Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Episode 22- So Many Mods, Also Blogmas Day 5

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

I'm on my blog: www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com
on instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife: https://www.instagram.com/mysocalledhandmadelife/
on Ravelry as mamatronic: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic?set=&columns=&view=thumbnail&page=&sort=status&search=
on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamatronic/albums

The #WingItKAL will begin in January. Details in this episode.

My question for you: What knit do you reach for most often from your closet? Would you consider modifying or

Stuff I mention:
Phoenix Test Knit for Libby Jonson, Libby's teaser: https://www.instagram.com/p/BrJBuEEFTrM/

A Beautiful Mess blog post on clothing design sketches: https://www.shutterstock.com/search/fashion+figure+template?kw=&gclid=Cj0KCQiArqPgBRCRARIsAPwlHoWyQBSaG5jL9OKFLYG1K9e9WL7eRZZQ5zizJlSv2hJ-WSVCMTFahZQaAscQEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
Figure Drawing for Fashion Design by E. Drudi: https://www.amazon.com/Figure-Drawing-Fashion-Design-Drudi/dp/9054960809
The Fashion Sketchpad: https://www.amazon.com/Fashion-Sketchpad-Templates-Designing-Portfolio/dp/0811877884
Freebieisland fashion templates: http://freebiesland.net/fashion-templates/
Shutterstock free sketch templates: https://www.shutterstock.com/search/fashion+figure+template?kw=&gclid=Cj0KCQiArqPgBRCRARIsAPwlHoWyQBSaG5jL9OKFLYG1K9e9WL7eRZZQ5zizJlSv2hJ-WSVCMTFahZQaAscQEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
KnitFoundry charting software: https://www.knitfoundry.com/software.html
Design a Knit for making charts and stitch help: http://softbyte1.tru-m.com/designaknit.htm?utm_campaign=DesignaKit+8&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_term=%2Bdesignaknit&utm_content=1917573xCj0KCQiArqPgBRCRARIsAPwlHoWbNyVyM6Mbuqo8yP46MPjcuuLc2q8BnAmvhC0lXy3El0flyKjaJ6EaAl-sEALw_wcB

My Current Knits:
Floozy by Libby Jonson: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/floozy-2
in a kit from YarnFloozy: https://yarnfloozy.co.nz
Michelle Socks: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/smooth-operator-socks-7
in self-striping yarn by Lovebird Lane Yarns: https://www.lovebirdlane.com
using Smooth Operator by Susan B. Anderson: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/smooth-operator-socks
Guthrie by Caitlin Hunter: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/guthrie
knit in SpinCycle Dyed in the Wool, Mississippi Marsala: https://spincycleyarns.com/collections/dyed-in-the-wool-sport-weight
and Cascade 220 sport, natural: http://www.cascadeyarns.com/cascade-Cascade220Sport.htm

My Modified sweater:
Lund or Linden sweater: http://www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com/2015/09/lund-or-linden-sweater.html
which is a modified Eased by Alicia Plummer: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/eased-bulky-version
and based on one worn in The Killing: http://www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com/2015/09/dark-show-bright-sweater.html
The Killing: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1637727/

Some knits we've modified:
Shalom Cardigan by Meghan Mcfarlane: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/shalom-cardigan
Flax by Tin Can Knits: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/custom-knits/patterns
Ingenue by Wendy Bernard: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ingenue
Slinky Ribs by Wendy Bernard: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/slinky-ribs
Mina's Tuxedo Vest by Wendy Bernard: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/minas-tuxedo-vest

Books you recommended:
Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/japanese-knitting-stitch-bible-hitomi-shida/1126513433/2678190537408?st=PLA&sid=BNB_Core+Catch-All,+Low&sourceId=PLAGoNA&dpid=tdtve346c&2sid=Google_c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAurjgBRCqARIsAD09sg_Jl75xayJyWArt4gt07mzdGQwfF72fzGrobJ7WjhIs62A11O4biAcaApPqEALw_wcB
Strangebrew by Tin Can Knits: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/strange-brew
Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard:
Coco Knits Sweater Workshop: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/cocoknits-sweater-workshop
Knitter's Handy Guide to Top Down Sweaters by Ann Budd: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/the-knitters-handy-book-of-top-down-sweaters-basic-designs-in-multiple-sizes-and-gauges
Sweater Workshop by Jaqueline Fee: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/the-sweater-workshop

Keep a look out, the My So-Called Handmade Life Ravelry Group is coming!!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Little Ways-Blogmas Day 4

I have tiny celebrations in December.  Not the biggies, like a big turkey dinner with the family on Christmas Day. I mean little things that only I know about that commemorate the change of season. They help me indulge in the coming cold and the new life that follows. It's a meditative time, always.

