Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hawt Galveston Sands

Riding the ferry to Galveston is a major nostalgia trigger for me.  I remember taking it to visit my older sister one summer after my mother passed away.  I didn't realize how much I craved a little getaway, and staying with her in Galveston was exactly the retreat I needed.  I can so clearly recall how it was barely light outside and I stood at the front of the boat, letting sea spray hit my face.

There were also many, many summer trips to the coast in high school with either my brother or groups of kids, listening to loud music, with the windows down, the whole way.

Later I came with my own kids.  They were always excited to see dolphins keeping pace with the ferry, to play on the beach, or walk the seawall.

It's a peaceful herald of summer.

The last time we were in Galveston with just our daughter was about 17 years ago, before my son was born, below.

I remember getting this low light photo developed and cherishing it because it was such a good day.

We had such a good time "swimming" Tuesday.  Everyone lays in the shallows, talking and getting pushed around by the waves, being silly.  Every time I realize I'm laughing these days, I feel such gratitude for the moment.

So, it was a good, overcast day at the beach, complete with lunch at Mosquito Cafe, a long run through the sand, some stunt kite flying, and lots of lazing about.

Hawt Sands is my third or fourth pattern to knit from Teresa Gregorio.  Every one has been a much-worn knit.  The thing that drew me to this design was the hood, the seahorse (of course), and imagining the seed stitch border in hempathy.

I'm a little out of my depth with hemp and intarsia, so there were a few challenges to getting this knit the way I wanted.  If I'd done this in a wool blend or cotton, it would've been such a snap.  But hemp felt all wrong in my hands. Knitting with it was like writing with my left hand, all jerky and weird.  But after all of that stockinette, I did get a feel for it.

For this top, I used Elsebeth Lavold's Hempathy in beach white (8 skeins) and blue pine (1 skein) with size 0 needles.  I knit it to be fitted with the expectation of the hemp blooming and relaxing with washing.  Thankfully, it relaxed to just the right amount.

Keep in mind that I knit my top longer than the pattern sample, plus the hemp stretches.  That's why I still needed more hempathy when I finished up the 6th ball in beach white.  I think I found two of the last balls of this color in existence at Abundant Yarn and was relieved to find that they looked the same as my other dye lot when dry.  When wet, you can see a color variation, but it looks like intentional color blocking, so I don't really care.

I modified this be longer and to have fewer decreases because I wanted it a bit loose at the waist.  I don't feel like the difference between my hip and waist measurements is as much as the average person's.

Here are the mods.  They appear lengthy, but it's just that changing the amount of decreases changed everything else.  I'm typing these out for me, should I want to knit another one some time:

Hem- I cast on for the second size and increased the amount of seed stitch hem by half an inch.

Decreases- My row count was off so I spread out the first set of waist decreases by two rows more.  I didn't do the last two decreases either.  Because I was spreading my decreases out, I started my color work charts after three decreases.

Colorwork- I had more stitches on my needles than called for, so I just centered my color work for the front.  By the time I did the back, I realized I could have just added some "waves" to keep the color work almost continuous across the front and back, but I just didn't have the heart to redo that much knitting to satisfy the anal perfectionist in my head.  I'm getting better at tuning her out.  I did, however, knit more waves across the back.  To balance things out between front and back, I added some waves to the front in duplicate stitch.  It was a compromise with the nitpicker.

I used a combination of fair isle and intarsia for the color work.  I used intarsia for the top and the bottom of the seahorse and carried the fair isle I was using for the waves across his middle section. By the time I got to the back, I had figured out that the hemp required a much easier tension for color work than I was used to.  To knit that way felt loose and sloppy but it turned out a lot better than the front when washed and blocked.  For the front, I had long strands of the blue yarn hanging from the inside, so I used the slack to loosen the color work up some.  It turned out okay, but not as nice as it could've been.  Next time I will know better.

Increases- For the bust increases I increased as directed but did one less increase.  Keep in mind that I had done less decreases, so I still had plenty of room there.

Sleeves/ shoulders- After casting on for sleeves, I had 119 sts, so I knit 3 extra stitches before working the left front placket, and made sure I had the same number to the right of it.  I also had 3 extra stitches to graft together for each shoulder.

Hood- When picking up stitches for the hood, I found that I needed to pick up an extra stitch at each shoulder gap to keep it from being "holey" there.  I knit the first one with the stitch before by slipping the a previously held stitch to my right needle, picking up one from the gap, then slipping both back to the left needle to knit together.  I then picked up another stitch from the gap and knit it with the following held stitch.  I did the same on the other side.

