I Get Carried Away

So… I may have a million things on my needles right now. It’s been forever since I’ve posted, and I’m terribly sorry. I promise I will get better and consistently writing. That’s one of my goals for the fall. I want to get to the point that it’s as instinctual to blog as it is to exercise every day. There just aren’t enough hours, I tell you. Today will be a lightning round of where I’m at with each project, then I’ll give you more in-depth updates as the week goes on. 

Three Tree Town

I ended up frogging this poor little bugger. About halfway through the second chart, I was just not loving the pattern. It wasn’t working for me like it had before. I still love the yarn, though the variegation does make it a challenge. It’s all ripped out and patiently waiting for me to find the perfect pattern for it. I may try and find another Elizabeth Clark pattern for it. Jury’s still out on that. 

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What Wonder

Finished and handed over to the expectant momma just in time for the baby shower. I also received a lovely text from the daddy (also an old friend of mine) saying how much they love it. It is currently folded neatly into the crib, waiting for little Eleanor to arrive. 

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Hartford Sweater

Well, I finished the body and the sleeves, which is terrific. But I botched the seaming. This is likely partially due to the modifications I made while increasing and decreasing, to account for the difference in the width of my gauge. I need to rip out the seams and redo them, but I haven’t yet built up the courage. Needless to say, Mom did not receive it in time for her birthday, but she says as long as she gets it by October, she’s happy. 

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Wool Leaves

The baby blankets are never ending these days. I’ve pulled my first attempt at Wool Leaves out of hiding. I want to finish it in time for my niece’s (actually cousin’s) first birthday party on 20 September. This is entirely doable, because I’m holding the yarn double again and I’m over 3/4 of the way through. I just have to be disciplined enough to actually do it instead of all the fun things I could be doing…

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It’s Thunder

I’ve entered my first knit-a-long! Because I OBVIOUSLY don’t have enough on my plate as is… The lovely and tallented Hanna Maciejewska is hosting a fall KAL. We can choose any one of her patterns to work on in the months of August and September. The deadline is September 30th. So I took this as an excuse to buy more madtosh and cast on her Ink. I’m working it in tosh merino light in the manor colorway. I tell you, pictures do not do it justice. This is my first raglan cardigan, and I am loving it. The only downside is that since it’s fingering weight, it is very slow going. 

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Rambling Woman

Since It’s Thunder is so slow going, I decided I needed a little instant gratification. For most knitters, that would mean a hat or something. Not so with my crazy little brain! I went for another pullover! This one is in worsted though, and it’s very simple. I cast this little guy on last weekend and I am already finished with the hip increases. So it did feel instant and very gratifying. 

The pattern is Seacoast by Joji Locatelli, and it’s yet another Brooklyn Tweed pattern. I used a little variegated tosh vintage in the Crumble colorway for the ballet neck and the rest is in a Cascade’s Red Wine Heather. It’s gorgeous and cozy and I can’t wait to wear it this fall. 

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Blog Hop – Sharing the Creative Process

Soknitsome was very kind to mention me in a recent blog hop on sharing the creative process. I loved reading her answers, so I guess it’s my turn to take a crack at it. 

1. What am I working on? 

Well… If you want the full list, check out my Ravelry page. I currently have six projects on the needles and four or five in hibernation. Here are the ones I’m most focused on now though. 

Hartford by Julie Hoover for MomIMG_1322

Three Tree Town (aka Limberlost Trails) by MMario for myselfIMG_0208

What Wonder Have We Wrought (aka Chevron Baby Blanket) by Purl Soho for Eleanor CabeIMG_0210

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Seeing as I have only dipped my toe into designing so far, I don’t have a very clear answer for that. What I will say is that my knitting choices stem from my obsessive love of color. A prime example would be Andean Sunrise. I was knitting a delightful little hat out of some extra Manos del Uruguay that I had in my stash and plugging along nicely until, all of a sudden, I realized that I did not have enough to finish the decreases. I almost had to bind off too quickly, which would have left it all pinched in the back, but then my eyes came to rest on some variegated Malabrigo that I had lying around. The purple matched the Manos perfectly, so I picked it up and finished off the tam with that. That bright pop of green in the midst of that deep purple is quite possibly the best accident I’ve ever made in knitting. Now, it’s my favorite hat. 

Graham by Jennifer Adams

Graham by Jennifer Adams

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 

I write for many of the same reasons as I knit; I have a compulsion to make things. Knitting usually gets a lot more of my attention, because it creates a tangible result that I can show in my hand. The craft of writing is a little more ephemeral, so it’s harder for me to make myself sit down and write. Still, I take joy in both. Some people are creators, some are fixers, some are destroyers. I’m definitely a creator. It’s my instinct to make something out of raw materials.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

My writing process mostly consists of me feeling guilty about not writing. My creative process with knitting is much more constructive. I see a pattern or motif that I like and I envision what color and texture yarn would work best. Then I buy far too much yarn and strain my pocketbook, but then comes the joy of diving in and wrestling with a new pattern. I rarely do patterns twice, though I have a few staples. It’s all about stretching myself and acquiring new skills. I try to challenge myself with something new on each pattern. 

