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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Urchin

The last of the projects that I finished early last year, before I even moved, was Urchin by Ysolda Teague. This is one of Ysolda's very early patterns from the 2007 Fall Knitty. The reason I chose to make it is the unique construction. It's knit vertically around your head and joined when you have the needed circumferences, rather than starting circularly and knitting from the brim to the top.


I HATE that the brim is folded under in all my pictures. I think it looks crazy. One of the problems with getting a non-knitter without much enthusiasm for hand-mades to take your photos... They're more concerned with snapping the shots and getting out of the cold than with making sure you have awesome photos for Ravelry. Some people's priorities are so out of whack. 


(I also wish I had been told about that one straggly strand of hair, it would have been so easy to tuck into the hat. Sigh. First world problems.) I knit the smallest size which makes a much more beanie style hat than the beret shape that the larger sizes tend to form. All in all it took two days of knitting to make this (and I probably only spent 2-3 hours each day.) Nevermind that Ravelry says it took me a week to make. That's just a product of the fact that last year was so bad for me knitting-wise. 

I used a fun yarn by Colinette called Calligraphy. The colorway is call Gaughin.  It's a loosely spun thick-thin yarn that's a bulky 100% wool. It wasn't bad to work with and the project came out nice, but I don't feel anything more than "meh" for the yarn. Cute, serviceable, but I'm not losing my mind over it. I would use it again if I found a pattern I thought it would compliment, but I'm not going out of my way to stash it (unlike Madelinetosh which I aggressively horde incase of an unexpected sheep apocalypse.)  


Honestly, I can't tell you how this has held up over the past year because... I don't know where it is! I know, I know. Losing hand knits sucks. All that work, the expense of the yarn, the memories of what was going on in my life as I was making it. It sucks. I'm a serial hand-knit loser though... mittens, hats, scarves, I just can't seem to hold on to woolies. I'm going to have to either get my sh*t together and keep track of my things, or adopt a more zen mentality about losing them. Le sigh. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Persephone

Every knitter had those meh projects. Projects you work and work on, and when you finish you look down and just think... eh... not for me. Persephone was that way for me. I taught a class last March about cables and this was the featured project. The original is a scarf, but I got so tired of the cables after about two feet that I turned mine into a a cowl with buttons.


I should have known I was never going to be able to finish a whole scarf in this pattern. 1) I dislike knitting scarves in general because they feel like never-ending swatches. 2) I dislike scarf patters that are not reversible because I am anal and the fact that the "wrong" side shows drives me bonkers. 3) I dislike heavily cabled projects because they make my hands crampy when I knit them. 4) This pattern is not charted, it is only written, and I strongly prefer to  All of these things and problems related to my personal knitting preferences, not problems with the pattern.


 I didn't write down my modifications, but they were dead easy. Basically I stopped knitting the body after 2 feet or so and then in the final garter stitch portion I threw in a row with 3 evenly spaced button holes, then finished the garter stitch portion. Then I played around with the best placement for the buttons and decided I liked the "folded over" look. I sewed on the buttons and ta-da. 

The yarn is Madelinetosh DK (I know, you're not surprised) in Moorland. It blocks out in cables amazingly! Their plied yarns are not the softest (except for Pashmina) but they have amazing stitch definition and they are plied nice and tight so they wear forever without looking ratty the way that some yarns get after a while. Basically the yarn was fantastic, but I still feel meh about the finished project.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oh Hai

Ah hem hem... So hey... How's it going? Been a while... Almost a year you say? My how time flies. I feel like I should say I'm sorry, but really I'm not. The last year has brought a lot of changes to my life. I don't even think I mentioned it in my last post, but when I wrote it (February of 2013, I know...) I had just gotten my first job as an attorney 5 days before the post. I was commuting a long way to work every day and felt just exhausted by the end of the day. It's hard to even imagine, but really I stopped knitting from pretty much February through July. Dark days.

Ryan and I stopped being a couple in May, and that was sad. In July I moved closer to work. Sadly, closer to work meant further from a lot of other things, including my knitting group. While I had my suspicions early on, by July I was feeling like my job was not a great fit for me (that's the extremely reserved, internet appropriate, way to describe how I was feeling anyway...) By late October I decided a new job needed to be at the top of my priority list and by the end of November I had an offer on the table. Mid-December I started my new job (still attorney work, just a much different office atmosphere) and it's been fabulous so far.

