Tuesday, December 09, 2014

FOs: Catkin Hat and Rye Mitts

I'm sure this is a common knitterly problem. I have very few matching accessories. Scarves/shawls generally use one skein, so if I wanted a matching hat or mitts, I'd need to plan ahead and get two. Pretty single skeins are usually impulse purchases for me - planning ahead? Nah.

Most of the time I embrace my non-matchy-ness - most of what I have is purple/blue/green anyway, so whatever. (Plus, I have a bright turquoise jacket...) This time, in the interests of making something other than a shawl from my single skein, I've made a matching hat and mitts!

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Pattern: Catkin Hat by Kate Davies and Rye / Ruista Ranteeseen mitts by Hanne Katajamäki

Yarn: Natural Born Dyers BFL/nylon Hi-Twist Sock


With this hat, I think I have conquered my unease about slouchy hats. I've always felt a bit awkward wearing them, and I think I've figured it out. Previous slouchy hats have always been too loose around the brim! This one is pretty snug around the brim / my head, and only becomes slouchy at the back because of the strategically located increases. Win!

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Photos taken during a recent trip to Cambridge - with bonus punt.

One interesting technique employed in this pattern is ALL THE TWISTED STITCHES. I happen to enjoy ktbl, so no big deal. I normally use twisted stitches for ribbing or other situations in which knits are alternating with purls. This pattern calls for twisted stitches for the entirety of the cable pattern, meaning there are lots of twisted knits next to each other. I wasn't sure how this would turn out, but I think it looks okay. Not entirely convinced it is necessary, but maybe it helps define the cables a bit more?

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I chose this pattern mainly to use some awesome wooden buttons I had in my stash. This was a pretty straightforward knit, though the pattern requires some interpretation. It is translated from Finnish, and some of the directions are not the clearest. (Designer admits as much on the pattern notes, so it wasn't a surprise.) In any case, it's a free pattern and it all worked out. I ended up doing 1x1 rib at the cuff / tops / thumbs because I wasn't paying attention to the directions at first - supposed to do some sort of garter rib. Oops. When I realised my mistake I couldn't be bothered to rip back, so I just went with it. Good enough. :P

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As it turns out, I ran out of green yarn, so had to shorten the thumbs a bit and use different yarn for the straps. I dyed some yarn with tea a few years ago, and the brown complemented the green nicely, so I went with that. The only issue I have with the straps is that my buttons are too large for the buttonholes. I will probably keep the straps fastened most of the time, so it's not really a problem.

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But the mitts are nice and long if I want to unfasten the straps.

Woot for another Stash Match set of projects! I haven't forgotten about this, and plan to allocate more patterns to stash, starting with my sock yarn. Look out for this and hopefully more frequent updates soon!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

FO: Dragonflies


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Pattern: Dragonflies by Joji Locatelli

Yarn: Brigantia Luxury Double Knit

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Mods: Ribbing instead of garter stitch for neckband, cuffs, and bottom hem. More frequent decreases for sleeves, plus some winging it.

Love this and it fits perfectly. I am so excited about it now that it is finished. It was a long-haul knit because I never found the lace intuitive and I had to be glued to the chart. I got bogged down in the middle, but it was all totally worth it. The only thing I would change if I made this again would be to make a larger neck opening. It fits fine, but I think it would be even nicer if it was a bit wider.

The pattern is very well done. Joji has really gone above and beyond to provide different charts for each size, which I really appreciated. No chart-fudging or guessing required. The lace opened up a bit with blocking, but would probably open up more if I blocked it aggressively. I don't think it needs it, though.

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I also really enjoyed working with this yarn. I had never heard of it nor worked with it before I saw it at Ginger Twist on my knitting group's Yarn Crawl earlier this year, but I will definitely use it again. Reasonably priced, reasonably soft, reasonably sturdy-feeling, great colours. I will have to keep track of how it wears, but it doesn't feel like it will disintegrate immediately.

For those keeping track, this FO marks my 2nd sweater of the year, thereby fulfilling my goal to knit myself two sweaters this year. Woot. Maybe next year I'll make three? Haha.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

FO: Song of the Sea

Confession: I love the idea of infinity scarves / long cowls, and I even designed one once, but I have never felt like I could pull off wearing them as well as the fashion-y types. That said, I keep queueing them, and I intend to make more, so I'd better learn how to wear them. Here is my most recent attempt - I think it went well.

