Sunday, April 26, 2015

FO: Kuura

Blocking lace always amazes me. Intellectually, I know how it works - how a short bath and some stretching and pinning can drastically change knitted fabric. But I really wasn't expecting my nice, thick, cushy polwarth/silk blend handspun to transform from this:


into this:


The drape! Clearly the silk is doing its job here. I had been envisioning a cozy neck warmer and wasn't expecting this slinky little piece to come off the blocking wires.



The striping in the handspun works really well with this pattern. (Note to self for future handspun projects).

Pattern: Kuura
Yarn: polwarth/silk 2-ply handspun (418 yards/4oz). I used all but maybe a yard of the skein.
Needles: size 6
Mods: Kuura comes with two lace charts - a simple base for the shawl body and a lacier version for the edging. Using this project as inspiration, I had planned to flip the charts (using the edging chart for the body and the body chart for the edging). But I ran out of yarn before I was ready to work an edging section so I just stopped after an eyelet row and worked the lacier chart throughout. I had been debating whether I had enough yarn to work an extra row and then use a sewn bind-off but didn't want to chance it. Instead I used k2tog through the back of the loop bind-off and it came out just fine.

I loved knitting this one (the handspun was a dream to work with). Now for the real test: will I wear it? It's not exactly office appropriate. And it's a bit too delicate for weekend wear (I have two small kids, after all). Who knows, maybe Tadpole will put in a request for it next fall. She was having fun with it during our photo shoot.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Yellow and Green




Yellow is a big hit in our household - it's Tadpole's favorite color. So it was no surprise that when she and I were looking at yarn a few months ago for a new sweater for her, she automatically picked a bright yellow for her Wee Wildflower. The last sweater I knit her was a dud (I don't think she's worn it voluntarily). But to say this one's a hit would be the understatement of the year.


(I think that's supposed to be a pirate face.)



For starters, she stayed relatively still and looked in the general direction of the camera while wearing it, which almost never happens. And she wears it all the time. Voluntarily!

I used Quince & Co. Finch for this one (three skeins and a little bit for a size 4/6 hybrid). My gauge was a bit looser than the recommended yarn so I was able to follow the size 4 directions to get a roughly size 6 sweater. I think it'll still fit this fall (fingers crossed).


The pockets come in handy! I asked her the other day whether she wanted another sweater and the response was "Yes, please. In bright yellow." I have my eye on this pattern (maybe even matching sweaters for the girls). Yarn thoughts? I'm tempted to go with another Quince yarn but am all ears for suggestions.

I've also started my KAL sweater. This was my swatch:


I had read a blog post a few weeks ago mentioning not just knitting a sleeve as a swatch but dunking the whole thing (needles and all) to see how the fabric changes after wet blocking and thought that would be perfect for this sweater. (In case you're wondering, Addi lace needles do just fine getting dropped in the sink.)

By this point in my sleeve/swatch, I was pretty sure that I'd need to frog the whole thing and start over. The ribbing at the bottom wasn't as tidy as I wanted. The tubular cast-on edge looked a bit loose and wonky. And the color work section seemed to be pulling in too much to maintain the even tension I needed.

But I hadn't realized what miracles wet blocking would work on this yarn.


After a soak in the sink, the yarn fulled ever so slightly to create a beautiful, soft fabric. All of a sudden my ribbing looked cleaner (not perfect, but something I can live with). The cast on edge looked tighter. And I was able to gently massage the color work section into roughly the the same gauge as the stockinette portion.  (Look at the right edge of the sleeve in the picture above - the increases on the left make it difficult to judge the line).

Dare I say I'm hoping the weather stays cool enough I'll get to wear this one at least once this spring?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Because


Our snow is all gone; crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are starting to make an appearance; and I'm ready to break out my brand new cowl.

Something seems a bit off here. Not the cowl - it's lovely - but this year in particular I'm having trouble keeping my knitting in sync with the seasons.


In my defense, it was bitterly cold in January when I started this one. My second Scrollwork feels wonderful. I used 1.25 (ish) skeins of Malabrigo Rios so I have plenty left in the stash to work the matching hat and whip up some coordinating mitts. I used the same needles as last time: size 4 for the top ribbing and 7 for the main part of the cowl. I had been planning to work up the hat right away but, given the weather, I'll put that one on the back burner for a while.

Instead, I'm going to start a new sweater. Because March is the perfect time to start a fingering weight stranded color work sweater? Because.


Rachel and I have been throwing around ideas for a Wool People KAL for a few weeks now and we've both settled on yoked designs in BrooklynTweed yarn. I've had the Stasis Pullover on my mental list for a while and I already had the main color in my stash. Let's just say Rachel didn't need to twist my arm before I went ahead and ordered the contrast color. Does it count as a new yarn purchase if it helps you use 5 skeins from the stash?

If I'm being perfectly honest, I'm actually about to start two sweaters. I've wanted to make Gable since it first came out and I found the perfect sweatshirt-sweater yarn: Quince & Co. chickadee heather.


Now I just need to finish up Tadpole's (belated) birthday sweater. Two fingering weight sweaters in March may be questionable ambitious. Three is a bit much, even in my book


 Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some sleeves to finish.

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!