Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Slo-Mo Knit

I don't know why it's taking me so long to finish my Hawt Sands.  No, really, I do.  It's because I've been going to bed by 10, like a good little girl.  I guess I didn't realize how much I accomplished between the hours of 10 and 1.

So here is the front, and I'm about one third through the back at the moment.  I didn't finish it for the end of the Tops, Tanks, and Tees Knitalong, but I'm close.

I officially like working with hemp.  I just don't think I did the color work on the front with enough ease.  Hopefully blocking will straighten that out.  I mostly did fair isle on the front, only doing part of the seahorse in intarsia.  I'm not sure how I'd have done the waves that way too, or if it would've been best.  Intarsia is all new to me.

So this looks extra skinny hanging over a chair because the edges are curling under.  But, even when it's spread out, it still looks kind of small.  However, I knit and washed a gauge, I know my own relaxed tension, and I keep holding it up to me.  It has to work.  I always, always, think things will be too small.  If I size up in fear, I also always regret it.  So I'm ignoring the nagging thought that this will only fit my daughter and knitting on.   And if she is the only one it fits, is that really so awful?  I consider that an advantage.  Because, whether she wants it or not, I know there's someone who can wear an accidentally, tiny knit.

Of course, she's not the only one; just the only one semi-willing.  Once I asked my son if he'd put one of my sweaters on for a headless, progress shot, since he complains about taking photos of me in my knits.  He ran away from me.  Ingrates.

I have changed the steep decreases some for the waist, as my measurements aren't that different from hip to waist.  I don't think it will hurt the design or the hourglass shape too much.  It just made me a little less nervous about the whole fit issue.  If it works, I'll post what I did with my FO.

So I had a great time knitting with you, Shannon and all of the TTTKAL group.  You're a lot of fun and nice company for knitting on quiet evenings.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fire Opal Tee

Even with my new self-imposed bedtime, I still managed to finish one thing for both the Selfish Sweater KAL and the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL.  It's the Fire Opal Tee by Allyson Dykhuizen.

For all of it's dropped stitch, cabled fanciness, it really wasn't that complicated and made good reading/ waiting room knitting.  The cable rows only come every so often and they're easy to memorize.  I found I could even follow Bletchley Circle while working on this.  The only catch is that you must be careful not to incorporate your dropped stitch into any of the cables.  I found, on cable rows, that if I scanned down at all the previous rows to make sure the stitch to be dropped was indeed flanking the cables, I had no problem.  I was able to catch any mistakes quickly that way.

I chose Comfy Fingering accidentally because I thought that was the appropriate weight for this pattern.  But I don't mind as even knitting the smallest size, I ended up with plenty of positive ease.  If I knit another I will probably try Comfy Sport or Shine Sport and even smaller needles.  But still, can you imagine buying this for only $9?  That's what it would have cost had I not added a few inches and needed a bit of one extra skein.  On my next one, I'm not adding length.  I'll go for cropped.

I've enjoyed seeing everyone else's versions of this top in the Selfish Sweater KAL.  They range from bright summery colors, like mine, to dark jewel tones and smoky grey.  The mood of the design completely changes with each one.  I decided to let this top be my submission for the TTTKAL too because my Hawt Sands is in tiny little dk stitches that are taking forever to knit up.  I do have some major progress on it to show later, though.  I've spotted another Fire Opal in that KAL as well.  You don't even want to see all of the project ideas going up on that thread.  Seriously, you do want to see them.  Just scanning through them wastes half of my knitting time.

The things I liked best about this design were the dropped stitches flanking the cables (duh) and the fact that you can play with the yarn weight or needle size and not need to do a lot of math to get it right.  It's a cropped, boxy shape that can work if you knit it a bit larger or smaller than you intended. I have to love things that allow for my sizing errors.

Details: I used size 1s for the ribbing and 2.5s for the body and 4 skeins of Comfy Fingering in the marlin color.  After swatching and getting exact gauge, I decided to knit the smallest size, in case.  I;m glad I did because a size larger would've been too large for me.  Since I have plenty of ease and length, I'll probably throw this in the dryer to get it back into shape after washings.

