Thursday, January 28, 2016

Go! and So She Did

This is it!  The last of my projects from 2015 to post about.  Thanks to my sweet girl for contributing these photos she and her husband took on a recent camping trip.  This hat was one of her Christmas gifts from me and it looks as though she already has a request from one of her friends for me to knit another.  It's called Go!  and so that's what she did.



This was part of my billions o hats project.  Not really, but it does seem as though I've knit a lot of hats in the last few months.  For this one, I chose Knit Picks Capra yarn, a soft merino/ cashmere blend.  Knit using size US3 and 4 needles, it knit up super quick and needed no modifications.


This was an extra special knit for me because it's my first knit from the patterns I won in Andrea Mowry's instagram giveaway celebrating one year of designs.  (Click on the link for serious cuteness.)  Her one year of designs is pretty huge, guys.  It's like what most knitters knit in a year, not really the amount of work you expect from a designer.  I don't know how she does it, but I'm so glad she does because I have several queued up already: Vintage Prim, Briochealicious, Marley,  and some Modern Mukluks.


Andrea has stepped out into sweater design now too with White Pine.  Of course I wanna knit it, but, Guys!  I am about to be up to my neck in KAL sweaters.

One thing I've learned from knitting my own Prim hat, by Andrea, is that these hats look a bit too fitted until blocking.  You can see, in the link, that my Prim hat isn't quite slouchy enough in these pre-blocking photos.  After blocking, it is absolutely perfect.  The same was true of Go!  It has just the right amount of slouch.

She cracked me up when she said she found herself saying the kinds of things I say when I set up a shot and then hand the camera to someone else.  "No, keep it level."  "Don't move it!" "Just stand where I am and hold it still."

(modeled photos by Julia Carter on her instagram, my ravelry, kollabora, flickr, and my instagram)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Favorite York Bobble Toque

This is my second, and favorite, York Bobble Toque to have knit.  I used a lovely indigo-blue single ply wool from Tara-Lynn of Good Night, Day.  This deep blue color is just my favorite shade of blue right now.  I find myself wanting to knit dark blue sweaters, dark blue shawls, and wear my lapis lazuli necklace over and over.




I've knit this one before so it was old hat (heh!) with size US 1 needles for the ribbing and US 3's for the rest.  Not much else to say about it.  It's perfect from the yarn to pattern to finished object.  I love it when a knit is this easy.



You guys!!! the new X-Files is tomorrow! Sorry, my sci-fi Tourette's kicked in.

I thanked my daughter for throwing this on for me to get some pics, while she was modeling her Kingston sweater, but this hat is mine, Dear ... all mine.  The phone photo, up top, is closer to the real color of the hat.  I'm not sure why my camera wasn't picking it up accurately, but whatever, it's been a month since I finished this hat. I just wanted to post about it.  Now, I only have one 2015 knit left to post to my page.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Kingston Sweater

The Kingston Sweater is another test knit from 2015.  I can't recommend this pattern enough if you want a chill weekend sweater project.  I loved knitting it.  I will absolutely be making another with longer sleeves and solid yarn soon.



I had time to order yarn for this test knit, but when I received it, it wasn't as bulky as I'd hoped.  I'd already planned to hold it double, but that still didn't make a dense enough fabric.  To fix this I added 5 stitches to both front and back and 2 stitches to each arm.  I don't like mucking with the numbers of a test knit, but I'd already made a cardigan version of this, so I knew the y would work out as written.   I was also trying to crank these knits out for the designer and didn't want to wait on another yarn order.

That is my one regret about three of my test knits- I wasn't pleased with my yarn choice.  I feel like they deserved better yarn than I had on hand.  Oh well, that gives me something to look forward to making in the future.


The details:  I used size US 10 needles for the ribbed neckline and moved to size US 15's for the body.  The pattern is very adaptable, allowing for more or less raglan increases depending on your size, so I did a few extra to compensate for the thinner yarn.

About this Sylvan yarn- I thought this was a softly variegated yarn when I purchased it, but it is a bit more striking in person.  It also stripes.  After swatching with two strands held together, at different points in the color changes, I felt that I couldn't get an even variegated look.  So, I held my strands together at the same points in the color pattern and let the sweater be striped.  This required shorter sleeves as all of the skeins were different.  It's not what I intended but I don't think it looks bad.  Will I buy this yarn again?  No.  It's not my favorite look for thick and thin yarn, but it did have a good texture.  If they made it in a solid color, I would've stockpiled it.



