Tuesday, June 6, 2017

While Waiting for a Ball

I finally tried a Wool and the Gang pattern!  I love the Tommy Top, but I needed a little more yarn to finish.  I think I knit it at a tighter gauge than instructed, maybe that's why I ran low.  I could've ripped back and blah, blah, blah, but nah.  Besides I want it to be kind of long in back.

Don't you love marled cotton?  This could've been a weekend knitting project, had I not run short.  But I did, so while waiting on that one ball, I finished a shawl project and vegged out in front of a couple of seasons of Homeland, while it rained for a week.  Basically, I watched enough to be really, really sad at the end of season 3.

The one bright spot was finishing up my Orri Shawl, by Lee Meredith.  This is a great project for variegated wool.  I loved every second of the knitting.  I didn't weave in the ends because... vegging, remember?  Pictures will come later.

Next, I picked up my Gingerbread Sweater, by Libby Jonson.  I did have to give it some focus to finish knitting the neckline, but once I joined beneath the armholes, it was/is smooth, stockinette sailing for 12 inches.

This yarn is only about 10% cashmere, but it's super fuzzy and warm.  I like the fit I'm getting, but I'm still not confident about whether this yarn will bloom and grow.  Now, I've done it.  I can't say that phrase I hear "Edelweiss" in my head... for the rest of the day.  Sigh.

I have to get the fit right on this one.  I can't abandon it to a project bag for years the way I did with my Pomme De Pin.  It is the exact classic, wide-neck sweater style I want in a comfy yarn.  So, if it's too big I'll either stuff my bra or re-knit it.  One is preferable to the other.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Let me start by saying these photos are kind of the pits.  Ocean spray, as in the ferry- not the juice, got on my lens and it wouldn't cooperate the rest of the day.

Waterrock, by Jennifer Kelley of Appalachian Knits, is the perfect summer project.  It's quick to knit, has a hi/low hem, and has a ribbed textured that reminds me of pinstriped menswear-inspired clothes.  Think Annie Hall.

I made the mistake of playing yarn chicken with a discontinued Rowan Denim to make mine.  So I wasn't able to make the armholes as big as I would've liked.  I followed the pattern exactly and got the more fitted look.  This means I won't be wearing any short sleeved menswear-style shirts underneath it, unless I lose weight, and I don't want to knit for that.  It is quite comfortable with only a tank underneath, though.  The ribbing in this denim looks more fitted than it feels.  It had plenty of room to stretch, width-wise.

Jennifer's second Waterrock was knit in Cotlin and has a nice drape to it.  I'd like to make another out of that yarn.  Besides being a bit lighter, with the linen, it probably won't bleed like I'm sure this denim will.

Along with the Kinton tee, I worked this project for three- yes, three- concurrent knit-alongs.

1) Appalachian Knits' Spring KAL (also on instagram) -  where you can find lots of beautiful sweaters and shawl inspiration.

2) Very Shannon's Tops, Tanks, and Tees, KAL (on instagram) -  You know the one.  It has so many finished tops each year.  And this year, there are two Waterrock.  (I just have to say here that my autocorrect is having a field day with that pattern name.  Keep that in mind if you read something offensive. Geez.)

3) Handmade and Woolen's Natural Wardrobe Make-along (on instagram) - which has inspired me to try sewing next and has been a wealth of information on sourcing natural fibers and material.

Details:  I used size US 3 needles and the older version of Rowan denim to knit a size 35" (the second size).  It was an easy pattern to follow and went really quickly.  The whole thing was knit in under two weeks.

I liked the Rowan denim, but I wish I'd used the newer version of this yarn.  The darker denim is nicer, to me.

One thing to note on this pattern is that the arm and neckline edging does bring things in quite a bit.  For me the arms went from fitting surprisingly loose to being fitted.  They're not uncomfortable, just not the loose fit I'm used to.  So, keep that in mind.

Wait, one more thing: thanks to my sweet photographer, who didn't even need her arm twisted, for giving me a fun mother/daughter day.

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kinton Tee

My daughter and I took a little day trip to Galveston as, sort of, an in-case-you-move-soon thing.  I didn't want the summer to get away from us and miss an opportunity for some quality time.  Of course, I also pressured her to take photos of my finished knits for the Tops Tanks and Tees Knit-along and the Natural Wardrobe Make-along.

This one is Kinton, designed by my friend Jennifer Kelley for the Appalachian Knits collection that she has created with Christina Danaee.  Knit in cotton and linen, it is perfect for summer.

Also, sea spray hit my lens on the ferry and it didn't behave the rest of the trip.  So I got what I got and I'm just trying to make it work.  The second photo is the best one I have for showing the lace section once it's blocked.