Though putting up the Christmas tree means enlisting help to get it out of the attic (Yes, its fake, industrial strength, and cat-proof.) it's part of a solitary winter ritual. As soon as I wake up I crack a window for the cat to enjoy the cold air. Then I brew a mug of tea and sit near her in just the twinkling light given off by the tree. I usually burn some sort of balsam candle so that it at least smells like a real tree. I think I'm practicing for the day I live in that cabin in the mountains, embraced by trees.
Something about a little draft of cold air coming into a warm house- it's just enough to keep you awake, to remind you of what you have to be thankful for. I can easily lose myself to my thoughts, finding an hour has slipped by. I need this now.

Another personal ritual is pulling out my Christmas project bags and stitch markers. This is a new thing for me, as I didn't have but a couple of bags and markers that were themed like this. Then, a sweet friend I've met online sent me some more progress keepers from Chapel View Crafts and Sucre Sucre Miniatures, so now I have one for every project. It was an early Christmas and felt like such a luxury. Each one makes me feel cared for and a little excited about the coming days.

I'll be using one for my Christmas Eve Cast On that Dani, of Little Bobbins, has encouraged me to do on Christmas Eve. I cast on her 'Twas the Night Before Christmas sock pattern as my project last year.

That feeling of warmth in the midst of cold repeats itself in the evenings when I try to walk my dogs past rows of homes lit with color. Sometimes it is actually really cold here. I don't mind. The cold does clear my head so I can review my day. And it's not like I haven't trained, with 15 years of knitting, for this. I have my StripeEd cowl wrapped twice around my neck and face and can be dragged down the street like it's the Iditarod just as easily as in the summer.

My last little ritual, that I am conscious of, is playing a certain few Christmas albums each year. At some point I have the Charlie Brown Christmas special soundtrack, Elvis' Blue Christmas, and Christmas Island in heavy rotation. And don't forget the techno wannabe Christmas Dance Party CD that I've played as I decorate the house since my kids were tiny. One year we had a tree that spun around when you flipped a switch. I know!? This cheesy music seemed the natural companion. The thing is, my family knows I play it, sort of jokingly, when we decorate the tree each year but I don't think they know I listen to it a lot by myself. It transports me to the time when my babies were babies and always just a few steps away. A time when their excitement could be mine too, and vice versa.

So, I haven't been able to get the tree down by myself yet this year, but I have the candle burning and the cat crack going. My mind is revisiting the past even if my body is quite still on the end of the couch. With what little rituals are you welcoming winter?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Not Too Pricey Guthrie- Blogmas Day 3

Since we are starting the #WingITKAL in January, I'm feeling like I should cast on all of the patterns I want to knit, as is now, though it's doubtful I will finish one by January 1. I'm still knitting my Floozy but I've discovered I need breaks from the silky, fingering weight yarn. Its slips along the needles so easily, I can't seem to keep an even tension without gripping rather tightly. I doubt anyone else in the world has this issue other than me. To avoid wrist strain, I decided to alternate Floozy sessions with something 100% wool. This very mature decision also happens to coincide with the #BlameDunderKnitalong. I've been torn between the Nightshift Shawl, Juniper, Jelly Donuts, and Meg. So of course, I'm casting on Guthrie, by Caitlin Hunter.

I wanted the look of the Spincycle Dyed in the Wool skeins for the contrast color. They have that handspun look and the perfect variance of color, but they're kind of pricey. Here's the thing, if I'd just save a bit I could go all the way and get enough for an oversized, long sleeve, full length sweater. But I haven't... so I can't. 

Instead, I'm combining only three skeins of Mississippi Marsala colorway with a less expensive solid sport weight yarn. I'm hoping it will be enough for a cropped version.

