Sunday, November 27, 2016

Warm Head, Warm Heart

After getting some big projects finished, I've been able to focus on some smaller, more quickly completed projects lately. Since last posting, I've made two hats. The first, above, is the Fimmel Hat, part of a kit (#2) from Dale Garn North America that was gifted to me. It's 100% alpaca, so it's quite warm, but it has a bit of a mohair-fuzzy halo to it, something you don't usually get when using regular sheep's wool. The stitch definition has a bit of a haze to it as well, although that might have has much to do with the tension issue I had with this as with anything else. There is a matching set of fingerless mitts that compliments that hat and uses many of the same motifs. I have enough yarn to knit them, so I might give them a try. But what is the one size of DPNs I need for this project? US Size 4. And what is the one size I don't have. Jeff doesn't believe me when I tell him this.

While this is a really cool hat, it's not for me. I'm thinking of donating it and the accompanying mitts to my family's summer reunion silent auction.

The second hat was also from some gifted yarn. It's the Mendia Hat by Ambah O'Brien, made with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in the Whiskey Barrel colorway. This yarn makes knitter look so good! It's a fun fast knit, with a lace chevron pattern through the middle -- which I had to do over three times to get right. If you follow the pattern thoughtfully, you get a chevron pattern. If you think, "meh -- I know what I'm doing," you get diamonds. I did this twice.

I worried that my pale, bald head would look weird through the lace holes, but the fabric is pretty thick due to the twisted stitch ribbing, and it doesn't look bad at all. I made the large size in the slouchy version. Not sure if I can carry that off, but I really do like it and it is super warm. I'm wearing it right now in my house, hoping it will bring on the cooler weather.

And now for the warm hearts.

Jeff and I have been out of town for the last several Christmases, so we haven't bothered putting up a tree. Which means this is only the second time I've gotten to use the julekuler ornaments that I made in the summer of 2012.

We usually put up our tree (yes, it's artificial) on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We had a great time with his family in Fort Worth and Dallas this weekend, but were eager to get home to start getting our house in shape for Christmas. We spent the morning listening to jazzy yuletide tunes, setting up the tree and getting things decorated in general. It was a relaxing end to a fun weekend. As usual, getting ready for Christmas brings back a lot of happy memories, and has it's therapeutic properties, too. I'm really looking forward to all the friends that will be visiting us this year.

And finally, when Jeff's cousin invited us up to Thanksgiving at her house (which was amazing, of course), she sent this photo of her daughter, wrapped up in the Tamarix Quilt (really a blanket) that I knit for her when she was born. I can't believe that she's nearly six years old now. I also can't believe that this is still one of her favorite things -- and that it has held together so well. Apparently, it's a nap-time essential for her. It was so great to see her this weekend playing with her little cousins and seeing how much she's grown up.

I'm really enjoying this holiday season so far, and it's only just getting underway. Here's hoping we all have a wonderful end of the year, full of hope, beauty, and the promise of good things to come.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Happy 10th Blogiversary to Me!

Janelle recently mentioned getting some handy information from the depths of her knitting blog, and it inspired me to look and see how long I'd been doing this. As fate would have it, today is the 10th anniversary of the first post of Knitting Sweaters & Sitting Still!

I've almost abandoned this blog a few times. Blogging isn't really the thing it used to be. There are so many more social media outlets for getting your knitting information out there that I wasn't aware of back in 2006. And there was no Ravelry, so the blog was an important part of the way I tracked my progress as a knitter. But I find I still kind of need it. Writing a bit about the things I'm making is useful. It helps me put my work in context, and think about projects and how they relate to the world around me. Not that my knitting is changing the world, but it has changed me.

So I'll probably keep this going for a while, although it's obvious I've posted less and less over the years. In the last two months of 2006 I wrote more posts than I have in the first 11 months of 2016. But 10 years is a pretty big milestone. To celebrate, here are some of my favorite photos of projects from over the last 10 years.

