Sunday, July 12, 2015

More sewing than knitting


Rachel has already finished her KAL sweater but I'm still plugging away at the yoke on mine. After miles of stockinette, I'm having a blast with the color work.

I had some extra time over the holiday weekend and put together a dress for Tadpole that I've had my eye on for the last year:



This is the Geranium pattern from Made by Rae. Once I have another kiddo project or two under my belt, I'm itching to try some of her adult patterns.

For the life of me, I couldn't get the buttonhole stitch to work on my machine (not the first time that I've tried to talk myself into the necessity of trading up my machine on a whim). After much grumbling, Tadpole and I embarked on a trek to Joann Fabrics. She came away with a bright rainbow button and I had a nifty little tool for putting in snaps.

That same weekend, my local quilt shop called to say they were done quilting my quilt! I've attached the binding by machine but am sewing the reverse side by hand. It's by no means a fast process but I'm nevertheless enjoying both the process and the emerging product. Can't wait to see this one finished!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

[Untitled]



I seem to have fallen off the blogging bandwagon lately. A combination of only knitting a few stitches here and there late at night before going to bed (trust me, pictures of gradually lengthening green tubes are just not that interesting) and often choosing to work on a project rather than write about it have kept me away from the computer.

Even though the knit-blogging juices haven't been flowing, I've really enjoyed playing with my camera this summer. These top two shots are from our trek to the arboretum yesterday. There was a wonderful moment when the wind picked up just as I was trying to capture a shot of the echinacea and Tadpole exclaimed, "Don't worry, mommy, I'll hold it for you!" as she lunged in front of me to hold a flower stem still. (For the record, the pic above was taken after the wind died down).


Our garden is an endless source of delight this season. I'm especially fond of the sugar snap peas (even if they persist in growing out into the air rather than up the trellis I thoughtfully provided this year). I'm hoping I planted enough that some of the pea pods will make it into the house before I eat them.


The kale is looking terrific this year and the girls are eager to turn it into kale chips.


Hopefully this will turn into more zucchini bread than we know what to do with. I was good this year and (mostly) obeyed the spacing suggestions for the various veggies we planted, which explains my overflow pumpkin patch in the corner of the back yard.

So, if I haven't been single-mindedly focused on my Stasis sweater, what have I been doing? For starters, I finished a quilt top:


It's a night-time cell phone shot but I was (am) so incredibly proud of this one. Honestly, cutting the long straight pieces for the sashing and borders was the scariest part for me since no matter how careful I am, I'm amazed at how imprecise my cutting can be.

I'm getting this one quilted at my local quilt shop and will get it back sometime next month. Then I'll just need to put the binding on and convince Tadpole that it's mine, not hers.

With the big quilt top done, I wanted something quick and easy to piece together so I could practice some more free motion quilting. Yesterday, I cut some fat quarters into 6" squares and played with the layout until I settled on an arrangement I liked (a very methodical random assortment).


Tadpole thought placing the squares was pretty fun, too. Staying up a bit later than I should have, I pieced the top last night:


Now I just have to figure out how to quilt it. Pebbles? Free-motion lines? A combination of the two? Quilt alternating blocks and leave the others open? Clearly I still have some thinking to do.

I also need to start thinking about fall sweaters for the girls so I can start them in time to finish before fall. It was chilly enough for sweaters a couple of weeks ago and the girls were happy to model for the camera.



I could have sworn those sleeves were longer!

Tadpole has requested a sweater with "flowers and lots of buttons." Any suggestions for a girl's cardigan with flower motifs? I have several thoughts for Sprout but nothing has coalesced into a workable idea yet. It's only June - plenty of time to let the design ideas percolate a bit longer (and finish my own sweater.

In the meantime, I've just joined the sleeves to the body of my Stasis pullover and have plenty to keep me busy. Another inch or two of stockinette before things get interesting again. I'm looking forward to the colorwork yoke!

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.