When digging through stash for a solid main color, my first thought was this Wool of the Andes Sport in Fedora. 

But then I saw Patty's Guthrie on Instagram, with a lighter solid background, and I fell in love with an inanimate object. I don't have that much sport weight yarn and nothing that would contrast the Mississippi Marsala enough, so I checked out sale stuff on Craftsy (Or is it Bluprint, now?) and found a sweater's worth of Cascade 220 Sport for about $15. It was totally worth it to me. I think they must be phasing out their Cascade stuff, because the prices are really low. 

I'm still doing a more cropped version of this top, but I've seen lots of variations where knitters knit long sleeves and just carry the colorwork motif partway down the sleeve so there'll be enough CC for the regular length body. Other's skipped a section of the chart on the body to shorten the colorwork section so there's a block of the main color toward the bottom. I guess this is to conserve their precious Spincycle yarn. Since the colorwork chart is worked in sections, there are lots of possible  combinations and placement.  

So here you see my swatch: It isn't as dense a fabric as I thought it would be. Honestly, my Dyed in the Wool seems more like fingering to me, compared to the 220 Sport. But if it wears like my Sunset Highway, also a light fabric, that's fine with me. 

(more on Ravelry, Instagram, and Flickr)

Have you tried a Caitlin Hunter colorwork knit yet? Which Ones. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Three Dog Night- Blogmas Day 2

I'm only 44, but I married and started a family young. When I used to think about a day where my children would live elsewhere, it made me a little sad. Obviously, I want them to spread their wings and all the other cliches but, so far, being a mother has been the highlight of my life. (I don't know what all these people re-living high school glory days are thinking.) Babies are where it's at.

Once in a while I'll be walking into the grocery store and remember when I'd hold their little hands to cross the parking lot. And then as they got older they'd protectively grab mine first, or each others', any time we crossed a street. It's all those little pack animal moments that I craved when I was a teenager. I think I really loved being steeped in them as a young adult.

And I totally indulged in them, which is great because I needed to tank up before they moved away. This fall, my youngest child moved to live on campus. I wasn't sure what life would be like for my husband and I. Would he play video games while I knitted and listened to podcasts every night, each in our own little world? Would we walk our dogs together like we kept saying we would once the craziness of senior year and soccer games passed? Would we get on each other's nerves?  I mean it's not like we are retirement age, but we are around each other with more undivided attention than ever before since we first married.

Last night my husband took me out to eat and to a concert. Dates used to be a super big deal when we were young because we had no babysitters and no spare cash. They didn't happen all that often. Going whenever and wherever we feel like is something new, since there's no soccer games or group likes and dislikes to consider. So we ate out at Suga's (Its gourmet southern.) before a concert. I live a bland dairy, wheat, and sugar free existence daily so that I can splurge there once in a while and not feel like crap the next day.

Anyway, we were eating on the patio and my husband asked how I thought this "new era" was going. I wan't sure. I mean, it's only been two months and my father passed away during that time, so I don't think I can analyze anything yet, but it got me thinking. I have spent zero time dreaming about older married life. I had no "empty nest" plans for myself and my husband, other than camping trips and maybe, eventually, a new pop-up camper to do it in. As I considered what my perfect couple life would look like, I realized we do a lot of it already. I like the way we spend our time. Some of it is old stuff: getting coffee once or twice a week and talking or walking our dogs in the evenings when it's cool. We still like the same tv shows and look forward to watching them together, though I haven't felt like I could take the emotion of This Is Us the last couple of months. But some of it is new, like reading some of the same books and praying together daily.

More than that, a peace has settled over our home in the last year or so. It has nothing to do with growing kids, it's just my processing the loss of my grandparents and discovering some things about myself and how I relate to other people. So, it's quiet here, but I am not afraid of that. And at some point during the day I can always crank up my turntable and shatter the silence with whatever music I feel like. Getting older isn't so bad.

Speaking of turntables, I only have a couple of Three Dog Night albums and I'd never say I was their greatest fan, but their songs that I love- I really, really love. Black and White is one of my all time favorites included on the 1000 song playlist, with the genius name, "Michelle's Songs."

