Monday, May 23, 2022

Making Guthrie while listening to Guthrie


I won't pretend at having great knowledge of Woody Guthrie's body of work, other than singing "This Land is Your Land" in Elementary school music class. I only fell in love with some of his songs by following what Billy Bragg and Wilco were doing on Mermaid Avenue. But that is all stuff I now love. Those songs played through my head a hundred times as I worked on Caitlin Hunter's Guthrie sweater. 


Guthrie is a good example of mixing an affordable yarn with a pricier hand dyed contrast color to get a unique looking sweater with the hand spun, color-changing look at a price I felt I could justify to myself. If I had stuck with my original plan to use a stashed Wool of the Andes Sport brown, it would've been a real bargain. But I didn't feel like the contrast between the Mississippi Marsala and the Fedora was strong enough.



When I saw this version on instagram, however, I knew that was the combo I wanted. The Contrast skeins really get to show off. So I found some Cascade 220 Sport that was on sale at Bluprint, which was Craftsy and is now Craftsy again- but without all the yarn supplies, and I went with it.

Details: I used size US 2 and 4 needles with 3 skeins of SpinCycle Dyed in the Wool in the Mississippi Marsala colorway and 6 skeins of Cascade 220 Sport in the natural color. The Dyed in the Wool bloomed a little with soaking and blocking and ended up pairing well with the Cascade. 



It's been a while since I knit this, so I don't remember much about the process. Not remembering is usually a good thing because it means there were no traumatic moments or fits of rage. I will say that this sweater fit my upper arms with more ease when I finished the body and a sleeve, and that is the fit I prefer, but that was like three years ago and I only recently wove in ends. If I were to re-knit this today, I would go up a size.  I think this yoke design actually works well with my broad shoulders (especially if it were the right size for me) and that isn't always true with yoke shaping.  

Even though I don't remember a lot about the actual knitting to share with you, I do recall my mind working overtime with memories. Ones that the Woody Guthrie tribute album, Mermaid Avenue always brings to mind. So you get to hear about that instead. :)


For instance:
Driving from southeast Texas all the way to the California coastline in a truck with my husband and children. "California Stars" ran through my mind a thousand times on that drive. As did every song praising the state for its beauty. It was our first time to see it and I finally GOT it. 



I get why Joni Mitchell longed for it like a lover, how the trip there was the perfectly harsh, yet beautiful  backdrop for The Grapes of Wrath and Sweet Thursday. And as we found constellation after constellation we had never seen before, I got why Woody wanted to rest his heavy head on a bed of those California stars. 

"Christ for President" is an infectious bluegrass tune that gives me mental flashes of various political scenes from my childhood: listening to my parents, grandparents and uncles talk about politics and working conditions in local industry. I get déjà vu thinking of hanging out as a bored child at the union hall while my dad coordinated a refinery strike and of playing in the grass outside of a polling place while he campaigned for someone. 


So my dad's political leanings wouldn't fully gel with Woody's. He wouldn't even vote for Bernie, though he respected him, because of the socialist tag. But the sentiments of this song- both the Christian overtones and desire for a better way than our greed/ power driven governance would've rang true to him. 

Then there's "Hesitating Beauty" that has a sweetness to it that makes me think of the kind of love I'd only dare to let myself hope for as teenager- the sort that made me watch old movies. Even though there was no coyness involved in their courtship, my grandparents come to mind when I hear it because of that sweetness of building a simple, long life together. They met in church as children and celebrated 74 years of marriage together before he passed away.





And then there's "Hoodoo Voodoo," which I mentioned in Podcast Episode 56, which makes me think of the crazed energy of my children when they were little. I have such a vivid recollection of playing hide and seek in the house with my daughter as a toddler. We were so impressed the first time she truly hid from us. I also hear my son's almost maniacal 2 year old laughter as he'd bolted for the farm road in front of our house just to watch me freak out. (Don't be concerned. Two year old bolting = Scooby Doo running.) This is where I would love to insert photos of their decidedly unenergetic selves sleeping through movies and family functions, but I don't want to be disowned. 

