Saturday, December 31, 2016
It's the last day of the year, and I realize I haven't checked in for a while. I made some progress on a new project that I wanted to share.
This is the back (left) and front (right) of the Svenson Pullover by Jared Flood, appearing in the Winter 2017 collection. I'd wanted to make a cabled pullover for myself. I'd made a few in the past, one for Jeff and a more abstract one for me, but they are way to big for us these days. I'm making the 43 1/4" size using Brooklyn Tweed's Arbor in the color Humpback. It's perhaps the most perfect brownish gray ever.
The stitch definition with this yarn is amazing. So glad I splurged and went with the yarn called for in the pattern. I love the moss stitch panels on the sides, the larger horseshoe cables and the smaller honeycomb cabling in the center. There are little purl stitches at the top of each honeycomb cell that add a cool bit of extra dimensionality. Between these two motifs are mirrored side-by-side 1-over-2 cables that make a pleasant ladder pattern. The sleeves are raglan, and where they are sewn to the body, the seam runs up the middle of a set of these ladders that will basically zip together as the whole things is assembled. The design is quite thoughtful in this way. I've never made a sweater using this construction, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all fits together. I started the left sleeve this afternoon.
In addition to being an accomplished knitter, Janelle is also quite the spinner. What she knows about fibers and how they behave. She's the best person to go yarn shopping with. And, she brought me a little something that she spun recently. Can't wait to figure out what to do with it. It's a beautiful 2-play Jacob yarn in a lovely shade of brown. What can I say -- she knows me! And it's been wonderful seeing their boys grow up. Glad that they get to come to Texas every so often.
It was so great having them here. And most of the old college gang was able to get together for a pre-New Year's party as well. Even those who were home ill were able to Facetime in -- ah, technology.
I'm looking forward to the new year and all it may bring. Here's to a fruitful, fun and fiber-filled 2017!
Sunday, November 27, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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
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|
|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
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Fruity Knitting podcast! You may remember from a previous post that I got to be on their Knitters of the World segment in episode 7. I got in touch with them and they graciously set aside part of a very warm afternoon to have lunch and to visit a few yarn shops in Frankfurt. Andrea and I even got to spend a bit of time knitting together in a park -- I wish I'd taken some photos of that. It was such a lovely afternoon and I can't thank them enough for their hospitality. I loved hearing Andrea's passion for design and colorwork and style and all the things that bring her to knitting. I can't thank them enough.
One of the shops we stopped by was Maschenwerke. Andrea introduced me to Heidi, the shop owner, who showed me around, pointing out the amazing variety of yarns she carries, mostly from the UK and Japan. She also had an amazing number of pattern books -- more than I think I've ever seen in a shop in the states. She flipped open some Japanese pattern books with some really cool men's designs and showed me how the patterns were written slightly differently. She seemed pretty fearless. Her knowledge of the economics of importing yarn and how she looks at quality was so impressive. I love hearing people discussing things they're passionate about, and Heidi was no exception. She clearly knows her stuff. And I also admired her drive to try new fibers in interesting combinations. It was infectious.
So much so, that I decided to knit a scarf pattern that she'd whipped up, using two fibers I'd never think to put together. Both are from the Japanese company, Ito. One is Sensai, a mohair/silk blend (60/40) in an electric blue color, the other is a flat navy ribbon-like cotton yarn, Gima 8.5. The pattern is called Schal Sommerbrise (Summer Breeze Scarf?). Every row is knit with the Sensai, and then the Gima 8.5 is brought in from time to time and knitted together with the Sensai to make beautiful stripes. The effect was quite beautiful in the shop sample she had. It will be fun to play with these new fibers and, though it might not be quite me, it will make a great gift.
Meanwhile, off to the side, Andrea was showing Jeff some nice men's sweater patterns from some Rowan design books. Jeff doesn't always care for handknits, mostly because of my preference for wool. But I think Andrea may have convinced both of us to branch out a bit, so be on the lookout for a future project that I think we'll both be happy with. Thanks, Andrea!
I did try to visit some yarn shops in Ljubljana when we were in Slovenia, but the two I had identified weren't around any more. The first had closed up it's city storefront and was now based in a small town many kilometers away. And the other seemed to have shut down for the summer. As near as we could tell from the sign in the shop window, the owner was saying she'd be back in January. So much for Slovenian knitting. I didn't see a single soul knitting in Slovenia. However, a few days earlier, on one of the hottest days in a city on the coast, I did see a woman crocheting in the shade on her rooftop terrace. She looked so relaxed and peaceful...
Since I've been home over the past week, I've been able to work one last baby blanket for the summer. It's soaking right now and getting ready for blocking. More on that later.
Friday, July 08, 2016
Me & Ewe has been open for a little over a year. It's on Woodrow Ave., just off of 49th and Burnet Rd., very close to where the old Omelettry location used to be. It's a little tricky to figure out. Until a month ago, the shop was in the house right on Woodrow Ave., but they recently moved into the larger structure behind the house, with more room for yarn, fabric, and teaching spaces. In fact, classes are a big part of what this shop does, with all sorts of classes for every level of skill, including drop-in options.