Oooh yeah, that's Nathan Fillion, isn't it?  I'm his biggest fan (Imagine my crossed eyes and lisp here.)  More on Dallas Comic Con later, I promise.  I may find a way to work this photo into every post I do from now on.  But then it would have to reside next to photos like this:

I have another post drafted about eating liver.  Liver and Nathan Fillion... I can make that work.

My knitting has slowed down but I can honestly say I'm feeling much better and making new friends on the two knitalong threads has compensated for my slowed speed.  I also have a really great summer top for 9 bucks.   Thank you Allyson and Shannon for hosting really great group knitting!

Other posts on this knit: swatching,  progress, and dropping stitches

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I've Become One of Those Girls Who Talks About Clothing

It's because of knitting.  Before I made clothes, I never thought about them.  In high school I just wore whatever.  Maybe a a 60's drop waist dress I'd find at Goodwill, or a kilt I'd get at the GI surplus, but usually baggy jeans and a t-shirt.  There was no planning, no rationale.  That's the way I am and I like it.

Worrying over outfits seemed not only boring, but even a little wrong to me.  I didn't want to be part of my culture's obsession with appearance.  I was raised to think our beauty comes from the God who shaped us, just because He wanted to, not all the things we add to it.  Focusing on the way I dressed was counter-intuitive.  But here I am, writing post after post about sweaters, fit, pairings, etc.  The high school girl inside of me has had her eyes rolled all the way back in her head for a couple of years now.

Of course I don't have to explain myself to you.  You are, most likely, just as obsessed with hand crafting things.  Even if you're not, I realize I owe no explanation for the thoughts I choose to share here.  Still, there's that girl in my head, tapping a Dr. Marten- ish boot in boredom, critiquing the length and content of such a post.  She's got a running commentary going through every FO shot, though she knows my obsession with making clothes isn't so much about the clothing as it is the wanting to see how it's done.  I want to figure it out, see if I can do it, get the satisfaction of working with my hands, and then wear it like a badge.   I think that's why trying crochet was so satisfying.  It was a very different process that satisfied my curiosity.   She also knows that I crave the rhythmic clicking of needles, the steady work with my hands, and the conversation that grows around a group of women (and men) making stuff at the same time.

So there are a few actual human needs involved here: the need to learn, the need to make, and the need for community.  I guess I also need to hold onto the feeling of the process by wearing the product.  I get so much satisfaction out of putting on something I made.  Whereas I once just wore tank tops and cut-offs all summer, I now have beautiful reminders of the creative process to wear over my wife-beaters.  Classy, right?

Perhaps all this focus on creativity and using my hands seems wasted on something as trivial as a garment.  Couldn't that energy be channelled into something a bit more meaningful?  (This is how that hard voice in my head sounds.)  Maybe.  But, Dude, I made children.  I made family work, even when it was hard.  I am raising them with my eyes completely open to who they are and who I am and was.  I see the good and the weak.  I hurt along with people, and I smile with people.  I struggle and forgive.  I breathe deep and ignore.  I create good moments for people nearing the end of their lives on a regular basis.  I choose sacrifice, like so many other people I craft along with, daily.   I consider and consider and consider the heck out of life, death, family, Christ, and my place in all of it.   I know there are lots of other people doing equally difficult things.  Things that are independent of career, education, family status, and age.  All of us desire to work hard, to be good at what we do, and live for something bigger than ourselves.  And a few of us escape for a few minutes, or hours, a day into the narrowly focused world of garment crafting.

So, let me make my top, tank, or tee in the evening while the tv blares, okay?

That was all for my own benefit.  I know you weren't judging.

I'm making progress on my Hawt Sands, by Teresa Gregorio, for the TTTKAL each evening.  It's in hemp, which is freaking me out.  It seemed so small, that I've ripped back and restarted,  knitting a 33" and expecting to get an inch worth of stretch when blocking.  If it turns out larger than that, I'm okay with it.  It is a cover-up kind of thing.