2006 - Moss Sweater for Jeff

2007 - Double Scoop Sweater for Gracie

2008 - Garter Stitch Throw for Jim & Carolyn

2009 - Perfectly Plain Vest
2010 - Tamarix Quilt for Emory
2011 - Baby Surprise Jacket, also for Emory!
2012 - 55 Christmas Balls
2013 - Grettir Sweater for Michael
2014 - Machrihanish Vest
2015 - Moorish Stripe Socks
2016 - Shady Marmalade Throw

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Guido Pullover

Finally finished the sweater I started for Jeff this summer, and we're both pretty happy about it. In my early knitting days, I made a few sweaters for Jeff. When I proposed making them, he happily said yes, but then rarely wore the resulting garments. He instinctively knew that I'm a process knitter and that the journey is way more important to me than the result. He knew I'd be happy making them. But he just doesn't care to wear wool that much, and our Texas climate doesn't provide that many opportunities to wear it comfortably. So I'd stopped making sweaters for him.

Then, as I started watching the Fruity Knitting podcast, Jeff admired a smart striped pullover that Andrew wears in some of the episodes. When we got to meet Andrea and Andrew this summer, I asked her about it, and she pointed me toward the pattern and yarn. Rowan Purelife Revive is (or was) composed of roughly 1/3 each recycled cotton, silk and viscose(rayon) -- much more wearable for a Texas winter -- or a German spring! Though discontinued, I managed to scrape up enough yarn from various online vendors in the right colors and got a copy of the Rowan magazine (#55) with the pattern.

I went through several mood swings with this pattern and yarn. It has no "give" to it, so it's kind of like knitting with kite string. Knitting for long periods could be a bit rough on the hands. And I mistakenly looked at an errata page and ordered one less ball of the main whitish color than I needed for the 42" size and ended up having to order that extra ball later. Fortunately, the supplier still had the same dye lot. Some parts of this I just flew through -- one of the sleeves was done in just a few days -- while others took ages. One factor for the time it took was this project's non-portability. All those different colors to wrangle and all the careful counting and slipping that had to happen.

Seaming it all up was also difficult for me. The slipped and therefore wrapped stitches on the edge made it difficult to see where to run the yearn for the seams. On the sleeves especially, the edge stitches switched from wrapped slipped edges to stockinette edges and I got confused. I tried doing a backstitch from the wrong side, but I really don't have enough experience with that and wasn't pleased with the results, although I did use it for the shoulders. I managed with mattress stitch seaming on the right side for the rest. The seams are fairly obvious, but I don't think that's a problem with this particular garment. At the point where the collar starts, the instructions say to use the color that's right in the center of the front. But in consultation with Jeff, we agreed that the ribbed collar should match the ribbing on the hips and the cuffs. I think that was a good call.

Jeff likes it and it looks really good on him. And the cotton/silk/rayon blend means it will be wearable for a longer part of the fall and winter. Especially happy that I got this done before the coolest part of the year hits. Notice I didn't say "coldest". Not sure that term applies anymore. Anyway, I like the striping, and that I branched out into colors I wouldn't normally choose. I think it has a bit of an 80's retro vibe to it. It fits me, too. Just sayin'....

On the same day, I funneled my just-completed-a-project adrenaline into some socks I'd had on the needles for OVER A YEAR! I just wanted them done. I'm not usually opposed to fraternal twin socks with this kind of yarn, but this pair, which I dubbed the Domino Socks, just aren't doing it for me. I liked the yarn when I bought it, and loved the shop in Maryland run by two Mennonite sisters where I bought it. I remember casting on for these using my plain go-to sock recipe just to have a portable project for some event, then never really took it out of the house much again after that. But they're done and I won't have to stare at that the WIP label under it in Ravelry any more. I did enjoy the solid black toes and afterthought heels, though.

Maybe I can cast on for some socks that actually interest me soon. I also have an interesting scarf coming up and beautiful yarn for a Fair Isle hat. If you're still here, stay tuned!


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Orange (and Gray) is the New Blanket

I seamed like a fiend this past weekend and attached an applied I-cord border to tidy things up. The Shady Marmalade blanket is now complete!

To refresh your memories, this blanket is based on Verypink's Log Cabin Scrap Blanket. Her original pattern is more akin to a quilt-style log cabin blanket, in which all but the center square of each patch is made of rectangles. My variation started with two squares, which makes the whole patch a square. All 63 of them. The final blanket ended up being in the neighborhood of 43" x 56", so my squares were close to 6" x 6",

I seamed up the edges to make 9 strips of 7 squares each with short seams, and then used a long scrap of yarn to seam up the strips. Sometimes when doing seams, I go through two stitches per side, but on this one I went through every single one.