Pattern: Song of the Sea by Louise Zass-Bangham

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock

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Mods: More repeats of the large and medium waves, and skipped the small waves.

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This was super fun to knit. The lace pattern is reasonably intuitive and addictive, and the yarn is awesome. I am pleasantly surprised that it has held up so far - I felt sure that the mythic Malabrigo Sock would disintegrate the moment I put it on. Much sturdier than expected, though I will keep track of how it wears over time.

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My one gripe is the rolly-ness of the thing. I had read that the edges tended to roll, so some people use different edgings and the designer re-issued the pattern with an alternate edging that I used. (Garter-rib type thing). The thing is, on mine it isn't the edges that roll so much as the lace. Maybe I didn't block it aggressively enough. I've taken to wearing it as in the above photo. You may not be able to tell, but it is basically folded along the circumference so that top and bottom edges are together. The fold sticking out in front is along the middle of the lace. If that makes any sense. Anyway, it impedes the rolling a bit.

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Folding it over also makes it a bit more substantial. It is quite wide and so bound to become floppy when around the neck - floppiness is great, but can obscure the pretty lace. Having it slightly narrower and thicker due to folding means less floppiness. Win? I'm not sure. I still like it, though.

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It also works well worn doubled. I'm sure I will wear this a lot as the weather cools down.

Stash Match tally: 1 FO!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FO: One for me, one for you

Sometimes knitters gravitate towards particular types of projects. There are people who knit sweaters exclusively, and others who only make accessories. Some knitters like to knit socks. Some knitters really don't like sock knitting, but they like wearing handknit socks. How is a knitter who doesn't like sock knitting going to get some handknit socks?

A few (Okay MANY months and I'm only getting around to sharing this now) months ago I participated in a Socks/Shawls swap to solve this problem. The sock knitters get to knit socks, the shawl knitters get to knit shawls, and then they swap.

I happen to like knitting socks. I also like making shawls. So when this swap came up, I volunteered to do whichever was required to make the numbers match up. In the end I was assigned to make socks, and partnered with someone who prefers shawls.

My partner was Jen (Phantominblue), and these are the socks I made.

Pattern: Earlybird Socks by Cassandra Dominick

Mods: I wrapped the yarn three times for the elongated stitches, rather than two.

These socks are toe-up with a heel-flap and gusset. I'd never done socks this way before, and I enjoyed it! Generally I avoid toe-up socks when knitting for myself, since standard short-row heels don't fit me well. This kind of heel is similar to the standard heel for cuff-down socks which fit me fine, so I'll definitely have to try it on socks for me some time.

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Yarn: Old Maiden Aunt Merino Superwash 4-ply in the Tardis colourway.
Love this yarn. I will never get tired of OMA yarns. This is the first time I've made socks with this base. I generally go for wool-nylon blends for extra hardwearingness. I couldn't pass up with opportunity to make Jen some Tardis-coloured socks, though, knowing her penchant for Doctor Who and blue in general. In any case, the merino 4-ply is sturdy for a merino, so I'm hopeful it will wear well.

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Here they are on her feet! Knitting socks for people at a distance is always interesting and a bit nerve-wracking, but this time it worked out quite well.

Jen made me a gorgeous Haruni lace shawl.

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I love it! I've admired everyone else's Harunis ever since first finding it on Ravelry, but it never made it into my projects. It's so exciting to have one that I didn't even have to make.

This was a swapping win. It was a fun novelty to receive a handknit, since I sometimes give handknits as gifts but almost never receive them. And knowing the work that went into it I can appreciate it even more.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

FO: Wee Manu

My husband's cousin had a baby girl this summer. Of course I had to knit something for her!

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Pleas excuse lumpiness. I only have grown-up sized hangers and it is making it hang funny.

Pattern: Mini Manu by Kate Davies

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash (red) and Rowan Pure Wool DK (purple)

Mods: i-cord edging in a contrasting colour. I had done my provisional cast-on with the purple yarn, and liked the colour combination a lot, so decided to finish it off with the same purple.