The new job came with the caveat that I would have to take the Washington state Bar exam. Portland being so close to Washington, my new office does a lot of work in both states so I need to be dual licensed. If you're thinking now that my miraculous return to blogging may have something to do with procrastinating studying for a test that is one month away... Shut up.

Look. Knitting.


That is the extremely popular Selbu Modern hat by Kate Gagnon Osborne. It is available for free on Ravelry. I had wanted to make it for a very long time. When I started teaching a series of hat classes at my LYS focusing on different techniques, I chose this hat as the colorwork-focused class project. 



The yarn I used was Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace and Clematis. Antique Lace has got to be one of my favorite Madelinetosh colors. It's sort of a boring neutral, but something about it is so enticing to me. Of course, I love pretty much everything Madelinetosh so maybe it's not very surprising that this was so enjoyable for me. Even being knit on tiny needles (US 0 and US 2) this was a very fast knit for me. 


Sadly, that hat was knit last January, and I'm just now getting around to showing it to you. It's kept me nice and warm for two winters now and it's the hat I grab above my others if I can find it... I am not high-functioning in the morning, so it's good I have so many hats--there's usually one that's within grabbing range as I'm leaving the house. On the other hand, it's probably good I have a few projects back-logged, since it will give me things to show you on a semi-regular basis as I get back into my knitting groove. Feels good to be back.   

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Swallowtail

So the stashdown is not going exactly as planned. As of February I have increased my stash by 191,969 - 191,682 = 287 yards. Now, when you take into account that I acquired TWO sweater's worth of yarn in January, it's clear I actually moved a lot out of my stash, to only increase by 287 yards.

Also, I should point out, I didn't pay for any of the yarn. One sweater's worth was part of my birthday present from Ryan. The other was purchased by my dad because the sweater will be for him.

One of the projects that helped me move some yardage out (about 500 yards) was my Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A Clark. I loved every minute of making this.

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I mentioned before, the first time I made this pattern early in my knitting career, it was a bit too hard and I found the experience unpleasant because I was making so many mistakes and having to tink back hundreds of lace stitches fairly often.  This time it was completely smooth sailing. 

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Forgive my bleary face, I had just woken up.

I prefer to wear this pinned with one of my shawl pins. The one in the picture is my favorite. It's from Plover Designs, a local Portland craftswoman. I have several from her. 

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The yarn I used is Malabrigo's new Rastita line. It's made the same way as their super chunky Rasta, but in a DK weight. It's a 100% merino wool single ply, but the single has been slightly felted to cut down on fuzziness and make it a bit stronger. The color I used is called Cereza. It was a complete joy to work with. 

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Now I'm working on a heavily cabled cowl. It's slow going because of all the cables, and also not going to move that much yardage out of my stash, but after it's done, I'll be starting a sweater and that should clear a good 1,200 yards. On the other hand, our Madelinetosh order is due in at the shop any day...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Braids

When we were trying to decide on the winter class schedule at the shop, I pitched a series of classes that we are calling the "Heritage Series." Each class focuses on an design element or traditional knitting style from various regions around the globe. Think Irish cables, Estonian lace, Andean colored hats, Norwegian Selbu styles, Swedish bohus designs. One of the coolest things about it is that there are thousands of potential class topics.

My first class in the series is coming up this Thursday, and it is going to focus on knitting traditional Latvian braids. The project for the class is Simple Braided Mitts by Nicole Clark. Mine look like this:

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The braid is cleverly constructed by twisting your yarns around each other on the outside (right side) of your work. I love that they look nothing like "normal" knitting. I have been wearing them around the shop a lot and get tons of people asking me if I braided it and sewed it on afterward. 

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I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in colorways 340002 and 340039 (I hate it when colors don't have actual names.) The yarn is a nice blend of 55% wool, 33% microfiber, and 12% cashmere. If you dislike working with splitty yarns, this is not the yarn for you. It will split if you don't watch it vigilantly. I didn't mind it, but I think I have a very high tolerance. I also work with Spud and Chloe Fine a lot which is frequently accused of being splitty. 