I rotated the squares so that the garter ridges in the orange centers of the light squares ran in one direction, and in the opposite direction for the darker squares. I also rotated where the solid side, my term for the edge with thirty stitches all the way across, was positioned. If you follow the squares diagonally in one direction, they are all the same. As you might ask, and indeed guess, I did sew one of my strips on upside down. The checkerboard pattern worked, but the flow of solid sides did not. I didn't realize it until I was ready to sew on the next (and final) strip. I almost let it go, but just couldn't. I un-seamed the whole strip, flipped it, and started over. It would have driven me up the wall. As it is, I found one tiny row on the edge of a square where I did two stitches of stockinette instead of garter like the entire rest of the blanket. I'm willing to let that one go. But I will point it out if you ever see this thing in person. I just can't help it.

I'm really pleased. It looks great on the orange couch and on our gray chair. And, it turns out, even looks quite fetching against red dogs. I asked Jeff to "model" it on the couch, and he had barely draped it across his lap when Kate hopped up to give it a try. Even Pona was a bit curious. It's going to be quite warm, I think, as the days cool down, especially with a dog warming our hips. We tested it out, and it's perfect for sitting side-by-side and staying cozy. And Jeff, not usually one to compliment wool fiber, says that this blanket isn't bothering him at all. So despite calling this the Shady Marmalade blanket, it turns out it's not too itchy-itchy ya ya da da.

So glad to get this project finished. Now I can concentrate on getting Jeff's Guido Sweater completed and get started on some new projects! In the meantime, here are a few more pictures that I couldn't quite squeeze in here.


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Seamingly Tedious

I'm still here. I seem to post less and less these days, and I've also had way less time to knit than I'd like. My two big projects have progressed somewhat, so I thought I'd check in.

The Shady Marmalade Blanket squares are all finished -- all 63 of them. And now the sewing begins. I've had quite a few rough starts, but I think I'm getting better at it. I'm trying to rotate the squares so that the garter ridges on the dark and light squares run perpendicularly to each other. And I'm trying to pattern them out so that the solid side of garter stitch alternates from side to side across the row. I found this creates diagonals of like-oriented squares across the blanket. I messed this up twice while getting the first two rows together, so I'm learning to be careful. I'm sewing up 7 squares in a strip with short seams, and then using a long piece of yarn to connect each strip. Seems (or seams) to be working so far. This is going to take a really long time, though. I worked much of the day and only got these 14 squares together. But now that I've figured out my rhythm, maybe I can go faster tomorrow.

Jeff's Guido Pullover is rolling along. I've got most of the front completed, and am just a few rows away from the neck shaping. Then it's on to the sleeves. I've used three of the four balls of the light colored yarn (Pumice) already, and I'm having serious doubts about the last ball making it through two sleeves. Fortunately, although the yarn is discontinued, this is one of the easier colors yet to be found. I'll know soon enough, I suppose.

Kate, featured in the photo above, has gotten the crafting bug herself, it seems. At work last week, I got a panicky text from Jeff and a photo of yarn strewn all around the house. Kate just couldn't resist digging her nose into a bag of yarn for this sweater and getting creative with the aforementioned remaining ball of Pumice. Miraculously, she didn't bite through it or get any of it tangled up. No real harm was done, but now Jeff will think fondly of Kate drool every time he wears it.

Not much else to write about. If I'm writing this, I'm not knitting, right? I did get a gift of yarn today to make a Fair Isle hat that I'm kind of excited about, but that will have to go on the back burner for the moment. I'm also happy that the weather has taken a slightly cooler turn of late. Maybe this will kick me in the tail to get back at knitting in full force.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Squares and Stripes Forever

I've hit a few milestones of late on the two large projects I've got going on. Normally, I'm a fairly monogamous knitter. It makes me antsy to have more than one project on the needles. But the Shady Marmalade Blanket and the Guido Pullover compliment each other quite nicely and I'm learning to appreciate juggling two very different fibers. When knitting with the kite-string-like cotton blend yarn of the sweater fatigues my fingers and wrists, I can switch over to the much more forgiving wool of the blanket. And when the blanket becomes too mind-numbingly mindless, I can switch back. This was basically my M.O. over this long holiday weekend, and I got a lot done on both projects.