 

Now it’s time to share some of my favorite blogs that I feel should get more attention. 

Flip Coast Creations – Californian turned Mainer who loves upcycling and does a lot of cute, quick projects that are great ideas for stash-busting.

String Geekery – As much a mathematician as she is an artist, Naomi literally knits meaning into her work, oh and it’s also gorgeous.

Nearly There – Refers to her blog as a learning journal. She humbly shares both triumphs and stumbles in her adventures in knitting, spinning and life in general. She’s also really good at sharing the work of others she admires and giving credit where credit is due. Awesome resource.

Happy knitting, everyone!

 

 

I’m Back!

I’m terribly sorry for dropping off the face of the planet as far as blogging is concerned. I had some personal things to take care of that kind of got in the way of sitting down and getting any writing done. Then I took off for a long weekend to Electric Forest, up in Rothbury, MI. Now that the festival is over and my life seems to have found a new equilibrium, I thought it was finally time to sit down and chat to the dear void of the blogosphere.

I haven’t been able to get much knitting done either, so this post will be more about some odds and ends that I made for the festival and all the cool inspiration that I found there as well. Firstly, I made a garland of gingham rags that we hung up at the campsite. It was massive and caused the front seat of the van to look like Jo-Ann Fabrics barfed in my lap, but it ultimately gave the campsite a nice touch. (Aside: I will never go camping again. EVER! If I go to EF next year I’m definitely laying down the extra cash to get a cabin.)

Then I also made these ribbon necklaces for my brother and some of the others in our group. The boys ended up stringing them from their ears and using them as beards. They proved to be quite popular and got a lot of compliments, so they wore them the entire weekend. I even put bells on them to make them jingle. 

But my work paled in comparison to some of the other ingenious things others made. The thing about Electric Forest is that the line between artist and audience is a little blurred. There are paid performance artists that wander around, but there are also audience members that just show up in costume and sometimes you can’t tell the difference. The producers build really cool installations in the forest, but the people wandering through add their touches as well. There are official performances, but then you’ll find three kids sitting beneath a tree, singing along to a ukulele. It’s one of the most unique experiences that I’ve ever been a part of. 

In knitting news: Gold Across the River is almost done and I’ve completely another skein on the Hartford sweater. 

I Know I’m Sick When I Don’t Even Want to Knit

I’ve hardly accomplished half the things that I wished to accomplish so far this week. My body has been rebelling against me in a big way. I even had to go home ill yesterday. Normally when I call off, I lay in bed and get a fair bit of knitting done. Not so this time around. curled up in bed and immediately fell asleep for FOUR HOURS!!! And then I still slept soundly all night. I don’t like this game.

I picked up a little of Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze while I was at the shop on Sunday. I plan on making a light wrap for my grandmother for her birthday, and it will keep me busy until Mom’s yarn comes in. I started on US 13 needles for a super loose gauge, but I hated how it looked, so I ripped it out (not easy in Kidsilk, let me tell you). Then I recast it onto 5s and I like the look a lot more. I’m debating whether or not to throw a little lacework into it. I’m already doing random striping and I don’t want it to look too busy. I might just add a little edging or something.

ImageI did manage to get Wool Leaves on the blocks this morning. It looks so terrific. I am quite proud of this one. I get the feeling that this will be a staple project for me. There will be a lot of babies in my family with one of these. Just saying.

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In other news, the boyfriend is coming over today and may drive me around to look for cars to replace mine that broke down. Might get some work done on the drive.

All the Things! Finished Things!

Welp, I managed to finish Wool Leaves before the yarn I ordered for Mom’s sweater even arrived. It turned out even prettier than I expected. The color is perfect. The yarn is gorgeous and I can’t wait to see how it blocks. That’s on my schedule for tomorrow. Right now it’s about two foot by two foot. I’m hoping to get a little more stretch out of it once it’s soaked. I know it’s for a newborn, but I want it to be large enough to be useful for more than just the first year. Even if it stays small, I am still really pleased with the result.

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Swallowtail just came off the blocks as well and it is looking gorgeous. Rowan Fine Tweed definitely softens a bit after blocking and feels much better next to the skin. I’ll hopefully get a few action shots of it later to show how nicely it drapes around the neck and shoulders. I am in love with that tweedy texture.