Apparently, getting older has been good for them too. Danny Hutton is like 76 now but their show had such an upbeat, positive vibe you wouldn't know it. We had fun with all the other graying and silver fans. Because I love you, I've uploaded some clips of the show with poor image quality.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Bulky Easy One or Blogmas Day 1

Day 1 of Blogmas, because I don't feel like Vlogmas.

I am writing this post so far after finishing The Bulky Easy One, that it may be hard for me to dredge up the details of the knit from my mind. Here's what I do remember: It is meant to be oversized, it can be modified to use worsted weight yarn, it has sleeve seams that are visible on the right side (I always like that.) and it makes me feel like I'm back in 1990- something when I wear it with Docs, though I couldn't afford Docs back then. These seem to be the most important details anyway. So you can quit reading now and just look at all the cool graffiti at the HOPE Gallery because it changes weekly.

I went on a knitting quest in 2018 to make the perfect oversized sweater. After swinging from accidentally oversized to accidentally too tight, it has been a relief to land on intentionally oversized. It's hard to mess that up. If it's only a little oversized, it still fits fine and if it's a lot too huge- even better. You know you've got it right when you can burrow into the couch with knees bent and hidden within the sweater too. The only drawback to baggy is that it takes more yarn and more time.

By the way, this is a Joji Locatelli pattern. It's so weird that this is only my second Joji pattern to knit.  I own so much of her work but have only knit Dragonflies. I even went to a workshop she put on with Veera Valmäki. You should really knit more than one pattern from a designer you ask to pose in a photo with you.

So why choose this very basic, big sweater over all of the detailed, more complicated designs she has out? Because it was simple and big and totally nostalgic for me. I miss big oversized sweaters that I don't have to steal from my husband. Until the giant sweater obsession struck me, earlier this year, I had nothing oversized. So, my mission was to go big on several knits. And I did it with six sweater designs.

Here's how the Gigante Sweater Experiment went:

There's this Bulky Easy One - plenty big enough to work with leggings, jeans, skirts whatever.

You have seen my Birch- same but with cute Icelandic-style yoke.

 My Weekender- roomy but cropped and the sleeves aren't oversized. Actually, I'd like to add an inch, but I'll probably just stretch the heck out of them next time I wash it. This would be really cute with high waisted jeans...if I had any that fit.

The Edge and Sunset Highway- both were a normal fit, not tight but not much wiggle room.

So, four oversized sweaters in one year is pretty good. Imagine how many I could churn out if I was still knitting fitted bulky sweaters and shrugs?!

Details on this knit: This is fairly large, so I chose an inexpensive yarn I see every time I go into Joann, but have never actually bought. This Patons Classic Tweed is classic black, but the tweed flecks are rainbow hued. That doesn't work on just any sweater type, to my mind. But a large stockinette sweater seemed the perfect canvas, so I got some on sale, which wasn't hard. Joann has been waking crafters up early each weekend morning with a text about Doorbusters!! for years.

I probably knit this on US size 6 needles, but that's just a guess because I was busy working hard on it to possibly wear to Iceland (I didn't because I was only bringing black leggings and didn't feel like being the Mistress of Gloom in the Land of Ice and Fire) and so I never recorded needle info on my Ravelry page. My Ravelry says I used all 6 skeins, but I'm not really sure that's true. I do know that I can't find any remains of the last skein. I have lots of Patons Tweed leftovers that I have searched for this week, to my frustration. I'm sure they're all in the same, safe, completely hidden place. Sigh. Just order more than you think you will need if you go with worsted. That leads to my one modification.

Mods:  My modification, and it's an important one, was to knit this with worsted yarn, rather than the bulky the pattern calls for. Like many skilled knitters before me I eschewed the math and just knit the instructions for a larger size (the 3XL).  It worked.

The only trouble I had was in the seaming of the shoulders and sleeve. It's probably the simplest thing, but for some reason I had a hard time getting that homespun look of visible seams. When I was a new knitter, visible seams were all I knew, but now I can't seem to master it. Whatever. I fiddled with it enough and it looks good to me.

(more on Ravelry, Instagram, and Flickr)

More posts on this pattern here: My Quest. There's also talk on Podcast episodes 4-9 then all the way on 21.