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This turned out super cute, if I do say so myself. For a baby sweater it was a bit of a slog, though. The pattern is ALL ABOUT the fiddly details. Mostly worth it: I-cord bind-offs are so tidy and i-cord button holes are amazing, but damn. Never-ending finishing.

There were some editing glitches with the pattern - nothing insurmountable, though. For example, the instructions state to make 5 buttonholes, even though the pattern photos show 3. I was blindly following the instructions and completely overlooked the pattern photos, so I did 5 buttonholes. Not that much of a problem - I actually had 4 buttons to use, and then decided that looked bad, so I used 3 buttons and sewed up with extra holes. Worked out in the end. Also at one point the pattern cut out and I had to wing it until the next step. (During the pocket instructions, if memory serves.) Again, worked out fine, but I was surprised to see that.

The best thing about knitting this was learning about Sunday Short Rows. If, like me, you have never felt totally comfortable with how your short rows look, give these a try. They are wrapless, practically invisible, and reasonably simple to execute. Brilliant. Will knit again.

I will think very hard before knitting teeny tiny wee pockets on something again, though. As cute as they are, I'm not sure it was worth the fiddliness.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Stash Match: Too Pretty for Socks

Earlier this year I copped out on on blog week by introducing my Stash Match project. And then entirely failed to follow through. Ooops. It has been very difficult coming to a decision about these skeins! Anyway, here is the first post dedicated to assigning patterns / projects to my Too Pretty For Socks category of stash.

For me the obvious choice for pretty sock-weight yarn is neckwear; however, I always feel like I have too much and should try something else. Out of curiosity, I gathered all the scarves/shawls/shawlettes/cowls I could find and put them together.

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The resulting pile is smaller than I imagined! I'd say that is far from an excessive amount of neckwear and I could totally get away with knitting some more. Nonetheless, I would like to branch out to include other accessories, like hats and mitts.

The Searching

I began with my existing queue and favourites. I reasoned that my favourites list already included many awesome patterns I had picked out from the mass that is Ravelry. (I also added loads of things to both of these ists over the course of my searching. But anyway.)

Ravelry's advanced search  / pattern browser function is awesome, and I have used it extensively to prepare this post. Also saved searches on Ravelry have been very useful. Here are a few of my saved searches:

Searching my favourites on Ravelry for shawls, scarves, and cowls, in 4-ply and sportweight yields 102 results, although this includes some that I have already made, as well as some I never want to make but just think are pretty/impressive/awesome when someone else makes them. The same search in my queue yields 7 results.

A similar search for handwear in my favourites has 51 results, and in my queue, 7 results.

And for headwear: 21 results in favourites, and before starting this exercise there were NONE in my queue, but now there are 2 results.

Obviously I'm a serial-favouriter, but I don't think about making hats as much as everything else. As it turns out, I rarely wear hats in the winter here since I'm always expecting it to get colder and it hardly ever does. That doesn't mean I shouldn't wear hats, though - 4-ply hats might be the perfect solution.

The Stash/Yarn Mismatch

A problem I came up against is that my stash doesn't really match a lot of my favourited patterns. For example, my favourites show that I'm obsessed with striped shawls, especially since making Color Affection last year. I also love colourwork mittens. Both of these types of projects require two or more contrasting colours of yarn used together. Unfortunately, much of the yarn I have is too similar in colour-value - if used together, the stripes or colour motifs would get lost. Or if not, the yarns have different textures and I don't think they would work well together. I may yet raid some of my yarn in the Sock Yarn category to pair with this yarn in order to have stripes... or I may end up buying contrasting yarn to maximize stripe / colourwork potential. In the mean time, I am going to make my matches in solid colours for now, and if the stash augments / changes, I will re-evaluate. This decision cuts down my matching options considerably, but there are still lots of patterns to wade through.

Despite this mismatch, I've come up with some stash-pattern matches that I can get behind.

The Matching

As a reminder, here is the stash I am trying to match in this segment:

The following yarns are ordered from top to bottom in the photo.

Malabrigo Sock (402 m) (Stash link)
Song of the Sea, by Louise Zass-Bangham. Gorgeous lacy cowl that perfectly fits the yarn, even down to the colourway "aguas." I previously posted about starting this project, and it is going well so far.