Appalachian Knits produces patterns from two designers living in Appalachia that showcase dyers and yarn companies also from that area.  There is a story behind each of the yarns they use.  I find these yarns very inspiring and something I want to eventually try.   So far I want to make everything in their collection, but I already have yarn ready to go for Old Rag and Allegheny, so they probably need to happen first.  Were I to knit another sweater from the collection soon, it would be Roan- so many cables!

Linton was well written and the lace chart did get instinctive after a while.  You may remember that I had trouble getting gauge and had to start one of them over again, but that was all me.

Details on Kinton:  I used size US 2.5 needles and 6 skeins of Lindy Chain to make this.  I knit the 38" (second size) which gave me about 3" of positive ease.  I added a bit more length to mine than directed.

My thoughts on Lindy Chain, now that I've used it twice, are that it makes a nice, lightweight fabric but it could get splitty when knitting the lace.  Most of the trouble I had was when I first began knitting this and was knitting at too tight a gauge.  When I ripped it back and re-knit more loosely, it did become easier to knit without all of the splitting of the fiber.

This yarn also fits the criteria for a natural wardrobe item, being a combo of all natural fibers.

My only modification was to pick up about 12 stitches less for the garter neckline.  Most of those stitches were omitted from the front of the top.  As you can see, I still have a nice wide neckline this way, but there's no rolling outward.  Before, it rolled and was a little loose and floppy in front and back.  I'm surprised by how much of a difference just a few less stitches could make.

When I was struggling with the loose neckline, I almost decided to do an I-cord bind off, but I'm so glad I didn't.  Reducing the picked up stitches allowed me to give the neckline the same garter stitch treatment as the bottom edge and sleeves.  I also like the way it looks better for this top.

What I love about this top is obviously the lace panel down the back.  Beautiful and delicate.  I also like the hi/low hem.  It's a cute added detail.  

The thing I appreciate the most though is the weight of it!  You can't get any lighter than fingering weight linen/cotton.  I can really wear this one all summer.  Most of my summer knits only work for a short time and when I know I'll be in serious air condition.  But this one stands up to the Texas heat as much as any article of clothing, other than a swimsuit, can.

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

So have you seen any of the other finished projects in the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL?  I'll miss the chatter, but only for a short time because the Summer Sweater KAL will be starting soon.  Be on the lookout for it. 

I'm also really pleased to have done something toward my natural wartime goals with the Natural Wardrobe Make-along.  My main goal is to bust out that sewing machine and make some easy fitting summer tops and skirts.  I have been abstaining from buying things I no longer feel good about at the mall or Target, but I'm gonna need some things soon.  Today is the last day of school and all of the ceremonies have been attended, so I think I'll have plenty of time to tackle that in the coming weeks.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lace and Variegated

I have several one or two skein sets of variegated yarn that I'm not quite sure how to use.  I know I can always do socks, but I am pretty much done with socks for a while.  When it comes to heavily patterned things, like shawls, I don't often like how a lace or garter distort the colorway.  And right now everything seems to be about lace and garter.

Then I saw Lee Meredith's Orri Shawl.  This was a lace and garter pattern I could use my precious variegated skeins on, without my eyes involuntarily crossing as I worked.   The lace is a fairly simple stitch pattern that doesn't look too crazy in multi-colors and it has a solid colored garter section to further tone it down.  Balance, my friends.  So, I dug up my skeins of fischer dk from  Lovebird Lane Yarns, in the One Sweet Love colorway, and got busy.

I considered using another semi-variegated grey, Gynx Yarn's Texas Tornado, as the contrasting color, but it was too variegated and had yellow undertones that didn't look right when paired with the cool pinks of my main color.   Even if it had looked nice together, it  would defeat the purpose of subduing the variegated colorway with a solid.

In the end, I just ordered some inexpensive Patons Classic Wool, in Dark Grey Heather, during a Joann sale.  I think they look nice together.

Orri has a fun lace pattern that balances interest and need for focus.  I worked on it a bit at the movies, but Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was good enough that I ended up setting it down.  I do think I could have made a dent in it without mistakes, though.  It also knits up fast.  I will soon be finished with the largest portion knit in the pink even though I'm only working on it occasionally.

Variegated colorways like this always seemed so out of my league when I first started knitting.  All of those terms like, well, variegated and semi-solid and Tosh and Malabrigo, floated around Ravelry and were Greek to me.  I knew only Patons and Lion Brand Wool-Ease at the time.  So, I'm excited to have some of these mighty colorful yarns in my stash.  I'm just not quite sure what I'd like to use them for.  Again, no socks right now.