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My mitts have fuzzed up a bit with the constant wear they have been getting lately, but nothing that I would call actual "pilling." I made the size small, which in hindsight was a mistake. The sizes are listed as S, M, L. I have very small hands for a woman, so I made the small. I think in reality the sizes are more in line with "Child, Woman, Man." When I bound off, the entire mitt fit in the palm of my hand. Thankfully I had used a ver stretchy cast on and bind off, and a VERY aggressive blocking rendered them wearable. 

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I did find a few math errors in the pattern. It's a free pattern and the errors were easy to spot, so I am forgiving. There are incorrect numbers in the pattern concerning the thumb. If you do as instructed to increase the thumb gusset, then all of the numbers in the “Set Thumb Aside” section should be increased by one: they should be 6 (7, 8). All of the instructions for the thumb should have the same changes. The final number of stitches for your thumb will be 14 (16, 18).
Overall, a very enjoyable knit. It only took me about 3 evenings to whip these puppies up and I have enough yarn left over to make a second pair. (I won't, because I don't like making the same pattern twice, but I could.) If you're in the Portland/Beaverton area and want to learn how to make Latvian braids, there are still a few spots in the class

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Iced Hat

I couldn't quite muster the oomph to blog yesterday. I was doing too much actual knitting. I have four sweaters at various stages in progress right now and I'm trying to bust out the bulky one. It grew by 5 inches yesterday.  Bulky yarn is my friend.

But that's not what I'm here to tell you about. Five inches of stockinette is not that interesting. Cables are interesting and boy do I have some cables for you.

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That, my friends, is Iced Hat by Irina Dmitrieva. I bought her whole Cabled Hats 3 collection the minute I saw it. They are all lovely cable-y  masterpieces. So many cables, some rounds have as many as 36 cables per round.

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I'm teaching a whole series of classes at For Yarn's Sake about hats that feature different techniques. This was the project for Hats: Cables. There will also be Hats: Color, Hats: Short Rows, and Hats: Lace. (Can you tell I like hats?)

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I made mine out of Rowan Felted Tweed in the color "150". Felted Tweed is 50% merino, 25% alpaca, and 25% vsicose. It's a little crunchy when you're knitting with it, but it softens up SO much when you wash it. It also weighs next to nothing. Each 50g ball has 198 yards! I got the whole hat out of one ball.  It's light and airy to wear but still nice and warm because of the merino and alpaca.

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I blocked mine around an 11" dinner plate to get a nice beret shape. Looking at the projects on Ravelry, it looks like quite a few people have left it in more of a beanie shape. It looks cute both ways. I've had it done for about 3 weeks and I've worn it about 15 times. 

I am still dutifully reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell but I've thrown in an audiobook of Black Sun Rising by C. S. Friedman to give myself something a little more exciting. It's the perfect sort of blend between Science Fiction and Fantasy, if you're into that sort of thing. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Skew

For a while I was knitting Skew by Lana Holden. I've loved the pattern ever since I saw it in the Winter 2009 Knitty. I especially love the versions that I've seen in self striping yarn.

When a Skein of Cannon Hand Dyes Jane Self Striping yarn in the colorway Love's Labor Lost came into my possession via the awesome Laurie, I knew it would become Skew eventually.

Eventually, has turned out to be right. Since September I'm....

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That far. Which is to say, not far. As a bouns, on my left foot you can see my icky surgery scar from the 2008 osteotomy (aka the Great Foot Straightening), and on my left foot you can see my hairy big toe. Sexy Lady. 

An interloper (or several) came between me and these lovely socks and I haven't made it back to them. Also, since I've been working at the yarn shop during the regular sock hour, I don't have that time set aside to dedicate to them anymore. I really do need to give my neglected WIPs some love. They're all projects I like. I'm just... easily distracted.

Speaking of easily distracted, on the reading front I'm STILL reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke. I do like the book, I really do, but I keep putting it down for sexier, flashier, quicker reads. According to Goodreads, I started reading this in March... and according to my Kindle (which I have named Anthony because it's fun to call things by a proper name) I'm only 40% through. Now it's about 1,000 pages so 40% is like reading two little books, but still... Also, the last 10% or so of the book is footnotes, and I've read a lot of the footnotes already, but they don't count in the 40% since it measures from the page you are on looking back. I like it when I flip to the footnotes and it tells me I'm 96% done. A girl can dream.