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Peek of Malabrigo waves

SweetGeorgia Cashluxe Fine (366 m) (Stash link)
Luna Viridis, by Hilary Smith Callis, 366 m. I'm intrigued by the shape/construction of this cowl. It is supposed to fit like a shawlette wrapped around the neck, except it's a closed loop so it won't come undone or slide off. The Cashluxe Fine is so incredibly soft that it has to be worn around my neck - not negotiable.

Natural Born Dyers BFL-Nylon High Twist Sock (370 m) (Stash link)
Catkin hat, by Kate Davies, (160 m). I adore the Catkin sweater, but I may never get around to making it, so I want to make the matching hat just in case. I think the colour and texture of this yarn suits this pattern well: a bit rustic, earthy semi-solid, not tightly spun. Hopefully the cables will show up, but the character of the yarn will also show through.

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Rye / Ruista ranteen, by Hanne Katajamäki. I'll have yarn leftover, so I also plan to make matching mitts. This is a simple fingerless mitt pattern that will let me use some of my button stash, as well! The ones shown above I bought at Woolfest a few years ago and they complement the green yarn quite well. It may be a tight squeeze for yarn, but I can always shorten the mitts slightly. I am also considering making mitts that have the same cable from Catkin on them - shouldn't be too hard to modify some plain mitts.

Old Maiden Aunt Merino/Bamboo 4-ply (366 m) (Stash link)
I really struggled to come up with a pattern for this yarn for some reason. The yarn is soft and a bit fuzzy and I expect it will only become more fuzzy as it wears. I finally decided on the Ice Storm Mitts, by Louise Zass-Bangham, (125-151 m), and matching Ice Storm Snug Cowl, (209 m). I'm hopeful that the textured stitches will still look good when they get fuzzy. Yardage may be a bit tight; in addition, the patterns call for sport weight yarn, so I may have to do some adjustments for gauge.

Old Maiden Aunt Superwash Merino 4ply (366 m) (Stash link)
This is the greenest yarn ever and I absolutely love it. My love for this colour and this yarn has seriously impeded my decision-making. I have been caught in the trap of searching for the one perfect pattern, and nothing seems good enough. Finally, I've made a decision (subject to change, of course).

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The Cinnamon Stone Shawl, by verybusymonkey, (338-366 m), immediately intrigued me with its interesting textural lace. I keep coming back to it, and it think it would look great in this yarn - plenty of texture, but also plenty of stockinette to let the yarn shine by itself.

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock (411 m) (Stash link)
Arya Mitts, by Patti Waters, (343-457 m). I love the neat cables on these. The yarn seems quite sturdy, so I hope it will hold up well as mitts. This is on the variegated end of semi-solid, but I think the colours will show up in short bursts / flecks when knitted up, and so not interfere with the cables. At least, I hope so, but we'll see!

Fyberspates Sheila's Sock (365 m) (Stash link)
Flavia Hat, by Beth Kling (221-250 m). It's been a while since I did any truly complex cabling, and I feel now is the time. The yarn's semi-solid colours should play nicely with the intricate cabling on this hat. I should have some yarn leftover, so may make matching mitts. Perhaps something like Totally Cabled Long Fingerless Mitts by Linda Lehman, only not so long since I won't have enough yarn. Or maybe something based on the cables in the hat.

Shibui Sock (175 m) (Stash link)

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Quilted Lattice Mitts, by Jennifer Elaine, (137-183 m). I know, I recently made a pair of socks in this exact stitch pattern. I am not bored of it, though, and it works really well with variegated yarns, so why not go for the mitts? I may change up the pattern a bit to make it more herringbone... or I may not.

So there you have it. Phase one of Stash Match is complete, and now my queue shows it. Allocating yarn to patterns has been difficult but somewhat liberating. It's nice to feel organised. Now, I need to get knitting if I'm ever going to start/finish any of these before I get distracted again.

Stay tuned for the next Stash Match post, in which I will look at my suitable-for-socks sockweight yarn.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIP: Song of the Sea


I have a WIP! Well, I have several WIPs now, but one of them will be an FO by Friday (jinx) and one of them looks the same as it did last time I posted.