This is on the smaller side, so I gave it to my daughter, who wore it for these photos.  It's wonderfully soft and very comfortable.  You can find this pattern and more in Tara-Lynn Morrison's Good Night, Day knitting pattern book.  Though I've knit everything in it, I've ordered some super bulky yarn to knit myself a Kingston.  I have a couple of really nice recycled skeins for my own Innisfil Tank.   In the stash, there's a skein ready for another Omemee Toque, two contrasting colors for another color-blocked Jarvis Fisherman Toque, and a second Leeds Halter Top already in the works.  You can see I'll be going back to this pattern book again and again.


My perfect winter weekend, whenever it happens, will look like this:

I'll wake up, wrap up in some of my many hats/cowls/sweaters/etc. to walk my dog.  That's my big chance to use my knits.  Then I'll brew some coffee, eat banana pancakes, and sit on my spot at the end of the couch to work on a Kingston Sweater while reading some really good fantasy book.  (At the moment, it's Warbreaker.)  Now, to make that happen....

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

What's your perfect weekend look like, knitting-wise?



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Outings and Nostalgia

I've been kind of cloistered away the last few years.  There were various crisis happening, and setting aside time to get out or relax was difficult.  I'm also at that awkward time where my children are growing or grown and have other things to do besides family vacations.  (Like getting married...) Even so, I did make time for a camping trip and some fun day trips that were the kind of thing I couldn't easily do when the kids were young.  It helps to soothe the melancholy "empty nest" feelings I've been having.  My nest isn't actually empty but having a teenage boy at home can feel a lot like not having a teenage boy at home, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, due to the aforementioned strange years,  I've neglected to post about these fun trips and many other things I saw, did, or felt.  I'd like to write about them in the next few months because this blog is really the only scrapbook I actually open anymore and I want to remember some good things.  In other words, be prepared for stale images.


I guess it's safe to post about seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens now, huh?  Seeing that and going to a New Order concert in the same week took me squarely back to my childhood.  I vacillated between feeling 10 and feeling 15 that whole week.

 My daughter thinks it's cool that I've seen every Star Wars movie in the theatre.  My first Star wars movie, Episode 4, was when I was maybe 4 at a drive-in with my family.  I remember laughing as C3P0 and R2D2 crossed the corridor of Princess Leia's cruiser with bullets flying all around them, but never hitting.  Then I promptly fell asleep.  There were no quick releases to home DVD then.  All we had were kids' read-along book and record combos.  (I still have my read-along book.  It's the one Anthony Daniels signed at comic con a few years ago.)  Unless you were one of the few families with a laser disc or beta max player and a very expensive copy of the movie, you had to wait an eternity for Star Wars to come out for home viewing.  My brother bought me a VHS set of the original trilogy for Christmas/ birthday one year when I was around 18.  I was beyond thrilled.  I have watched those three VHS cassettes until they were a warped ruin (well, not the Ewok saga so much).


I don't really have anything to say about episodes 1-3, except that my husband and I saw them all when they came out and we don't own any of them.

So, for my husband's birthday, we all went on opening night to see the show and had much fun watching this new release in a packed cinema.  I love it when audience members cheer as their favorites take the screen and laugh at every joke, corny or not.  It completely amplifies the experience.  I was happy to be there, even if the movie had just been meh.  But it had the same earnest feel as the originals.  I appreciate a storyline and cast that's not too vast, since recent movies seem to be trying to outdo each other with how many storylines they can carry, simultaneously.

It's not that I want simple, I just don't want cluttered for the sake of more.  Of course I wish I'd have seen more of the original stars in this film, and more of them interacting to bridge the years for us.  But, after episdoes 1-3, I'm just glad it wasn't a Fraggle Rock reunion.  Is it a spoiler to say there were no animated, alien boy bands in a space port saloon?

Two nights later we drove into Houston to see New Order play their first show in The U. S. since the 90's...maybe?  I remember them coming to Texas in 1990.  I was a sophomore and wanted to see the band play, rather than go to prom with my boyfriend.  I couldn't imagine myself in a prom dress, so this was the answer.  He said we'd do it, but of course, we didn't have cars or willing parents/ older friends, so we did neither.

That was amended last Saturday night at the Day For Night Festival in Houston.  My husband and I got there in time to check out some of the other bands.  This was a widely varied group, so we just picked a stage and ate Indian food from a truck on the ground while we waited.  I just realized my husband has been with me for most of the concerts I've been to in my life - we've been married since I was 20.

