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!