The intarsia- fair isle colorwork I'm doing isn't stretching as much as the rest of the top when I yank on it.  I'm hoping it won't be tight after blocking.  This would never be a problem for me in wool.  I forced myself to knit it very loosely to avoid this, but I'm afraid it will be one of those after-blocking suspense moments.  I'm finding Hempathy a worthy experiment, only it falls out of the ball and into a puddle of knots soooo easy.  I don't feel like I can take it off of my couch, so it's a knit at night project only.

For my grandparents' house and doctors' offices, etc. I have the Fire Opal Tee.  It's in the robotic, memorization stage of knitting.  But, I'm pleased to say, I'm about to shape the neck and be done.

There are so many great projects on the TTTKAL Pinterest board.  This could keep me busy for years.  That's right, years, Girl-in-my-head!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Super Crocheter

It's a's a's a dog in a crocheted baby cape!  It may be tacky, but I had to do it before I sent the cape away.  Don't worry I lint rolled it before packing.

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

It wasn't the baby pattern I would have picked.  I wanted to make him a Gramps, because it's adorable, knitted, and only requires a pipe to finish the look.  But this one is what Mom asked for, so I thought I'd give crochet a try.  I used the Newborn Superman Costume by Family Bugs.  In the end,  I'm glad she wanted crochet because Guys! I learned to crochet and made a baby garment in five days.  Is that not crazy?   I guess crochet is to knitting like Italian is to Spanish, knowing one is a back door into the other.

I used a hodgepodge of yarns (Berroco Comfort in blue, some hobby store cotton for the yellow, and Lion Wool in red) because the red I ordered was too much of a burgundy.

By the end of the first day I had the hat done.  Of course it was large enough to fit Dad's head, but at least I understood the concepts involved.  As with knitting, I had to go down 3 or 4 hook sizes and try again.  I used hook sizes b,c, and f.

The pattern was complete Greek to me, except for chaining.  Luckily, I had a secret weapon: Debbie Stoller's Happy Hooker book.  Yes, I own a book called Happy Hooker.  Anyway, I bought it forever ago but I had yet to use it, so it was my quick reference for every stitch.  I also looked at a hat pattern in it to better understand knitting a circle for this design.  It was definitely like crafting with CliffsNotes.  My son saw this book and said, "Mama, if the title and bright pastel-y cover with these women on it weren't enough to make you put this book down, then all you have to do is read the first sentence on the back cover."  He then proceeded to read about "cozy, chunky, funky" stuff out loud. (Apparently, being punished from all electronic devices leaves lots of time for mother heckling.)

(Everything you need to crochet your own superhero costume: hooks, a book, yarn, and pet hair)

Even with a stitch book, I found myself just improvising to crochet this gift quickly.  It was freeing to know so little that I didn't know if I was doing it wrong.  I figured out a way to hide color changes better behind the emblems.  It may be the proper way.  It may be the sloppy way.  I don't know, and it didn't matter.  That was nice.  And so, after a week, the baby gift is finished.  Be aware that if you ever request a knitted or crocheted gift from me, it may have been pre-worn by an animal.  Sorry, that's part of the deal.

I see this as the first step into the big world of crochet.  Next up will be Betty... Betty Grable by Rohn Strong, which I won yarn and pattern for in the Holla Knits KAL.  Okay, I realize it would be kind of a huge step, but I will have Debbie Stoller right beside me.  Now, it's back to spring/summer knitalongs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tops, Tanks, and Tees!!!

Very Shannon's Tops Tanks and Tees KAL is one of my favorite spring knitalongs and it begins today.  It's not too late to join in, so sign up and visit the thread on Ravelry.  It's the most active discussion thread I've ever seen.  Today's the first day of the KAL and I've already gotten several tips on using the Ravelry site more efficiently, a million summer project ideas,  and some links to good tutorials.