Behold the humble beginnings of Song of the Sea by Louise Zass-Bangham, in Malabrigo Sock.

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The colourway is Aguas. It is absolutely perfect and I adore it. (A bit greener than it appears here.) Very water-y, appropriately enough.

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I haven't got far, but so far I really like the pattern. Maybe that's predictable of me with my love of wave motifs. This one is quite intuitive and a welcome change from lace that requires all my attention.

The keen-eyed / good-memoried among you may recall that this skein of Malabrigo Sock is part of my Stash Match challenge wherein I attempt to assign a pattern to most yarns in my stash. 1 skein matched: lots to go!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIP: Dragonflies

I'm in the unusual position of knitting-monogamy right now. One project on the needles! (That is going to change by tonight, though.)

Here is a progress photo of my Dragonflies sweater.

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It's taking forever because I'm really slow at lace. Also long torso is long, so I think I've completed just over half of the body. Since I still can't manage the lace while out talking to people, (though it is getting easier), I started on one of the sleeves during knitting group. Judging from how the upper arm fits now, I think I will decrease more quickly for a while for a snugger fit.

In other news, summer arrived in Scotland, and though it has cooled down again a bit, it's still rather pleasant outside. I'm enjoying open windows and leaving the house without a cardigan.

Also, in case anyone wondered whatever happened to my Stash Match project, just wanted to say I'm still working on it. My indecision is my worst enemy, plus I may or may not have increased my stash since blog week, which means more skeins to allocate. Oh dear. It'll get there!

See more WIPs on Tami's blog for WIP Wednesday #200!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

FO: Crystalline Socks

Remember these?

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Pattern: Crystalline Socks by Cailyn Meyer

Yarn: 75% Wool, 25% Nylon hand-dyed with Wiltons Icing colours.

Mods: I crossed the cables on every quilted stitch row, rather than having the quilted pattern out of sync with the cable pattern.

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These socks were lots of fun to make. I really like the quilted lattice stitch pattern - a good choice for variegated yarns. I plan on using it again, or a variation on it, with some other variegated yarn I have. I actually thought this yarn was going to be more variegated than it ended up being. There is much more green in it than I thought when I dyed it. In any case, I loved watching the colours change as I knit and slipped stitches.

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Slipped stitch rows went really quickly, as well. Had I not taken a long break to knit some gift socks (which I now remember I haven't shared on the blog yet), these would have been finished in short order, since they flew along.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5KCBWDAY2 - Introducing Stash Match

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It's the second day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, and I am already veering off-piste. Apologies to Eskimimi whose well-thought-out topics are about to get re-interpreted/ignored! Rather than write a dating profile for an FO as per today's topic prompt, I'm using today's post to launch a series of posts I've been pondering for quite a while. You see, it's my stash that needs some love, not my FOs. Hence, Stash Match.

Stash Match: What it is
(I didn't intentionally steal the phrase from anyone else, though some quick googling yields it on a quilting blog. I hope she doesn't mind.)

Over the course of an undetermined number of blog posts, I will attempt to allocate all (or most) of my stashed yarn to patterns / ideas for future knitting. I reserve the right to change my mind about these stash-pattern matches, but having a concrete list rather than a nebulous cluster of vague thoughts will make me feel a lot more organised.

Why I am stash-matching

In theory, I prefer to buy yarn with a pattern in mind. For sweater quantities of yarn, this works quite well in practice. For single skeins of pretty sock yarn, not so much - rather than a specific pattern, I end up telling myself "This could be a shawl(ette). Or it could be socks." That is not untrue; however, it is also not helpful! I end up with lots of beautiful yarn not allocated to a project, and when I need something for a particular project, I just buy more - invariably, nothing in my stash at the time seems right.

I try not to let it bother me too much, since pretty yarn sitting in stash is pretty yarn, but I think I have hit the point where I need to go through it all and at least tentatively allocate yarn for specific projects. After all, I have an extensive queue and favourites list to draw from - surely there are some perfect yarn to pattern pairings just waiting to be recognised! I can always change my mind if something even more awesome comes along.