Suffice it to say, they've outgrown their hyperactivity. The days of toddling at top speed through the house until the dog's wagging tail topples one of them, or climbing a tall rope swing to the branch from which it hangs, using only arms, then flipping upside down á la Circe du Soleil may be gone, but the same spirit and wonderfully ridiculous sense of humor pervades their speech. And I can still hide behind doors to surprise them. 


Another post on Guthrie is hereMore on Ravelry, on instagram here and here, on flickr, and on the podcast Episode 56: Big Summer Knitting Plans.  



There's also several California vacation posts on this blog under the travel tag, if you're interested.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Episode 56: Big Summer Knitting Plans

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.


Find me on instagram and Ravelry.

My question for you: What are some old pattern sources you have always wanted to knit or crochet from but have yet to use?


Stuff I mention in Episode 56: 

knit in Spincycle Dyed in the Wool, Mississippi Marsala: https://spincycleyarns.com/collections/dyed-in-the-wool

inspired by this Guthrie: https://www.instagram.com/p/BoCWFM3nXfa/



Stuff I'm making now:





Undoing my Eastwood Cardigan: 

To knit something like Aquae Tank by Hillary Smith Callis, without shaping: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/aquae-tank

or the Boxy V-neck Vest by Katya Gorbacheva: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/boxy-v-neck-vest

or Gan by Ailbíona McLochlainn: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/gan

Dresden Beret by Tara-Lynn Morrison: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dresden-beret
knit in Madelinetosh Vintage, Mare colorway: https://madelinetosh.com/collections/tosh-vintage

based on the Mare of Easttown TV series: https://www.hbo.com/mare-of-easttown


Sock Ruler from Katrinkles Knitting Jewelry: https://www.katrinkles.com

Summer knit recommendations from you and me:





also to knit in Lindy Chain in Turmeric


to knit in Purl Soho Buttercup, grass color:  https://www.purlsoho.com/buttercup-cotton.html

V-neck Ribbed Sweater, with short sleeves by Carrie M. Chambers: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/v-neck-ribbed-sweater-2
to knit in Purl Soho Bamboo Burnish, midnight blue: https://www.purlsoho.com/burnish.html

 or I'll knit Wild West by Anna and Heidi Pickles: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wild-vest---ville-vesten-2

maybe to knit in Lindy Chain, Plum color

from Pom Pom Quarterly: https://pompommag.com

TV Series we talked about:

made me think of the Lupin series: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2531336/

Australia's Grand Designs Tv Series: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421099/


Monday, April 4, 2022

Siska Toque and Durand Cowl

Doing #RecycleReknitRemake with vlog and instagram friends has given me a chance to knit up a few bulky winter accessories that have been hanging out in my queue for years. 



You know my obsession with comfort knitting in super bulky yarns? Well, it sometimes clashes against my obsession with affordability, or at least it did when I was buying yarn. (I haven't been doing that so much these days.) Anyway, accessories are the perfect compromise because they don't require as much yardage and so I feel I can spend a little more. 

I leveled up this time by using yarn I recycled from a cheap mall scarf. The yarn probably is a wool blend but it feesl like the superbulky Drops 100% wool I have used in the past. It's also in an olive green that I can never get enough of. This will probably always be the most "Me" color on earth. 


So I pulled it out in preparation for the KAL and set it aside for the item I most wanted to make, the Durand Cowl. Now I have seen lots of versions of this cowl in all sorts of bulky yarn and as long as the color isn't too variegated, it always looks good. There are pricier versions in Malabrigo (which really isn't pricey) and there are several versions on Ravelry in yarns from Michaels, Buttercream from Ye Olde Joann, Berroco Macro, Patons Delish, and Cascade Magnum. They all look really good. But I was excited to have something with an almost pre-spun look to it, like Rasta. 


When taking the scarf apart, I set all of the fringe aside and tied it together. I was so glad I did that. It was exactly the length and amount of fringe needed to finish this cowl. 



