioned how uncomfortable a social event could be until someone who was able to engage her got a conversation going.  She found that skill remarkable.  I heartily agree.  It sounds like the definition of charisma to me, but I'm wondering if it is a trait that might belong more to the introvert than the extrovert?  Perhaps this lady was an introvert who knew her strengths and enjoyed connecting with people on a more manageable level, so she found the topic that would draw them out.

Personally, I'm drawn to other introverts.  We get to "the good stuff" in a conversation more quickly, and often have similar (if solitary) interests.  I think this is what I love about Teresa's podcast.  There is a lot of thought-provoking content.  Yes, there is still knitting talk, but I'm always left with some thought to mentally chew on for a few days.

I think this ability to think with focus about a subject is what the world needs from us introverts.  We are excellent sounding boards.  My husband used to joke that if a stranger talked to me for 10 minutes, they'd be crying, in catharsis, by the end of it.  But, I am a good listener, there's no doubt about it, and these little one-on-one moments have the same feel as introspection.  They are actually something I crave.

Now, I'm no expert at connecting with people in a large group, like the woman mentioned in the podcast; but I think my Christian faith propels me to continue trying.  I don't think every meeting is chance.  I believe every meeting, no matter how brief, should be an opportunity to show God's love in some way to other people, to draw them to Him.  Now, I said it "should" be, of course not every interaction in my life actually is this meaningful or pleasant.  I can tune the world out like everyone else.  Also, when I speak of showing God's love,  I don't necessarily mean having a theological discussion.  It could just be showing simple interest in another human being.  Or smiling in passing.  This is the goal, anyway.  And as an introvert, I feel I'm in a unique position to do this.  I not only can sympathize with the person who feels out of place at a gathering, but I might be better able to focus on details or individuals, rather than be swept up in the excitement.

This is why I find myself scanning the youth room on Sunday morning to see who is sitting alone and looking uncomfortable.  Sometimes I don't just come across like Jesse's weird mom.  Sometimes I actually make a nice, little difference to their day.  I also notice the other youth teachers who do this.  They don't know I know who they are, but I do, and I like them a little extra for it.

So, yeah, I've become pretty comfortable with how I was made.  I see no need to recover from my introvertedness, but instead have rediscovered it.  My current challenge is to carve out the time necessary for recharging so I can be at my best in these social situations.  This is why if I were to give tips to another introvert on how to handle the awkwardness that is a group gathering (something Teresa asked for), I'd probably say to just smile like a doofus at everyone and ask them lots of questions about themselves, then go home and knit like the wind.  You'll at least seem kind and might even make a neat connection.

Did you like all of my crazy cat and dog lady photos?  I thought it was fitting for a post about introversion.