Sunday, March 1, 2015

Repeat

I don't often knit multiple iterations of the same pattern but my two go-to projects right now are repeats. Sounds like I'll need to add Scrollwork and Wee Wildflower to my go-to project list (joining Habitat and Pomander Baby Cardigan - two of my absolute favorite patterns).


I had a hard time giving up my mom's Scrollwork set so I cast on for a similar cowl for myself several weeks ago using a different colorway of Malabrigo Rios (Vaa, probably my favorite of all of the Malabrigo colors). I had picked this for date night movie knitting and cast on during the car ride to the theater. I was pretty good about keeping to the ribbing pattern but got hopelessly off kilter partway through the movie (Selma, which was fantastic) and set this one aside for a while in the hopes that if I ignored it long enough, my mistakes would just fix themselves. Unfortunately, that didn't happen but I only had to rework parts of the ribbing and didn't have to frog the bit I had started.

I started knitting on the train again last week and now the cowl is really moving along. I should knit on the train more often!


This next piece was better movie knitting. Last week I was here:


After a date night to go see Kingsmen (good but not great) I was ready to bind off for the arm holes.


I finished the left front this afternoon and, while I don't think I'll have a finished sweater ready for Tadpole's birthday later this week, I should be able to have it ready during her birthday month.

I bound off my Luna Viridian cowl sometime in the last week or so, too. I can't put this one in the finished pile yet since it still needs blocking. I'm not enamored of the shape in its umblocked state so I doubt I'll feel inspired to block it any time soon. It looks uninspiring on me but pretty nice on the girls. (Sprout has insisted that this one go to her.)


I've added it to the "needs blocking" pile, tucked away behind my desk along with this lovely scarf.


I'll get around to blocking one of these days, probably when I figure out how to look good in a silvery grey.

In the meantime, I finally finished laying out the squares for my half-square triangle sampler quilt!


I even had a helper while picking the squares back up. They're all in order and I just have to remember what system I used when stacking everything up into a single pile. Wish me luck!


It'll probably be a while before I finish this one (and I'm nervous about cutting long straight pieces of fabric for the borders so I may procrastinate for a while on that step). But while I still had momentum, I put the first block together this evening.


The points aren't all perfect but this still looks pretty good to me.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Birthday Sweater


Sprout turned one last week (I have no idea where the last year has gone - somewhere between work and sleep deprivation, probably). And in honor of her birthday, I finished up a sweater for the son of a dear friend of mine who had turned one in January.

Pattern: Lucky (you)
Size: 2T
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios (2 skeins)
Needles: size 6 and 7 addi lace circulars

Sprout helped me with the FO shots (and confirmed that I had worked the right size).


This sweater is all about big squishy cables, which look fantastic in Rios. I don't remember using a cable needle on this one (see earlier comment on sleep deprivation) so I'm pretty sure even the largest crosses are doable without a cable needle.

And did you see that zipper in the first picture? I won't make you scroll back up - here it is again:


I'm enormously proud of it. I should be - I sewed in a zipper about 4 times on this project. Ok, maybe 2 and a half. But that's still 1 and a half times more than you really want to do.

Note to self - check to see if the zipper is a separating zipper before sewing it all the way in. That put me back a couple of hours (you'll notice I said "a" zipper rather than "the" zipper above).

I hadn't planned to use a zipper in the first place but I ran out of yarn about halfway down the second sleeve and, since I had bought the yarn over a year ago, I doubted I'd be able to find any that matched. So I had to borrow some from somewhere. Half the button band got me to the cuff and then stealing a few rows from the other cuff let me get two full sleeves.

Second note to self - yarn does not magically regenerate. 

When I see that I'm running out of yarn, I tend to set the project aside and hope that if I don't look at it directly, more yarn will somehow appear. My knitting life would be so much easier if I just frogged the first sleeve cuff right away and got the piece out of my WIP pile. Somehow stealing yarn from the button band doesn't seem quite as traumatizing as ripping back the sleeves so this zipper trick may be my saving grace. Especially now that I have lots of practice at sewing in zippers.

Third note to self - try to buy enough yarn next time. Maybe it's time to check out the stashbot app.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Pretend

The other day, I came across the ultimate "grass is greener" picture - a young family that had moved to Maine to try their hand at farming (all captured in glorious, natural light photos, no less). I sat at my computer and had a 15-second pity party for myself. You see, for that brief moment, I wasn't content with my great family, challenging and stimulating job that pays enough to support us, and comfortable house in a nice town. I wanted to be the kind of person who crafts in the middle of the day in sun-filled rooms and takes beautiful pictures of her domestic pursuits. And then I realized that I can do that - at least on the blog. So this weekend, when the sun came out I ran and grabbed the camera. I even knit a bit during daylight hours (very rare for me these days) while Tadpole and I watched the animated Hobbit during her sister's nap.

I know how important it is for many bloggers to acknowledge all of the effort behind the images they share with the world. But that's not what you're going to find here. Only a masochist would enjoy hearing me catalog the number of late nights I've worked after putting the kids to bed or the mental debate between trying to sneak in a bit of exercise and getting something that might resemble a reasonable night's sleep. That's all there in the background but not something I want to focus on here. Instead, welcome to a heavily edited glimpse into the small part of my life where I get to be one of those people who crafts in a sun-lit room.