Details: I used US size 13 needles and my recycled superbulky yarn to knit up the Durand Cowl by Tara-Lynn Morrison of Good Night Day. I have no idea how much yarn I used because I didn't use a niddy noddy before balling it up. I did swatch for this cowl because I thought this type of yarn might take a beating if I knit with it then ripped it back a second time. I'm pleased with the diameter of this cowl. It's just like the sample. I have seen these made to a smaller gauge and I didn't want that. I followed the pattern exactly for this and there's really nothing else to say except that it's lovely. 


I had quite a bit of yarn left over and thought I might be able to squeeze a matching hat out of it. I went with the Siska Toque, from the same book and hoped for enough yarn to have the proper depth. 






Details: With the same US size 13 needles and yarn, I cast on for Siska. I ran out of yarn a couple of rounds shy of the length I would liked to have had. It's not a biggie. Lots of people wear their hats higher on their head than I do, like with this Kenora Toque. I personally like my ears mostly covered and a good size brim, wether or not there's a little extra peak at the top of my beanie. I think I could solve this by some creative blocking, if I want the extra room at the top, but I probably won't. 

It's a good length for a  watchman's style cap. If I don't worry about folding the brim, it's perfect for covering the ears and having plenty of room at the top like all the kids are wearing. I'm really happy with it and that it looks pretty sharp with my cowl. 



I know you've seen Tara-Lynn's designs before, but have you ever purchased one of her books. The photography is some of my favorite of all my knitting books. Once in a while she has a small batch printed up and available as a real "book" book. It's nice to have out and it fits well in my bag.  


Have you recycled anything lately? These are my first two projects from the March make along. I have a couple more to post tomorrow. 


(more images on Instagram, Flickr and Ravelry)

You can see more about my Durand and Siska on My So-Called Handmade Life youtube channel where I plot my recycled knits in Episode 52: Sneaky Extra and Episode 53: Recycle Reknit Remake, then show them off in Episode 54: My Pets Run the Show.





Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Episode 55: Ms. Fixit

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

There's an SUV camper bed DIY at timestamp 42:44




My question for you:
Giant sweater body pillow- yes or no? And what summer knits would you like to do? Any good crochet recommendations?

There's an SUV Camping Bed DIY at the end of the video timestamp 42:44

Stuff I mention in Episode 55:
The #RecycleReknitRemake make along on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mysocalledhandmadelife/

My recycled knits this week:
Windsor Headband by Tara-Lynn Morrison: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/windsor-headband
My High Cliff Hat by Melissa Schaschwary: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/high-cliff
Kapsel Cardigan by Shannon Cook: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/kapsel

Patterns for your recycled knits:
Felix Pullover by Amy Christoffers: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/felix-pullover 

Good for T-shirt Yarn:
Piazza Shoulder Bag by Wool and the Gang: https://www.woolandthegang.com/en/products/piazza-shoulder-bag

My other Dresden Beret by Tara-Lynn Morrison: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/dresden-beret
My Boxy V-neck Vest by Katya Gorbacheva that will actually be a vest: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/boxy-v-neck-vest-2


Summer and/ or crochet patterns:
My Lace Sweater "Villanelle" by Olga Grishina: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/lace-sweater-villanelle
All Around Summer Towel by Knits and Knits by AME: 

Some Youtube channel Recommendations:
Alexandra's Industrial Living Room Makeover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V18-0nAhX7c
Paige's tiny Chicago Apartment tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pC-FrLzpgA
Picnicamp's Range Rover camping video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nNnXDrufqM&t=1359s
Living Big in a Tiny House: https://www.youtube.com/c/livingbig

For SUV camper bed DIY:
a 0.5" thick pc of plywood, cut to 45" x68"
4- 2" diameter PVC pipes, furniture grade
4- 4 way pic connectors
4- 3way pvc connectors
1- 5way pvc connector
9 pvc end caps, all pvc is 2" diameter
a 1"x3" board, cut to 36"
wood screws
gorilla glue
a camper mattress, mine was about 53" x74"

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Illusionist Infinity Scarves

In 2021 I knit a couple of Illusionist Infinity Scarves by Two of Wands. The two color cowl looks very similar to brioche, which I have done, but without the headache of having to look up Andrea Mowry's brioche video and rewatch it so I won't goof it up. I found the whole process very chill. And knitting in 2021 was all about chill evening time relaxation. 