I stopped by to pick up a few skeins for a surprise, and found the great t-shirt (above) with the shop's logo on it. I love that graphic, especially the little buttons between the words. Also, it's gray. So of course I had to get one.
I also got to meet and cuddle with Me & Ewe's own little version of Swatch from Project Runway! And her name, awesomely, is Purl.
Purl was seen scooting all around Austin on neighborhood forums several months ago and managed to make quite a journey before ending up at a construction site near Me & Ewe. She seems to have settled right in and was just the cutest little store mascot. She's quiet, doesn't disturb the merchandise, and you might not even know she was there. She was quite patient with me handling her and posing for a selfie. Pona & Kate were predictably put out with me when I got home for having stepped out on them.
Thanks, Purl. And thanks, Ella, for the nice chance to visit and for showing me around your shop. I hope I can be back soon.
As you can see from the stack above, I've been working slowly on my squares for the blanket. I'd finished about 14 when I noticed that the first 5 or so were noticeably bigger than the rest. I seem to have settled in at a tighter gauge, and because I noted that this newer smaller gauge lets me get exactly three squares out of each gray ball of yarn, I decided to rip out the first 5 and re-knit them. This means my blanket will be smaller unless I knit extra squares, but I couldn't see blocking out 58 squares to be bigger just to match the first 5. I've almost got the re-knitting wrapped up -- just 1 to go -- but it did set me back time-wise.
We;re heading to Germany next week to visit family, and I still haven't decided what to take in the way of knitting, whether these small squares, or the baby blanket that I'd like to get started on. Still have some time to decide, but I know I'll be taking something. I'll try and post something from the road while I'm gone.
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Fruity Knitting is Andrea and Andrew, a couple of ex-pat Australians living in Germany. Every few weeks, they post a video about knitting. It covers patterns, skills, projects they've made, their history with the craft, interviews, field trips, and more. One of my favorite segments is Extreme Knitting in which they and their daughter Madeline and their dog Jack head out into the world and knit on hikes and walks. Points for their extreme knitting at the end of Episode 1 in which they climb and knit on Snowdon in some rather nasty weather. Much of the podcast is done in a very conversational style. It's like sitting and knitting with friends.
Another segment they do is Knitters of the World (love the BBC-like graphic!) in which they shine the spotlight on knitters and some of the things they've made, with a focus on their knitting environment. Episodes have included knitters from Finland, Ireland and Germany. And now, Texas! Several weeks ago, Andrea contacted me and asked if I would send a submission. How could I say no? I agreed and then promptly fell off my bicycle. I had to postpone shooting for a few weeks while I healed, which they were quite gracious about. All I needed was a director / cinematographer / acting coach / lunch companion. Staci stepped right up. She knows a thing or two about knitting and video. Thanks so much, Staci!
We headed out into one of the muggiest days of the year to talk about knitting. It was quite fun, but because of the heat, much of the footage is indoors. Which actually represents knitting in summer for me. Kate even makes a cameo appearance! I sent all the clips to Andrea and Andrew, and they spliced it all together into a coherent whole along with some pictures of things I've made and some nice music. I'm amazed at how people can stitch what seems like a jumble into a coherent whole. Hmmm. Video editing is kind of like knitting, it seems. Thanks to Fruity Knitting for making me look so good!
I hope readers will take a look at this video podcast. It's great to just hang out and knit to. I learn so much from each episode. And, if you watch a few minutes past my segment, you'll note that Andrea mentions I'll be in Germany in a few weeks. It's true -- and not far from them. I do hope I can manage to meet them and thank them in person.
Here's the whole episode, Episode 7, below. (Or, if you prefer, you can jump to the part I'm in.)
Saturday, June 04, 2016
It looks like I'm in a blankety mood these days. After the recent spate of baby blankets, I decided it was high time I made one for us, sans babyness. Ever since we got our orange couch last summer and had our walls painted gray, I've been knocking around the idea of knitting a cozy color-coordinated throw to drape across the back of a couch or chair -- and across our shoulders in the cooler months. Janelle, always looking out for me, sent me a batch of potential pattern candidates last year, all of which were very "me," and I chose one knit by yet another friend. This blanket is getting cozier by the minute!
I'm doing a variation of Staci's Log Cabin Scrap Blanket. I got the idea from Ravelry user bommeline's Blanket II (link requires Ravelry login). Rather than knitting a half-sized rectangle after the central square, I made another identically sized square, then two squares twice as long , then one three time longer. And, of course, unlike a traditional scrap log cabin motif, I used the same color. And they ain't scraps. They were bought for the express purpose of making this blanket. Because I'm using orange with two tones of gray, I've named this blanket Shady Marmalade.
Because I enjoyed using Knit Picks Swish DK so much on two of the baby blankets, I decided to stick with it for this project. I'm using 4mm(US6) needles and doing all the stitches in multiples of 10. Each section is 20 rows long. Each square is about 6.5" x 6.5" square. The little center sections are roughly 2" x 2". I'm planning on making this blanket 7 squares by 9 squares for a total of 63 in alternating shades of lighter (Dove Heather) and darker (Marble Heather) gray. The current plan is to use an applied i-cord to cover the edge. I just love the little pop of orange in the center squares. As I knit them, I alternate between seeing the smiling face of Ann B. Davis and the smirking face of Paul Lynde.