I like outdoor concerts best.  Except Pink Floyd, when it rained and people mobbed the exits.  That was nuts.  For this one, we had the brilliant Houston skyline behind us and a very retro feeling light show in front of us when New Order took the stage.   Have I said that I love New Order yet?  I love New Order.  These songs are soundtracks to many memories and moods.  Anytime I work on a project I hear Thieves Like Us and channel Molly Ringwald, making her prom dress, in Pretty in Pink.  It was also our alarm song on our cd/clock for many, many years.  I had to change it from Ceremony because I could never go back to sleep after hearing the first few seconds of that one.   I'd just lay there, wide awake and melancholy with nostalgia.

(more on instagram)

That one and a Bizarre Love Triangle mix that I could swear emphasized that beautiful bassline more than the radio single, were big favorites.  There was driving around listening to Regret.  And, more recently, I hear Your Silent Face a lot on the Pandora Radiohead station.  (A glass of red wine and the Radiohead station are the perfect combo for chill cooking.)

                                     
A video posted by Michelle Carter (@michellecarte) on


Check out the light show.  It fit the whole Day for Night theme, I guess, but it so made me think of going to Pink Floyd laser light shows when I was young.


  

I hadn't heard any songs from their new album, but we enjoyed all of them and the odd films playing behind the band as they played.  The played Joy Division songs like Atmosphere and  Love Will Tear Us Apart, in tribute to Ian Curtis, and all of our New Order faves like Blue Monday and Bizarre Love Triangle.  At one point, I looked around me and almost everyone near me was about my age, filled with nostalgia too.

Bernard Sumner said this one, Temptation, is one of his favorite songs from any band.  It's mine, too. By the way, these links are mostly for me to re-live the concert whenever I feels like, but if you want a jolt of 90's nostalgia click away.  And if you want to know the best links of all, it's definitely your Silent Face and Temptation.



A video posted by Michelle Carter (@michellecarte) on


Monday, January 18, 2016

Nice Things Shouldn't Get Worn to Bits By Your Feet

For a few months I've been thinking about taking part in a yarn club.  I see the surprise packages instagram friends and various podcasters receive and think how much fun it would be to get that sort of mail.  So, when Ashley, of Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn, asked if I'd be interested in participating in their first yarn club installment, I said yes.  Actually I said, "YES!!!!"


I have worked with yarn from RSBSY twice- for my Prim hat and Elder Tree Shawl.  By the time I began my Elder Tree, I knew this was one of my favorite indie-dyed yarns.  They have a gorgeous assortment of color ways in both semi-solid and variegated, both  equally appealing to me.  Usually, It feels like fate that they began a yarn club just as I was considering joining one.

This winter club theme is inspired by Alice in Wonderland.  Take a look at January's yarn.  It's called Muchier Muchness, based on The Mad Hatter.  It came in the mail a few days after I'd decided I need to work with more red/browns and orange.  Seriously, is that coincidence or fate?


I decided it was about time for me to join a yarn club for a couple of reasons.  First, I'm knitting 1 and 2 skein projects more, like shawls (which this will become) and socks.  I also have been shopping for indie-dyed yarn more and find that club prices are an affordable way to indulge.  (RSBSY's club price is in Canadian dollars, which makes it a very good price for 3 skeins and shipping in USD.) Beyond that, I like surprises: not knowing what project I will make beforehand, then unwrapping a package to find a color I couldn't have predicted.  I've already decided I will be buying a membership in the Spring Yarn Club too.

I was all set to use whatever skein I received this month for socks, since knitting them is one of my goals this year.  But, when I saw this colorway, I just couldn't do it.  There's something very practical in me that says nice things shouldn't get worn to bits by your feet.   I realize this is nutty since I have a little stockpile of beautiful sock yarn bought for the purpose of socks, but I reason that if it's self-striping or Patons brand it should be socks and the rest... well, I'll decide when I get to it.  So, this skein will be knit into Michelle Krause's Simple Spring Shawl design.  Only my version is very much a Fall-looking accessory.

 (image via Pinterest)

I can't wait to see February's colorway, based on the Red Queen.  Just looking at the photo of Helena Bonham-Carter's character makes me think 1) It will be a perfect colorway for Valentine's and 2) I need to re-watch A Room with a View.

Have any of you guys ever joined a yarn club or any monthly club, for that matter?

P.S. Red Sock Blue Sock did have a crazy good 50% off sale going on all of their old bases.  I totally birthday week-treated myself on some.  I'm not sure what's left, but it's worth checking out.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Finally, Finally, Finally...