There were no big, difficult projects for me that year- basically no podcasts or blog posts. I was at home, like everyone else, but also in my own little world of making. And it was okay. I've heard from a lot of crafters who backed away from screens after almost a year of pandemic. It's like the world was collectively burned out on information, ads, news, crisis. 

I knit much less than in previous years. I mean, I had just moved and was organizing, purging, and refreshing things, but it was more than that. I just needed some quiet time to think. Instead of knitting I did a lot of walking. I moved from a situation where I was feeling cooped up to having trails in my neighborhood, so I took advantage of them almost every day. Most weekdays I didn't see anyone on them. I would take photos of cactus and dogs and pray and just rest my soul.


Details: Each one of these cowls used two skeins each of two different colors and size US 10 needles. For the first one, I used a color combo I had wanted to try since Lion Brand announced it's Hue and Me yarn line: Shadow and Love Song. (Remember that song by the Cure? Least. Liked. Cure. Song. Ever.) This version was my favorite of the two.



The second cowl was knit in Desert and Werewolf. It is an extra vivid contrast and the one I thought my daughter might choose of the two. I secretly thought the Love Song version fit her wardrobe better, but I gave her the choice as a bonus Christmas gift. You can see that it really suits her. 



The fisherman's rib is a fun stitch and extra special when knit in contrasting colors. It also makes a nice reversible knit. 

I will probably make another one next Christmas as a gift for someone. I'm thinking of the Peacoat and Juniper colors.


(more images on my Flickr)

So how did you guys rest your soul in the last couple of years? How did you do it? Was stepping back from the phone part of your strategy? 

Details on my Illusionist Infinity Cowls on Ravelry: mine and my daughter's

On the youtube channel Episode 50: So Much Hue and Me


Monday, March 21, 2022

Perfect Hats for Winter Dog Walking

As I mentioned in my blog Episode 50: So Much Hue and Me, I knit a crap ton of patterns in Lion Brand yarn over the last year or so, mostly designed by Alexandra Tavel. Why so many? I have a few reasons. The obvious one is that I like her designs, and when you see one that you like from a designer, you often see another to queue, etc. Aside from that I like approachable, affordable designs. The samples are all knit in the same yarn most of us who make them will use. It is easy to source and easy on the budget. 






I also like that she offers so many of her designs for free on her blog. I know that it's a smart business move to have freebies, but it is also making crafting accessible for everyone. And wether I was recycling old sweaters to get yarn or choosing from a stash, I've always appreciated designers who keep that in mind. 



So the first one I made was a Seafarer's Cap in the Hue and Me Shadow color and size US 10 needles. It's a favorite color in that collection because it's not quite grey and not quite brown and almost has a plum look to it. I had one skein of it left after knitting Alexandra's Keaton Vest, which I have yet to blog about. I have so much to post about! Ugh that's why all of these posts may seem listy and sparse. 

I wore that Seafarer's Cap in Shadow some of last winter and most of this winter to walk my dogs in the evening. It is the right weight for when it is cold here and if it gets sweaty or falls on the car floorboard, becoming coated in chocolate and white fur, it's washable. 

In Episode 50 I share the story of how I became neighborhood comic relief in my cap. It is my hat of choice for neighborhood romps, as exhibited below.



The next iteration I made was in Arrowwood. It was a leftover ball from my Harvest Throw, yes another Two of Wands pattern, to get the depth I like I used just over one skein. 



Arrowwood is probably my very favorite Hue and Me color, which means I save it for fancier dog walks. Ha! not really, but sort of. I'd wear it to go out too. It looks really good with my peacoat and black wool blazer.  I  can see making more of these whenever I have leftover Hue and Me skeins. I am so glad Lion Brand started selling a wool blend bulky yarn, sort of like Wool Ease Chunky, but in an updated palette!



The last walking hat I have to show you is my Sophie Bucket Hat. It already has the Go for Faux fake fur, so no need to lint roll it before heading out. It's very trendy, with the bucket shape and the faux fur going on, but I'm not sure it's very me and that's okay because I planned to give it away. I used size US 10 needles and two skeins of yarn in the Bear color to knit a size 3, but I didn't swatch. The resulting fit wasn't too tight, just too tight for me. I have this thing where I get headaches if I feel even the slightest weight or pressure on my head by a hat or headband... or sunglasses... sigh. So I only tried it on for a fake dog walk. 