The Candidates 

Most of my stash is in the photo below. Not included are sweater quantities of yarn, most leftovers from other projects, and handspun. (I have some handspun, but I didn't spin any of it myself, so don't get excited). And anything else I couldn't find or forgot about.

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After much deliberation, I have grouped it into rough categories as follows:

Green: Too pretty for socks
Cyan: WTF yarn
Yellow: Destined for colourwork
Pink: Alpaca
Blue: Sock yarn
Orange: Laceweight

The Green section is the one that is taunting me the most right now. I have deemed these Too Pretty for Socks because from my perspective they are unsuitable for socks for at least one reason. Some of them aren't superwash, some of them are too delicate, and all of them are so beautifully dyed that I can't imagine hiding them in shoes.

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From top to bottom, it includes the following:
Malabrigo Sock (402 m)
SweetGeorgia Cashluxe Fine (365 m)
Natural Born Dyers BFL-Nylon High Twist Sock (370 m)
Old Maiden Aunt Merino/Bamboo 4-ply (366 m)
Old Maiden Aunt Superwash Merino 4ply (366 m)
Cherry Tree Hill Supersock (411 m)
Fyberspates Sheila's Sock (365 m)
Shibui Sock (175 m)

So there it is. Team Too Pretty for Socks is up first for stash-matching. After blog week, I will be back with a post talking about the matches and how I came up with them. In the meantime, let me know if you have any brilliant ideas for the above yarn. Do you need to do a stash match, or is your stash already perfectly allocated to patterns/projects?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, Day 1: A Day in the Life

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Describe a day in the life of a project that you have made, or are in the process of making.

Sunday, 11 May 2014 - 9:30 am
The knitter awakes, goes through her morning ablutions, and emerges. The Dragonflies sweater in progress is resting on a chair in the living room. The knitter ignores the project and proceeds to eat breakfast and drink a cup of tea.

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10:30 am
The knitter appears to decide to get some knitting in before going to work. Upon picking up the project, sitting down, and working a few stitches, the knitter realises that she is nearing the end of the ball of yarn. Lacking the motivation to wind the next skein into a ball, the knitter puts the project down again and reads her book instead until it is time for work.

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The knitter leaves to go to work. As far as anyone can observe, the project spends the day inactive; perhaps it is plotting and waiting quietly before making its next move.

6:00 pm
The knitter returns from work, starving. She spends some time preparing and eating supper. The project is still stationed on the living room chair, having apparently not moved the entire afternoon.

7:30 pm
The knitter decides to wind a new ball of yarn to facilitate working on the project, using a primitive set-up involving two kitchen chairs.

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7:45 pm
The knitter gets bored of winding and goes to play on the internet, continuing to ignore the project which remains on the chair, looking a bit lonely.

9:00 pm
The knitter finally finishes winding the yarn, which doesn't actually take that long once she gets going. She attaches it to the end of the old yarn with a spit-splice (but uses soap and water rather than spit, since she finds it works better) and sits down to knit.

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The project has been dormant all day but finally achieves a small measure of progress before it is time for bed.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WIP: Crystalline Socks

I have a WIP to share!

These are Crystalline Socks by Cailyn Meyer. I cast on New Year's Day, according to Ravelry. They hibernated for a while since I needed the needles for a secret gift project. Now that the secret project is done (stay tuned), these are back on the needles.

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I'm really excited about these socks. The stitch pattern is fun to knit - it holds my interest but isn't too complex, and I love watching it develop. It also feels like it goes very quickly. A great choice for variegated yarns, although I'm finding this yarn isn't as garishly variegated as I expected. The yarn is 75% wool / 25% nylon that I dyed using Wiltons icing colours a few years ago, so I'm glad I've finally found a project for it.

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Check out more WIPs at Tami's Blog.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Some knitting and some baking

I've started my 2nd sweater of 2014: Dragonflies, by Joji Locatelli. My goal is to knit two sweaters this year, and I'm optimistic I'll manage it given my progress so far.

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It's going well so far. The lace is more complicated than anything I've done recently, but I'm getting into a rhythm with it, so all is good. I still have to focus entirely on the charts, but I think it will get easier as I go.

Other than knitting, I've been baking. The other day I made pita / pitta for the first time, and it was so awesome.