I really don't know that these mods were necessary, but I knew I'd never regret making a coverup a little loose.  I would, however, be bummed if it was tight.  Things need to be free and flowy in the Texas heat.

Honestly, it wasn't hot at all that day on the beach.  It was overcast and perfect, except for the crazy amount of seaweed.

Previous posts on this knit: swatching, getting the hang of colorwork, and halfway there.

All said, I love my coverup!  I'm so pleased I tried hemp and it came out okay.  I have a few more of Teresa's knits lined up for this summer or fall:  Drift's Ridge in lilac and grey in a wool/silk blend, because I've hi-jacked the purple bandwagon, and Ontario Skies, because I can wear it all year.  Teresa also has a podcast that has quickly became one of my favorites.  Listening to her voice and "podcast presence", you'd never guess that she hasn't been doing this for a long time.  There's always some interesting aspect of life or crafting to consider.  I'm even clearing out my closet, somewhat, after listening to her Wardrobe Architect series.

Knitters and would-be- knitters, Teresa is hosting a Knitting Read-a-long in her Ravelry group, where we'll read some of the knitting classics together.  The first book is one I'm ashamed to say I've had since way back in my early knitting years, and still haven't read in it's entirety: Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  It's funny and smart, but I guess I need a little push to hold off on my knitting long enough to read about knitting.  There's still plenty of time to join in and order the book.

This was a good day.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Super Baby, Revisited

I just wanted to post this photo, which is much more appropriate than the last one,  of the cape I crocheted for my sister in law, only this time there's a beautiful new baby boy in it.  Welcome to the world, Baby Judah.
Learning crochet was so worth it.  :)

(photo via his proud mom)

more in my earlier posts, on my ravelry, kollabora, and flickr

Monday, June 23, 2014

In Pieces

I started knitting in my late twenties and hadn't been at it long when I was introduced to seamless knitting.  There was that Twinkle book and Stefanie Japel, and I became a believer.  I went seamless as much as possible on a knit.  I'd modify things to be knit in the round, try to do afterthought sleeves rather than set- in sleeves, or just eschew designs that required seams altogether.  Only recently have I been hearing all the "seams give a knit structure" talk.  I'm sure that's been an issue of debate for a long time, but I do knit under a rock, so...

 I think Nachtfalter was the first time I realized that, yes, the seams did add structure.  It didn't hurt that they were minimal and easy to sew.  I can definitely see myself employing seams from now on where a top might stretch out of shape without them holding it together.  When using hemp for my Hawt Sands coverup I was glad for those side seams.  I fear the hemp would've stretched and twisted into a deformed mess if left alone.  As it is, it just lengthened a bit, which was fine with me.  (I will post photos of it in a few days.  I have to take them at the beach, after all.)

Maybe I didn't see a need for seams before because I knit very fitted sweaters in the beginning and now it's all about ease.  I've even added a false purl stitch seam to loose sweaters to try and prevent stretching.

My point here is that my latest project, the Oud Tank, has been knit in lots of pieces: front, back, side panels, and collar, and I found it fun to break it down that way.   It was a nice change of pace and let me stow it in my purse more easily.  It may even sharpen my seaming skills, which are so very dull.

Okay, and now can I just say I've been waiting all season for the moment when Helena meets her sisters, so Saturday was kind of awesome for this homebody.  (Go here if your device won't let you see it.)

Also, how do they do it?  Two full seasons and I have yet to cringe at dumb lines, dippy relationships,  or get bored by the plot line?


Friday, June 20, 2014


It's my new thing.  (This is a fibery kind of post; I'm just warning you.)  I'm officially all the way into the deep end of summer knitting.  Last summer, I knit five lightweight tops and wore them all year.  This summer, I'm stocking up on enough cotton and cotton blends to knit something for each day of the week.  Not literally, but it's pretty bad.  Every time I get my closet "organized" for yarn storage, I get more cotton yarn.  It's so cheap, how can I not?  Obviously, this is an unexpected area of temptation, like the constant sales at Webs.

 (more on ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

It is just so easy to justify a little more.  So far, Fire Opal cost about $12, Reef knot- $9, and I don't remember about Hawt Sands, but I know the hemp was on sale.  Could I have done better, price-wise, at Target?  You know the answer.  Quality-wise?  You know the answer.