First, the sweater. This sweater is composed of a 96-row pattern, that gets repeated on the way up. For the medium size, the back repeats the 96 rows a little over two times. I was happy to note that I seem on-track stripe-wise when I looked at other medium samples on Ravelry. Of course, I'm going through my usual anxiety about running out of yarn. Since this yarn is discontinued, the clock is ticking on finding sources. Which only makes me want to knit faster. My tension is fairly close to the one outlined in the pattern, but leans toward being a little smaller. However, I've held it up to Jeff and it looks like it's going to work. I just cast on for the front to try and keep my momentum going.

The blanket, too, is humming along. Like the sweater, I also had some anxiety about running out of the orange -- a discontinued color -- but knew I'd be alright when I passed the 2/3 point. I'm making a total of 63 squares, and I got 45 squares out of the first two balls of orange yarn. I should just make it. Just 15 more squares (or 5 balls of gray yarn) to go. The end is in sight.

I'm still toying around with ideas for seaming this up and think I'll just have to try a few techniques and see if I like them. I think a lot of trial and error will be involved. I don't know if I'll have enough yarn leftover for seaming -- I may have to buy some more. I'm also debating whether to add an i-cord edging around the outside. I'm leaning toward yes. Beside just looking tidier in general, the outside edge will be a hodge-podge of little sections of cast-off and garter edges. It's going to look a little ragged if I don't do some sort of edging. Raggedness is a look, but I don't know if it will go with the overall geometric design.

So, no finished objects, but time marches on. Just ask a certain little one who got a new baby blanket this summer. Can't believe she's already been around for 2 months! Her mom shared a picture of her little bundle of joy enjoying her blanket. I got her permission to post this picture here. I love seeing this -- so happy it's getting used and so happy for my colleague and her family. Isn't she precious? Also -- how cute is that poppy dress?

Back to the sweater, and the blanket, and the sweater, and then the blanket...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Blanket Statement

It's been all about the blankets since returning from our trip. One for us, and one for a friend. First, the friend.

Rhonda asked me if I would knit something for a great-niece that she is expecting to arrive later this month. I don't always "take commissions" (as if I did this professionally!), but Rhonda is such a good friend to us. And I'm more comfortable with non-garment requests where I don't have to worry so much about fit. We sat down and discussed fabric and style, and I ran some ideas past her. The little one is going to be named Rose, a family name, so she wanted something that evoked ideas of rosiness. We settled on a pattern called Bounce from Tin Can Knits. I've already knit two of their blanket designs this year and was pleased with the results, so I knew this would work well. We settled on some Knit Picks superwash, which I'd also been using quite a bit this summer. The colors here are Dove Gray, Rouge and Carnation.

It's not a very complicated pattern. It's a 12-row repeat, with the first four rows garter-stitched in the main color (Dove Gray), and the other 8 done in a simple lace pattern. The edges are done in garter stitch (an easy thing to screw up) to keep the edges from curling. Unusually, this lace pattern has shaping on the wrong side, too, making the decreases that much more angled. The two-stitch decreases that create the rib lines also pull in the gray to make the whole thing look like it's draped with bunting. Or like icing on a cake. Especially with all this pink. I quite like it.

I made the crib size blanket, which is supposed to be 30" x 45", but in order for the 3 Rouge / 2 Carnation pattern I set up to come out symmetrically I had to add a few stripes, making it closer to 30" x 48". It's the biggest baby blanket I've ever made, that's for sure. And because superwash can behave unpredictably when wet-blocked, it did stretch out a bit. I was able to tame it during blocking, but it wants to be even bigger.

I've also been working on the Shady Marmalade Blanket that I started way back in June. The plan is to make a lap-sized coverlet, for two laps, that will go with our orange sofa. I'd only plugged away at it sporadically, but I've been focusing on it during these strange rain-soaked cool August days that have miraculously arrived. They're easy to work and I really don't have to think much while knitting them. If anything, their mindless ease has led to me ripping out unneeded rows as I've gone too far. I seem to have the gauge down better now, unlike earlier when I had several that were noticeably larger than the others. I've made 29 as of today. Only 34 more to go to hit my goal of 63 squares in a 7x9 configuration.

So, lots of knitting in these cool rainy days that in most years are so unbearably hot I can hardly think about knitting. I've also recently cobbled together some colors of a discontinued yarn to make Jeff a sweater. It should start arriving next week. I'm hoping that I can have it finished in time to take advantage of truly cooler weather. Like the immigrants convinced by Great Plains land speculators and railroad developers that rain follows the plow, I'm gambling that my knitting will bring on the autumn and winter. A surer bet, but still, you're welcome.