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Delicious, and surprisingly easy. Will make again. I used a recipe from How to Bake by Paul Hollywood. The pockets are magical. Or maybe it's just yeast that is magical. In any case. Eating fresh, warm pitta with store-bought hummus just made the hummus seem sad, so next time maybe I'll make the hummus as well. (I used to make hummus frequently, but laziness has taken over these days.)

Monday, April 07, 2014

First FO of 2014: Wethersfield Cardigan

My Wethersfield cardigan is my first FO of 2014!

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Pattern: Wethersfield by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

Yarn: Cascade Eco+ in the Pacific colourway.

Mods: Knitted the body way longer than called for, used twisted rib instead of regular 1x1 rib for the hem and collar since I prefer how it looks.

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Notes: Love it.

The pattern was a Ravelry-gift in a holiday pattern swap, and I wanted to start knitting straight away. Even though it is in reasonably thick yarn, the knitting still took a long time, though. My project page claims I started it January 13th and I didn't finish it until April 1st. I just need to accept that sweaters always take me a long time, even when I work on them almost exclusively. (In this case, I did have a few other projects going to distract me, so I certainly was not working on it exclusively. Never mind.)

I'm not used to open-fronted cardigans, and it's actually more open in the front than I was expecting - i.e. I can't really pull it closed at all. But I like it. I've been wearing it almost constantly since it dried. This sweater is very cozy and has been perfect for the particularly grim weather we have been having. Chilly and damp with thick fog - though it seems to be lifting now.

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The cable on the back was lots of fun to knit. The only complaint I have about the pattern is that the cable chart is blurry. I haven't seen anyone else mentioning this on Ravelry, so maybe it's just me and my ancient computer? Some sort of resolution mismatch? In any case, it's blurry on screen and it printed out blurry, so it is difficult to read. I'm familiar enough with standard cable charts at this point that I could figure it out - plus the cables were easy to memorize, so it all worked out fine. I also think it's a bit odd that the pattern abbreviations use one style of abbreviation for the various kinds of cable twist, but the chart uses different abbreviations. I imagine this comes from whatever software was used to make the charts... but it's still a bit strange to see. Anyway, that is stupidly nitpicky and didn't affect my ability to follow the pattern, since I didn't really look at the written instructions for the cables and stuck to the charts. Still, I imagine it might be confusing to a beginner who is just learning how to follow charts. I know when I was learning charts I often referred to the written directions to make sure I understood what I was doing.

This was my first time knitting seamless set-in sleeves from the top down. The body of the sweater is done bottom-up, but then the sleeves are done top-down with short-rows. It is magical! I will do this kind of sleeve again, for sure. I'm really interested in trying some different seamless sleeve cap techniques in the future, since I'm not a huge fan of seaming (big surprise), but sleeve-cap type sleeves seem to fit me quite well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WIP: Wethersfield Cardigan

Here is what I have on the needles at the moment, just in time for spring.

Please note: in reality, the yarn is a deep/bright teal. Not blue. Not turquoise.

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Big, hulking, cozy cardigan. Since Scottish spring often requires coziness, I hope I'll get some use out of it before next year.

This is Wethersfield by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. Twice now, I've seen one of her patterns pop up on my ravelry feed and felt an immediate need to knit it as soon as possible. (First time was with Idlewood). I received the pattern as a Ravelry-gift from one of my internet friends in a holiday-time pattern swap, and cast on in January with Cascade Eco + yarn.

I've been reaching for my Vivian hoodie a lot this autumn/winter/spring, which is made out of Cascade Eco +, so I thought it would be handy to have another sweater in the same yarn. Shortly after I finished knitting Vivian, there was some speedy pilling, and I was a bit disappointed. After years of wear and occasional de-pillings with a razor, it has pretty much stopped pilling - and it has otherwise held up quite well! So I forgive it, and with Wethersfield I know to give it a chance to pill a bit without giving up on it.

I'll say more about the pattern once I've finished, but I just have to say seamless set-in sleeves are magical. Magical! Also, knitting these sleeves two at a time was probably a bad idea - unlike doing socks TAAT, there is no open end, so the yarn gets trapped and wound around and around the sleeve. Ugh. I did not think that one through at all. Unwrapping it is a bit cumbersome, so these sleeves are working up very slowly. Never mind. I'll be glad of it when I finish them both at once.