Affordability and wearability aren't the only attraction to cotton.  Since I turned my attention to summer tops, I have tried lots of new things:  hemp, lace, more lace, unusual colors (for me), etc.   It's like I left all the "rules" of my style of project behind me.  The only thing some of these knits have in common is interesting details and fiber content.

So now I'm onto the Oud Tank, not to be confused with the Ood, by Sarah of Knit York City.   If this were  a fall sweater, it would be a departure from my usual texture heavy, oversized knit.  However, since it's a summer top, it fits right in with the rest of my queue.   It is also heavy on the cute details.  Can you see this with pleated, dress pants and men's style oxfords?  I so can.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reef Knot Tank

I started the Reef Knot Tank, by Sarah Wilson, on the way home from Utah last summer.  But then there was a sweater knit along, sale wool, more wool, and I don't know what happened, except that it ended up waiting in a bag in my closet for the next summer.

When I realized I'd have to wait on an order for the last two skeins of Beach White Hempathy in existence to finish my beach coverup, I pulled this tank out to fill the knitting void.  So what could have been an annoyance became a long overdue finished thingy.  

First, I ripped out the bit I'd previously knitted because I read the pattern more carefully this time and realized I'd need negative ease.

I knit the size 30" in Knit Picks Comfy Fingering in some kind of evergreen color way.  I also switched to size 1 needles once I was done with the provisional cast on.  Oh, yeah, and I grew up and actually did a real provisional cast on with a crochet hook.  The first time I did a provisional cast on I think I chained out a couple hundred crochet chain stitches by themselves, then knit into each one.  It was bizarre.  Needless to say, this tutorial was much less like an insane person's solution to a new technique.

Getting used to the rhythm and tension of fingering weight takes a bit, but once I got it, this was a smooth knit, perfect for reading!  I did get a chance to try another new technique, besides the provisional cast on, with the eyelet I-Cord bind off.

Here's what I love about this design:

-the knot, duh.  I was actually tying mine while my son worked on knots for Scouts right beside me on the couch.  I told him I could teach him a reef knot, but he just rolled his eyes.

-the picot, turned hem.  That's a new one for me.

-the invisible nature of the kitchener stitch on something like a little strap.

- that it's something I can wear in the heat and looks good layered over a swimsuit or sports bra, because that's how it will usually be worn by me.  Can you believe- a knit you could wear on a long bike ride in the summer!

Next time I knit one of these, and I probably will knit another one because look how fast it knit up, I'll try it in linen or hemp.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

Speaking of hemp, would you believe those balls of Hempathy actually match my Hawt Sands top from another dye lot?  My relief at that outweighed my frustration at having no one to help me take photos of the Reef Knot until it was late and rainy in a park full of Looky Loo Bubbas in their trucks, along the river's edge.  Sigh.  Yeah, it really does outweigh it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

DIY Pet Clocks

Here's an ancient draft I thought I'd finally publish:  DIY pet clocks.  I made these as Christmas gifts for several members of my family.  They went over very well.  My father has the one of his pug, Mr. C, hanging in a place of prominence in his living room, where the eyes can follow you no matter where you're sitting.

If you haven't seen the original blog post on these on A Beautiful Mess, check it out.  Here are my crazies below.  I did a cruel thing to Spotticus.  I asked if he wanted to go on a walk so he would give this look that he always gives when I ask that.  We fixed them where they hang on the wall, all cock-eyed like that.  I did walk him... eventually.

The stuff: 8 x 10 photos, glue, clock parts, foam board, an exacto knife, and nail polish.  
I ordered the clock parts from Orange County Clocks on Amazon.  The glue was Elmers, but if you really want your image to last you would cover it in a Mod Podge formulated for photographs.  The nail polish was just cheap stuff from Walgreens.  

First, I glued their faces to the foam board so they could be drying as I worked on the rest of the project.  

I laid out all of the clock parts that would be visible to paint with the polish.  The styrofoam they were packed in was useful for holding the hands in place so I could paint them without smudging.

Next, I used my very, very dull exact knife (you don't want a dull knife) to cut out the photos.  I had printed up a few extra in case the foam board broke on one.

All that was left was deciding where we wanted the clock parts to pierce the photos and assembling them as directed.  I decided not to include the dots for 3,6,9, and 12.  It was too distracting.

And now I'm just being silly.

(more on my flickr, instagram, kollabora)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Pom Pom Quarterly

Every once in a while I come across something trivial that I obsess over.  I must collect every single issue, piece, or version of it.  It's usually some form of media and that holds a nostalgic quality.