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

So here's my swatch for the Hawt Sands beach coverup.  We are beach people, except for last year when we barely went at all for some reason.  Maybe it was the flesh eating virus alert, I don't remember.  But hanging out at Galveston, riding the ferry, eating at Mosquito Cafe, and getting something cold to drink on the deck of Murdoch's Bathhouse are some of our favorite summery things to do.  That means this top might actually be worn as both a tee and a cover-up.

You know how I'm trying to move toward more summer weight yarns?  Well, this will be my first time to work with hemp.  I'm using Elsebeth Lavold's Hempathy in two colors and trying to knit my actual size for this one, since I can't count on as much growth with blocking.  The colorwork feels different in hemp, I hope my finished tee won't be as messy as my swatch looks.

I'm all set to start today if I can just quit checking out everyone else's projects and yarn choices long enough to get to work.  To be honest, I started Monday, thinking it was the 7th for some reason, and put in a few rows.  When I realized it wasn't Wednesday and that what I was doing is a forbidden KAL taboo,  I dropped the seed stitch as if it were on fire.   No curses have befallen me, so I guess it's safe to continue.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Everett Henley

This is one of the reasons why my blog has been so quiet lately.  It's the Everett Henley by Emily Ringelman.  The other reason is that my life has been boring.  So, it's time to spice things up with another post about... a sweater.

The Everett Henley, by Emily Ringelman, is my third, and last, submission in the Holla Knits KAL this spring.  And, oh man, isn't this color spring perfection?  I remember my mother talking about colors and seasons: Easter dresses, spring blouses, white shoes after March, etc and I'd just roll my eyes.  But, I do get it.  Even though barely anything died off in our winter, it's still totally drab outside.  I need springtime too.

I'm not sure what my favorite thing about this design was.  Obviously I loved the stitch pattern because I had to re-knit so much and never got annoyed with it, even though it didn't allow me to read or watch tv.  It looks so cool now that it's blocked.  The idea of a lace top that's a henley is probably the thing that got me.  I'm very casual and have always dressed kind of tomboyish.  So, for me, the button neck and shirttail hem compliment the bright purple lace and tone it down so well.  It's buttoned-up lace.

I used size 0s and Berroco (which I think I have spelled three different ways in the course of knitting this) Vintage yarn and knitted the smallest size.  Now, I'm not a size 32", but I find my gauge is always a hair off, and that hair ends up making my sweaters big enough to fit both myself and one of my children in it.  So I knit down and block out.  It's my new mantra.

When I was done knitting it, it was a little tight under the arms and had no ease at all. Honestly, it was tighter than I expected.  That's always a scary moment.  I know in my head that wool will stretch, especially if I don't want it to, but making something that is tight after bind off still freaks me out.  On top of that, I didn't know if vintage would block out since it's not 100% wool.  But some Ravelry friends (thanks, Carrie, Allyson, and Emily) reassured me, so I immersed it.

It's the same blocking ritual every time: I bind off then subconsciously hold my breath as I walk from my spot on the couch to the bath tub, where I cover it with water.  Animals scatter, people make excuses to hide in other rooms, I squeeze it out in a towel, and, only then, exhale.  It was just right.

The 60% of manmade whatever content in the yarn probably helped it dry overnight so I could squeeze in a few photos before the KAL ended.

If I'm not mistaken, this was Emily Ringelman's first garment design.   That's hard to believe!  If I were a designer, this is the kind of knit I would consider my piece de resistance and keep on a pedestal in my house.  I would then retire to a cabin in the woods, feeling like my work on this planet is done.

Anyway, since this design came out she's been cranking out the sweaters.  Over the Fence is my next favorite.  If you want to see other finished objects for this knit along, check out the Holla Knits FO threads- lots of summer and winter tops, shorts, skirts, and a million accessories.  I can't even keep up with that accessory thread.  I'd hoped to knit an accessory or two also, but considering my mistakes and busy-ness, plus the bear sweater interruption, I can't believe I completed three.

Other posts on this top: planning, switching yarns, my mistakes, and joining in the round.