Fake walks are what I do most of the time with my little, old cow dog. He can't really handle a lot of walking on his joints, but is heartbroken if he gets left behind. So I walk him for 10-15 minutes slowly down the street then back. I then walk the big one for 30-40 minutes. I can attest to it being super warm. It seemed almost like the real thing. 
I'd say I knit each of these hats in two or three sittings, maybe in the time it takes to watch a movie. Not bad for a gift or last minute wardrobe necessity. 


(more images on my flickr)

Check back for posts on the Harvest Throw and Keaton Vest I mentioned. I am super pleased with both of them.
More details about my Seafarer Caps in my Ravelry and on the My So-Called Handmade Life channel in Episodes 50: So Much Hue and Me

And a striped version in this blog post.

Graduate Scarf and a Scrappy Seafarer's Cap

This scarf comes from a collegiate themed collection by Alexandra Tavel. Think Ali McGraw or Felicity.  The inspiration for her collection brings peacoats, pleated skirts, and new, pristine notebooks to mind. 




It's an easily memorized pattern, so it doesn't require looking down too much, which is why I watched tv the whole time I worked on it. Slipped stitches do keep things a bit more interesting than a plain striped scarf. Despite all of the Keri Russell and Love Story vibes, I watched Seinfeld while working on it. (Weare going back and watching all the episodes in order, because we are healthy like that.) 


Details: The Graduate Scarf takes two balls each of two different contrasting bulky weight yarns. I used two balls each of Hue and Me yarn in the Salt and Arrowwood colors. I already had a hat in Arrowwood so I ordered a kit in the sample colors to complement it. Now I have a matchy matchy, school colors kind of thing going on. I thought I'd use most of the yarn, planning to knit it until I ran out, but I stopped a bit after the directed length because it was already massive. 

With the remainder of each color and US size 10 needles, I knit a striped Seafarer's Cap as a gift- another pattern with school color vibes. I just striped randomly, no real plan except to use up all of the yarn. Lately I've been trying to use every last bit of a yarn  that's left over from a project before moving on. Sometimes I make socks with it, or put it in the scrap crochet blanket bin. This time I knitted an accessory as a gift. 




Have you tried Hue and Me yet? I think it is my favorite yarn for gift knitting, other than super wash sock yarn, as it is easy care and works up pretty quickly for someone like me who often waits until the last minute to decide I'm going to make a gift. 

Some other patterns from Alexandra's collection that I'd like to try are the Library Wrap and the Campus Cardigan. I already have Lion Brand Just Hemp that I can use for the Rec Club Backpack, which I hope to make sometime for summer. 

So I think we are in season 4 of Seinfeld at the moment. The more I watch, the more I am convinced George is the most horrible, and therefore, the best character on the show. Other shows we've been watching weekly are Raised by Wolves and Severance. Severance has an old fashioned mystery/thriller feel to it, sort of like Homecoming. We are always disappointed when an episode ends. Also, I adore Patricia Arquette. 


(more images on my flickr)

I'm not sure what to think of Raised by Wolves. I love sci-fi, the storyline seems all over the place but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sci-fi shows that constantly introduce new "world rules"can sometimes get silly. Same goes for shows with heavy religious imagery (This is supposed to be based on the Book of Enoch. Have you ever read that? I haven't.) Religious caricatures in sci-fi are so often cornball, but it's good so far and I'm invested, even though I'm tired of Travis Fimmel's wild-eyed Ragnar expressions. Sidenote- the opening animation and theme song is so very good. As I watch it, I'm reminded of my son's thoughts on Dune: that it was peak me.

See more on The Graduate Scarf in my Ravelry.
and on My So-Called Handmade Life Podcast Episode 51: Hopeful, Episode 52: Sneaky Extra, and Episode 53: Recycle Reknit Remake.

And more of my striped Seafarer's Cap on Ravelry