One year, it was reclaiming the Sassy magazines I read, with serious misgivings, as a teenager.  (I know, I know.)  Another year it was finding every episode of China Beach online because it will never be released on dvd.  At one time, I recorded every story I could get my grandparents to tell from their childhood.  Obviously, these obsessions come in varying degrees of importance. Sometimes it's something like finding my favorite childhood songs on vinyl.  This year it was finding all of the print copies of Pom Pom Quarterly before they're gone forever.

I waited too late to start subscribing to Pom Pom.  I bought issues 3 and 4 to try it out.  When I saw the quality of the print, illustrations, and patterns, I subscribed and snagged issue 2 at the same time.  Issue 1, however, was already sold out.

I did try the websites of the American stockists on the Pom Pom website, to no avail.  I figured I'd just have to wait a few years and maybe one would show up in a book de-stash on Ravelry.

Then I read Lori's blog post about completing her collection and decided to follow her example by emailing every, single shop on the stockists list to see if they had a stray copy.  I was amazed that they all responded.  They all said no; but, hey, they took the time to respond!

I took it a step further and ravelry messaged Lori to see where she'd found issue 1 and she happily gave me the name of the shop.  I decided to try calling them and found that they did have at least one copy.

Within a few days it was on my book shelf, crammed in next to all of the other craft books that make the shelf sag.  Yeah, I needed more stuff.

My first knits from the collection will be the Riverine Pullover ,by Andi Satterlund, and Ananas Comosus, by Sarah Garry, which I'm knitting very soon.  But I have Garland and  Waterlily, queued up, too.

It's not a big deal, just a little happy thing that happened with the help of generous people (Thank you, Lori!) and it lifted my spirits.

(my ravelry and flickr)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Every Time, I Was Never the Same Again

I am just throwing up some old instagram pics along with some rambles to get myself back into the blog routine.
I've been overhauling my eating and sleeping habits and it's left me with like 3 or 4 less waking hours every day.  I can't say how much that stinks for me.  It means I have to choose between reading and knitting most days.  It means I didn't finish the sweater I started for the TTTKAL (though I did finish a WIP I was already halfway through).  It means I haven't even touched my photos from Tennessee or the greatest Comic Con ever, and it also means I haven't watched season 2 of Derek yet.  This is cramping my night owl style.   BUT, I have gotten at least 8 hours a night for about a month.

I'll be honest, I'm not feeling a big difference yet, but who knows how much more stressed I'd be right now if I wasn't.  I am in a weird period of emotional stress due to family members' situations and there's really no fix for it except to cultivate the practice of doing the actual work that I can on their behalf and leaving their feelings in God's hands.  And I don't mean trite little words like: "Let Go and let God."  I mean seriously saying," I can't be responsible for this person's happiness.  It is wrong for everyone if I try to make this person happy in this particular way.  What should I be responsible for and how should I go about it?" 

With every crisis or embarrassment I've faced in the last couple of years, I've had a distinct feeling God was showing me what I can take with His help.  I'm not saying He made all those things happen.  Those bad times were all just things that happened or the outcome of someone's poor decisions.  But wether it was learning of a betrayal of sorts, or forgetting something very important that hurt someone's feelings, or realizing I'm just not seen for who I am by certain people, I'd think: Can I take this?
and I'd hear:  Yes, you can and once you learn how to weather this without freezing up on the inside, you'll never be the same.
It was true.  Every time, I was never the same again.

I'm becoming a master of walking thru common, everyday flames.   I haven't endured some of life's worst losses, but I am enduring loss, without denying it or hiding from it.  When I was a girl I had no idea how often adults refuse to acknowledge disappointment; just pretend it never happened.  (Have you ever thought about what that word means?  Being removed from a thing you were appointed to, or the thing you think you were appointed to.) We normally self-medicate and plow onward.  I'm just not someone who can do that.  So, as I'm facing junk and finding I don't crumple as easily.  I am also getting better at accepting things without being a super grouch.  I think I even see a day where someone I love can say words to hurt me, just because they're feeling bad, and it won't even ruin my morning.  I think.

So, I don't really know how going to bed by ten will help with all of this, but I'm trying to be obedient to God with my health.  I mean, this is where my life is right now- navigating lots of responsibility- so I'm doing my part to keep myself going.  Of course, writing here is a small part of that, so I thank you for listening.

(There's instagram, and there's flickr- two more things I can't do because I go to bed early.)