One of my only garments to knit in variegated yarn was Ease, which was a true variegated.  Then there was Reindeer, which is in variegated malabrigo but more subdued.  Both of these worked because the designs were a clean, simple style.  I never loved the color of the Ease, though- I just got the Cascade on sale and it was the least busiest colorway.  It still feels a little too busy for me, even though the finished sweater is super comfortable and great for doing things outdoors.

So, do you guys use heavily variegated yarns for lace pieces, or garments with a lot of texture?  I'm interested.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hello, Nature

This is my written ode to the trees that keep me sane.  How I have missed you!  Come to mama.

I need to be out of doors.  Truly.  It was lesson number 1 of my back sprain quarantine.  (Other lessons included- chairs are evil, don't fling 50 pound bags of anything over and over or ever, it's easy to lose your confidence when you are isolated at home, and I can crochet while lying down.)

Yeah, a back sprain. Sounds weird, doesn't it?  It's even weirder to explain:  "Uh, I think it happened when I was flinging 50 pound bags of dirt last spring or else I was picking up my free weights incorrectly...  The sacroiliac joint got pulled out of place... then I drove a lot of people around and sat in waiting rooms and hospitals for a few months, keeping the ligaments from tightening up in the right position and so...uh... now I can't sit in certain chairs for very long because they make the joint slip out of place.  Once I get it in the right place I have to keep it there for 6 to 8 more weeks.  So, I can't drive, or sit in a church pew, or go to the movies for more than 20 minutes a day for a few months... and, uh... I really shouldn't sit too much at all, but I've got this nagging ankle injury too, so..."

I don't know many people with a real attention span, so I'd lose them at the word "flinging."  And I guess it's disinteresting, unless you're my parent.  Oh wait, my dad turned the tv up as I was trying to explain it to him. Never mind.

Point is I am a free woman again!!  Free to go where I want, within reason, and to do it without a chaperone.  I don't have to be "crazy almond butter cat woman on the couch" anymore, unless I feel like it.  I don't have to ride everywhere lying shotgun, seat cranked all the way back, and my husband driving me while I got looks.

During my rehab time, I was so happy when I got opportunities to get outside.  By outside I mean somewhere besides my backyard and walking around my city.

Our childhood woods were just a thin patch of trees between the elementary school and the cemetery.  But it was enough for me to pretend I was a Native American walking in silence, like in A Light in the Forest, or an explorer.  I played and ran through those sparse trails so many times as a girl that I still have dreams about them.  They are a housing subdivision today.

Any time I could get out in the forest with my Brownie troop or a church day camp group, I relished the ability to hide or run, screaming like a banshee, in woodland chase.  There was some tying of our youth director to a tree and some discipline for leaving my girl scout trail buddy to go further into the woods than anyone else wanted to, but you can't let a suburban child with a heart for nature loose among the trees without a bit of wildness.

All this to say that my husband drove me, as I lay back in the passenger seat, like a knitting gangsta,  to The Big Thicket for the day, as in the photos above.

Then we went camping at Village Creek as a family with our kids, my son-in-law, and his little brother for a few days (below).  There was a campfire, trails, meals in which everyone contributed, marshmallows, and canoeing.  I had time to laze about in a hammock and knit on my Journey sweater.  What more could I want?  There was also one rainy night, which I kind of love when sleeping in a canvas topped pop-up.

My children inherited the need for trails from me.  They just didn't, or don't, know it until adulthood, as evidenced on my son's face, below.

 When my daughter was three I'd take her to a park with a tiny bit of trees and I'd run the trail with her in a jogging stroller.  She'd let me as long as we played Pocahontas afterward.  We usually took this drama to the nearby playground where all the children, and their parents, heard my impersonation of Pocahontas' father.  I do a mean Chief Powhatan.   Later I'd push both of of my children in a double jogger down a larger trail system in the Pineywoods.  Then I'd unbuckle them and it would be a setting for pretend space exploration.  Because trees and creeks and trails aren't exciting enough.

As they got older.  I found that the best conversations happened on the trail, even if they didn't originally want to go.  And they never originally wanted to go.  The most hardened of teenagers will open up after an hour of hiking.  I think my memories of laughing and hearing their stories about schools and friends that they'd never told me before is my favorite thing about family vacations.  Because, my kids are funny.  I remember hearing about things that secretly scared my daughter and my son's antics under the bleachers during Friday night games.  Oh, guys, I'm so full of longing as I type this that I might burst, or weep.

No, I'll save it for when she graduates from college Friday... or when they move.

 (more on my instagram and flickr)

I have a feeling nature will be my solace when that happens.  Also, my daughter says we can visit and camp with them  a lot, so why cry?  Besides, next week is the beach.