Here we go...

I've been on a cowl kick lately. Not so much knitting them as favoriting patterns on ravelry right and left looking for just the right one. While I'm on the lookout for the perfect combination of cables (I'll let you know when I see it), I'm having a blast trying one of the hybrid cowl/shawl patterns from Hillary Smith Callis. I've just reached the part of the Luna Viridis pattern where you join the stitches for working in the round and I'm curious to see how the shaping turns out.


The yarn is tosh merino light (leftovers from when I had knit my Color Affection ages ago). It's a lovely green so you'll understand why I want to wrap this up and knit a bit before calling it a night.

But before I go, I think I've found the perfect baby gift knit: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surplice Jacket.


This is the same sweater she wore home from the hospital. What other baby pattern do you know that fits as well at 11 months as it did at 11 days?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ramblings


I wasn't planning to knit anything for the holidays this year but I ended up knitting three xmas gifts (technically four, since I made a matching hat and cowl for my mother). In reverse order of finishes, mum got the Scrollwork hat and cowl set worked in Malabrigo Rios.


The cables are fantastic, the instructions clear, and the fit of the cowl is great for cold, windy days. And Rios is a delightful yarn to knit with. Although I have to confess that after binge-listening to the knit.fm podcast over the last couple of weeks and hearing Pam Allen discuss all of the nasty chemicals that go into making a wool yarn super wash, I'm a bit put off the idea of buying more at this point. Probably a good thing for my stash.

Anyway, Rios seemed to be my go-to yarn for knitted gifts this season since I also used it to whip up a Lacunae hat for my grandfather. I had worked a similar hat for Mr. Tinks and Frogs several years ago and decided to support the designer and actually purchase the pattern this time around since I didn't want to think too hard about the crown shaping. I should have just unvented the pattern again since I ended up working the crown shaping three times before finding something that would fit an average man-sized head.

To distract you from the fact that I don't have a good picture of that one, let me show you my sister's present, fetchingly modeled by Tadpole:


It actually looks half-way decent on me, too.


This is Shibui's Pebble/Peak Hat worked in Shubui Pebble held double. I cannot say enough good things about this yarn (except for maybe the price point, which is actually quite reasonable when you consider the fiber content). And the hat pattern is delightful - an interesting twisted rib pattern at the hem, several inches of stockinette you can zoom through, finished off with some clever grafting at the top.

Having been so productive with my holiday knitting, I really wanted to treat myself to something special. I'd been eyeing Gable from the latest Wool People and thought I'd try it in the Knitspot Stone Soup Fingering, which had recently come into my LYS. I eagerly picked out a color and brought some skeins home. Unusual for me, I sat right down to wind the first skein so that I could start swatching and ended up with this:


That's right, 19 separate segments of yarn were wound together into the skein. Let's just say I won't be trying that yarn again for a while. I'm very grateful for how gracefully my LYS handled the situation and let me return all four skeins. But doesn't change the sour taste I have from the whole experience and fact that I desperately want to be knitting a sweater right now (a sweater for me, that is). Anyway, I can take a hint - no sweaters for me for the time being.

So I went back to my trusty Rios and started up some more gift knitting. I love the cushy cables!


Now I just need to find the time to finish the piece and pop it in the mail. 

Time is always short around here but I've been making some for my newest crafty pursuit. Thanks to a blissful four-hour quilting extravaganza (courtesy of Mr. Tinks and Frogs for wrangling the girls and sending me out the door last weekend), I finished squaring up what must have been hundreds of half-square triangles and started laying out blocks.


I think I'm in love. Now I just need to lay out the last row of squares and start piecing everything together. Bets on how long that will take?

And I've been practicing my free motion quilting. Tadpole and I went to my favorite fabric store together a couple of weeks ago and she asked if I would make a quilt for one of her toys. How could I resist? So she's getting a mini quilt with all-over pebble free motion quilting using fabrics and thread that she picked out.


It's by no means perfect but I'm definitely seeing progress. Now if only I could figure out how to keep the thread from breaking while I'm working. Maybe I'll come up with an answer by the time I finish this piece. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy

Did I finish the mittens I mentioned last time? Yes, yes I did. I can't remember the last time a knitting FO has made me this happy.



Pattern: Snowfling Mitts by Tanis Lavalle
Yarns: Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK Weight and Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere Sock (I bought them as a kit here)
Needle: size 3 circular for magic loop


Cashmere lined mittens, where have you been all my life?

The mitts were fun to knit and (when I actually sat down to work on them) pretty quick, all things considered. The linings - essentially a second pair of mittens attached to the first - worked up much more quickly than I expected. It's no wonder I have my eye on the new mitten kit available from Tanis Fiber Arts.

I'm pretty pleased with my new sweater, too.