Check out some more WIPs at Tami's blog for WIP Wednesday.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stashing UP: this month in yarn acquisition

I've never been on an official stash-down - mostly I am fairly restrained in my yarn purchasing, so I haven't felt the need to stop buying yarn entirely just to bring stash down to manageable size. Yet. The last few weeks have really been an exercise in stashing UP, though.

First, I went to the St Abbs Wool Festival at the beginning of March, in the picturesque seaside village of St Abbs in the Scottish Borders. I had never been to this festival before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much awesomeness they managed to pack into the two small venues. It was fabulous. Not only was there yarn aplenty, but there were also loads of amazing buttons, weaving, spinning, and felting. It was also a very sunny, gorgeous day - I managed to forget my camera, but I wish I hadn't!

I came away with a skein of Natural Born Dyers BFL/Nylon High Twist Sock. (And some buttons, but button-stashing is for another post).

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As the company name suggests, the yarn is dyed with natural dyes. I am always astounded to see the range of great colours people can get using this kind of dye. My photo doesn't do it justice at all, of course. It is a semi-solid with many different shades of green.

Then, I received some yarn as a fabulous birthday present. When I heard that SweetGeorgia was going to be at Unravel, a wool festival in Farnham, I made a special request to my mother-in-law, since I knew she would be attending the festival as an exhibitor. I've drooled over SweetGeorgia yarns on the internet for a long time without committing to purchasing any, and I'd never seen it in person - MIL got me a skein of Cashluxe Fine, which is Merino/Cashmere/Nylon sock yarn. It is quite possibly the softest thing I have ever touched. Amazing! For once, the colour (Wisteria) is pretty accurate in the photo:

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As if that weren't enough yarn for a year, never mind a month, I went on a Yarn Crawl this past weekend with my knitting group. Edinburgh has had an explosion of independent yarn shops in the last couple of years, so why not try to visit them all in a day? Sounds like a plan! (I even brought my camera along to document the proceedings, and then got so distracted by the pretties that I didn't take any pictures. Oops.) We ended up visiting four shops, missing out the two department stores that have yarn, and one of the larger shops - otherwise we wouldn't have had enough time. We also feasted on delicious Malaysian food, ate gelato outside in the cold wind, and ended up in a pub. (As you do.) But! As may be expected, yarn came home with me.

Our first yarn stop was Be Inspired Fibres, a beautiful shop that opened last summer. Shamefully, I hadn't been to visit yet - however, I'm sure I will be back frequently. Despite vocally vowing to stick to my plan for the day, which was to buy yarn for a sweater and not random skeins of pretty sock yarn, I failed at the first shop. Some Malabrigo Sock called to me and I could not leave without it.

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The colourway is Aguas - watery blue-gray-greens that are more complex than pictured. (Truly, it is very different than the Natural Born Dyers' skein pictured above, even if the photos deny it.) This may seem like blasphemy, but I've never worked with Malabrigo Sock before. It's obviously incredibly soft, but it seems more substantial than I was expecting, given Malabrigo's reputation for buttered-kitten-softness. (This substantialness is a very good thing, in my books.) Anyway. There is no way I am making socks out of something this soft and pretty, but more on that another time.

I didn't buy anything at the next two stops (K1 Yarns, and Kathy's Knits), although Kathy's Knits in particular is a favourite destination of mine for sweater yarn.

Then at our final stop, I finally got my sweater quantity that I had planned on:

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Five skeins of Brigantia Luxury Double Knit, from Ginger Twist Studio, a shop that despite its small physical size manages to stock a huge range of fascinating yarns. (All of us on the yarn crawl fit in at once, but just barely!) I have never used this yarn before, but the colours are fantastic, and it feels sturdy enough for my sweater-knitting needs, so I have high hopes for it.

Phew. It has been a while since I acquired so much yarn in such a short period of time, and it's a bit overwhelming! I'm excited about all these things, and some of them I have immediate plans for, so they won't linger in the stash for too long. Still, these acquisitions have made me realise that a good portion of my stash is just stash without any plans attached. I might need to remedy that soon.