I'm finally, finally getting to dig into Jane Richmond's Clarke Pullover.  I can't believe I've waited this long!  Was there ever a sweater that was more me than this?  If you don't know, the answer is no.  Striped, oversized, and comfy- perfect.  At least that's how it should be.


I was being a responsible knitter, finishing things I'd already begun and getting those test knits in.  I actually re-watched The 100, thinking I'd be casting this on, but finished the show without having knit a stitch on it.

So, I've kept this on me when I go places, sit in restaurants, take tickets at my son's soccer tournament- basically, anytime I can get in a few stitches.  By the last day of the tournament, I had the progress shown above.  Now let me be honest.  I totally screwed up somewhere in my increases and underarm cast-ons.  That's why I was freaking out that it looked so small when my gauge was right on.  It felt like a fitted something something in my hands, not the oversized top it should've been.  But once I get in the knitting zone, there's no stopping me.


People I was down to the split hem and had something like a size 34" on my needles instead of the 40"- ish version I wanted.  I would try it on and think, "Man, this is fitted."  That's because it had about 1.5" of negative ease instead of the 4" of positive ease I wanted.

Thank goodness I came to my senses and quit mindlessly knitting long enough to count my stitches.  I was missing like 32 stitches.  Did I call myself a responsible knitter, earlier?

Anyway, I watched an old X-Files episode (in anticipation of the new series coming out in a few days) and ripped all the way back to the raglan increases, then finished them correctly.  Now, my sweater feels like a comfy, oversized sweater in my hands as I work.  So typical.


Let me pause here to ask if you're excited for this new X-Files series as much as I am.  This is another finally, finally finally... I loved that show so much as a teenager/ young adult, up until Mulder was worked out of the storyline.  I hung with it through the introduction of Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish.  They weren't bad actors at all, but the plot had gotten so confused and off track. I still can't remember where the whole alien cover-up conspiracy thing was when the show ended.  Good thing I found this episode guide and am re-watching the ones that focused on the Greys.  I'm still just beginning season 4, but I'm loving remembering my first reaction to these way back when.  I really hope Chris Carter will forget some of the goofy things they did in the last X-Files movie and pick up as if the series never got too bogged down with self-indulgent twists and turns.   Ah, and isn't Gillian Anderson still so beautiful?

Back to Clarke:  I really needed this knit to work as I don't have a lot of sweaters that fit right now.  I'm focusing on oversized knits that give me an adaptable wardrobe as my body goes through all sorts of weird changes.  Some days I feel like Bruce Banner trying to make sense of what the Gamma Ray (hormone therapy, in my case) has done to him and why can't he remember anything?   It's almost comical.
Other days I feel like the Hulk trying to find something else to wear in Bruce's closet besides the purple clam diggers.

My one comfort is that this knits up fast, so I should be able to finish it in a week or so, if I focus.  And knowing my propensity for robotic knitting as I stare into space, it will probably be that quick.


I like this green color combo in Wool of the Andes Sport yarn.  I have nothing in either of these greens in my wardrobe, so it feels like an extra useful knit.

Oh, and here's another soccer mom photo because I guess I'm one of those.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Innisfil Tank

This is the Innisfil Cropped Tank from the recently self-published Good Night, Day knitting book.  Remember how I've knit a bunch of these patterns?  Well, this was one I knit for my daughter but hadn't had a chance to photograph on her until yesterday.  We grabbed lunch at a local cafe and found some shade by an old garage to create some evidence of what I'm doing in 2015.  The fact that it's now 2016 doesn't bother me a bit.


I love this tank in thick and thin cotton yarn.  It has an Earthy ease about it.  I think it would look beautiful knit in Araucania Liwen, like this sweater I knit.  But Liwen is discontinued.  Even more wearable for me would be one knit in Asian Trends' Lecco, like my Belleville Shawl.  Again- discontinued or out of stock everywhere.  I'm wondering why there are fewer thick and thin options.



The most beautiful cotton yarn I've found for this knit is from Be Sweet , but it's a little pricey for 3 skein's worth.  So, I'll probably throw in some Tahki Rosa next time I place an order with Webs instead.  Rosa is an okay substitute, it just doesn't have the same twisted/ plied look of subtle art yarn.  But I could certainly use it to make warm weather versions of a couple more of Tara-Lynn's patterns.  Then it won't matter that I didn't get my own version before winter, because it will be wearable year-round.