Pattern: Rocky Coast Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: Sundara Yarn Aran Merino
Needles: size 7 for the body, size 6 for the ribbing

I ended up working the sleeves flat after discovering that even with alternating skeins, the stitch counts on the sleeves caused some truly horrendous flashing. Once I'd acknowledged the fact that I needed to frog several inches worth of sleeve to see if I could get the colors to play nicely together, the sleeves flew right by.

This was my first time working with the Sundara yarn and I'm not sure I would use it again. I'd be tempted by a less variegated color but each skein had at least one knot and the yarn is already pilling. (To be fair on that last point, I've worn the sweater every weekend since I finished it so it's seeing a fair amount of wear.)


The shape - an open front raglan cardigan - was perfect for a post-baby body. 

I find myself drawn to more fitted pullovers and I'm itching to try Custom Fit (Amy Herzog's program that fits sweater patterns to your measurements). But I don't particularly want to make a sweater to fit my current measurements. My next commitment to a sweater will come after I've made a commitment to the treadmill. Sadly, knitting is not an aerobic exercise.

Especially when one has recently discovered Nantucket Cranberry Pie (i.e., cranberry sauce with a sugar cookie baked on top). If, like me, you had an extra bag of cranberries sitting in the fridge after Thanksgiving, then you may need this recipe to help polish it off. It's quite good with fresh whipped cream on top. Don't ask me how I know.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fall Sweaters

Has it really been almost two months since I last touched the blog? It's been snowing this week and I realized that I had better share some fall sweater pics before winter fully arrives and the leaves in the background look completely out of place.

Sprout has been sporting a bevy of hand knits this season, only one of which is not a hand-me-down:


The pattern is the delightful Wee Wildflower, worked in MadelineTosh pashmina (a truly fantastic yarn). I don't recall what size I worked - probably 12 months, rather than 6 - but I remembered to pull the sweater out just in the nick of time before Sprout outgrew it. Instead of working the sleeves flat and then sewing them onto the body, I picked up stitches around the edge of the armscye and worked short rows to shape the sleeve cap before knitting the sleeves top-down. This let me eek out every last inch of yarn for roughly bracelet-length sleeves.


Where would we be without an FO shot involving Sprout eating grass?

Just because I haven't been cranking out new baby knits doesn't mean the little one is deprived of a lovely set of sweaters to wear. Remember this one?


Tadpole's Purple Sweater has been a big hit with Sprout, too.


I pulled out another old favorite last weekend. It never ceases to amaze me how much Sprout looks like her sister did at this age.


Sprout isn't the only one with a new sweater this fall - I finished one for myself, too! And by the time I get back to posting about the sweater, I may have even finished my new mittens.


Did I mention that they're lined with cashmere? I can't wait either.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Double Trouble (or, adventures in getting two small children to smile for the camera)

Something about finishing that shawl a little while ago has set of a finishing frenzy (full disclosure: no, I haven't mailed it yet). I wrapped up a sweater for each of the girls and managed to get pictures of both of them wearing their new sweaters at the same time. I should have bought a lottery ticket because that never happens around here.

First up: my baby version of Amy Miller's Princess Fiona pattern for Sprout.


Next, a basic raglan for Tadpole with the raglan decreases hidden in a braid cable.


I really tried to get good pictures of the girls together in their new sweaters. And I usually managed to get a good shot of one but the other was either acting up or melting down. Like this one -


Tadpole looks fantastic and is actually smiling for the camera but Sprout is just done with the situation and is about to wail.

We went outside and had a rollicking time trying to get the girls to look in the same direction at once. Art direction went something like, "Tadpole, look at the camera!" and "Sprout, don't eat the grass!" Someone is constitutionally incapable of staying on her back these days. Anyway, it gave me a push to add "learn to adjust the shutter speed on my camera" to my to do list. (Yes, that list is about three miles long at this point.)

Back to the sweaters. I managed to eek a full-sleeved sweater for Tadpole out of my single 400 yard skein of worsted weight yarn. How? Dumb luck. The sleeves were narrow and that is what saved me - I had about 12 inches left after I finished the i-cord bind-of on the second cuff.


The raglan cables really are my favorite part of this sweater. A close second is the contrast between the seed stitch body and the stockinette sleeves. Such a great mix of textures -- perfect for the subtle shading in the skein.

I had thought to do a baby version for Sprout using the orange yarn you can see above but the seed stitch that didn't seem so bad worked in worsted weight was mind numbing when worked in a fingering weight yarn. So instead I did this:


A top-down stockinette pullover with bracelet sleeves, a placket at the back, and an interesting lace detail at the side (not that you can see it here).


Better now? I may have swatched on this one to figure out my stitch gauge. I don't think there was too much thought behind the initial cast-on (I went with the number of stitches that looked "about right," however you want to define that very technical term). The placket was thrown in so that I didn't have to worry about whether I had made the neck opening too small. Raglan sleeves were a similar choice: they generally fit without any fussing with the proportions. I threw in a slight a-line shape to the body to make sure there was plenty of room and ripped back the bottom hem when I needed some extra yardage to finish the sleeves.


If I were to do it again, I'd change the proportions of the back/front and sleeves at the top of the sweater to make the sleeves narrower and the back/front wider. That said, I'm pretty pleased with this one.


And Sprout is, too.