Details:  I wanted to test this one quickly, so I went with some bulky Cascade Eco and the last bit of my Sweet Georgia bulky (also discontinued) on size US10 needles.



Since I was using a lighter weight yarn, with less visual interest, I decided to throw in a roughly sketched Fair Isle pattern.  It is very rough , friends, I know.  And it doesn't show too clearly when worn, and because of the tonal yarn, but it was fun to try something new like that.  I could totally see making another with more ease and a better colorwork motif later.   So, it's not at all perfection, but think of it as inspiration.


Besides the colorwork, I made no modifications to this design.  I knew the top would come out more fitted and with a thinner shoulder strap, though, because my yarn was less bulky than the pattern calls for.   I thought it would be fine for my daughter, who likes my knits and looks great in more fitted clothing.  And I think it looks cute on her.  For mine, I would definitely want more ease and coverage.  I'd also prefer a cotton version, in thick and thin yarn, over the Fair Isle.


Have you guys ever tried adding a little Fair Isle to your knits before?  Did you wing it (like me), use graph paper, or do something high-tech on the computer that would make my brain zone out if you told me about it?  I'm interested.  If you have, please link to your Rav page, blog, or whatever so we can see.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Favorite Graynbow

I did not expect so much feedback about socks!  You guys gave me so many good ideas and  resources.  I am more psyched than ever about this New Year's goal.  As Barb said, that is the power of socks.



So here they are: My Favorite Graynbow Socks, knit for the Christmas Eve Cast On with sweet Dani of Little Bobbins Knits.  They're also my first completed project of 2016.

This is my third pair of socks to knit, but my first to knit mindfully.  I took Lara's, of The Fawn Knits Podcast, advice and used the Voolenvine Favorite Sock pattern as a good starting point for beginners.
It is a good, straight forward cuff-down sock pattern.  Very classic.



The details: I tried casting on larger, but 56 stitches definitely worked better for me.  I knit loosely and I have narrow feet, but knitting with size US1 needles at 7.5 to 8 stitches per inch seemed to fit well.  From gusset to toe decreases, I knit 3 7/8".

Now, I 've been warned (like in the comments of my last post. Thanks, Heather) I should have negative ease.  I'm not certain that I achieved that.  There's that little bunch of fabric in front of my ankle; however, that might be because I'm leaning forward and doing gymnastics to get a photo of my own legs.  I'm also not sure if super wash socks, knit at such a tiny gauge will grow on me like some super wash sweaters have.  I suppose the true test will be the first washing and blocking.  I finally ordered some sock blockers for the occasion.



I almost kept my striping even for both socks but I think switching back to English style on the second sock, and somehow finally getting my hands to knit the gauge tightly without strain, gave me a slightly smaller sock.  It's only the toe that is different, so I'm really pleased.

I knit these with a longer leg because I enjoyed watching the colors stripe so much, but I think I prefer socks either lower or much higher.   For knee socks, I think I'd have to do toe-up socks, though.  My Tennessee Hiking Socks were knit that way so I could feel confident I wouldn't run out of yarn.

Gynx Strong Sock is as lovely to work with as Laura's other yarn bases.  I am hopeful it will stand up to much wear.


Next time:  I want to use a 2x2 rib for the cuff.  I may move to a size 0 needle (yuck) if these grow after washing because I cannot knit any tighter than this and I want a good, solid fabric.  Also, I noticed the toe of some of my winter socks wears thin.  So I would like to try reinforcing both heels and toes with thread or yarn.  I saw an idea I liked from VeryPink Knits, using sock thread.  This wouldn't make things too cramped in my shoes and would certainly add to my sock longevity.  But, I'm not sure I'll get around to buying said thread before I'm ready to cast on my next pair.  If nothing else, I could substitute a very sturdy workhorse yarn for contrast toes and heels when using a somewhat delicate sock yarn.  I really like that look anyway.


I think I'll follow Katie's lead, also from my last post, and try a pair of toe-up, two at a time socks,  just to get another pair out there quickly.  I might make them longer to take advantage of the whole toe-up thing.

My favorites list, which is what I plan my upcoming knits from, grew big time after all of your thoughtful comments on that last post.  Between those and suggestions I've seen in the Little Bobbins Christmas Eve Socks thread, I could knit socks for years without stopping to take a breath.   Of course, I'm a sweater knitter at heart, so I won't be doing that.  I will be using them to fill in between larger projects and for something handy to have in my bag.


These photos are unrealistic.  It grosses me out to walk outside in my socks.  But I follow the light...