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I only have one thing on the needles right now, which feels very strange. It’s that Manos del Uruguay scarf that I was struggling with in my last post. Well, I ripped it back down to the border and started again with Barbara Walker’s seaweed stitch. It’s turning out a lot better than my last attempt. I’ll have to write out the pattern for you all and see what you think. I keep wavering between naming it “Come Rain or Come Shine” after and Ella Fitzgerald song, or “Old Pine” which is a homage to my favorite singer-songwriter, Ben Howard. Oh, or I could call it “Gold Across the River” in reference to Laura Marling’s song “Alas, I Cannot Swim.” We shall see.

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10,000 Hours Later…

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I started knitting when I was a teenager. My grandmother taught me the basics and then I basically picked up the rest as I went along. I wasn’t terribly serious about it though until well into college; actually about the same time the neat little existence of my adolescence crumbled around me and I was forced to rethink everything I’d ever believed about anything. I finished my first scarf when I was twenty. I finished my first blanket when I was twenty-one.

For years I have been what I would call a hobbyist. I dabbled in a little technique here and there, but nothing too serious. I didn’t really learn how to follow a pattern until I was twenty. It was just a thing that I did to keep my hands busy. Then, almost six months ago, something clicked. My brother bought me a gift certificate to my LYS for Christmas. I had been in a few times, but for the most part I had been buying my supplies from soulless superstores like Jo-Ann Fabrics. Somehow, this time was different. This time was the turning point. I wanted to do something really special with Charlie’s present. What Red Purl offered, was not just something to keep your hands busy during your idle hours; it was an opportunity to display craftsmanship, attention to detail and self-expression. It was an opportunity to make art. So I walked out with three skeins of Malabrigo and a Brooklyn Tweed pattern and I was off to the races.

Improvised Cowl in German Herringbone

Improvised Cowl in German Herringbone

Ever since that fateful January afternoon, I have experienced a new fire in my desire to knit every spare minute that I get. Each new project is a new lesson in technique. I learned consistency in making a pattern twice. I learned precision in crafting my first fitted garment. I learned creativity in improvising my own pattern off of a swatch that I found in a book. Every stitch brings me closer to mastery. Every yard makes me a disciple of my own hands.

They (whoever they are) say one must practice a craft for at least ten thousand hours before one can master it. I don’t know how many hours I have spent knitting. Frankly, I don’t want to know. What I do know is that I just finished a lace shawl in ten days. I may not be a master yet, there are still many things that I need to learn, but I feel safe in saying that I am now a journeyman knitter. I have left the term hobbyist behind me.

Knitting is not my hobby. It is not the thing I do in my spare time. Knitting is my craft. I am a craftsman. A craftsman work shapes her body until it is part of her. I feel my fingers and wrists grow stronger and nimbler. I feel my posture improve to prevent cramping. Knitting is literally changing the way I carry myself. And I am ready for the next 10,000 hours.

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Oh, and you can check out my featured FO, Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark on Ravelry.

Vacation Knitting Binge

Due to certain perks of my job, I have the next eight days off. I don’t have enough money to travel far and there’s not a whole lot to do around here, but I do have quite a bit of knitting that I would like to get done. The good news is that both Oshima and Afton II are finished. I’m sending Afton II to Moura in a day or so and Oshima still needs to be blocked, but they are both off the needles! I even wore Oshima to work on Sunday. I wish I had made the torso and inch or two longer, but now I know. My torso is a tad long and I’ve learned that I need to compensate for that in judging dimensions.

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I had a single skein of dark purple Malabrigo Rasta that I’ve been struggling to find a use for for weeks now. I finally decided to give it a whirl and improvise something of my own. I landed on a cowl, since it’s a short project that enables you to easily try out a new stitch and knit it up quickly. Looking through Barbara C. Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting, I found a German Herringbone Rib stitch that I quite liked. I did four panels of it and repeated the pattern seven times on 9mm (US 13) needles. Since I only had that size of needle in straights, I knit it flat and plan on seaming it together after blocking is complete. I like the results so far.

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 If I did it again, I would change a few things. I almost ran out of yarn and there are a few things that I could have done to change that. I would have done a simpler cast on, instead of long-tail, because I feel like that used extra yarn. (Though it did give the bottom edge a very nice crispness) I would have knit in the round, and I would have sized the needles down by about a size or two. I’ll give it another pass some day and actually publish a pattern. The rib looks terrific in bulky yarn and I feel like it will be super cozy when wrapped around one’s neck. This one is probably destined for my Etsy shop once I finish the seaming.

Once that was done, I was left with an empty basket and a monumental stash of yarn with no clear idea of where to start next. I finally decided on a Rowan Fine Tweed in Reeth that I picked up at my LYS earlier this month. I bought enough for having a go at Evelyn A. Clark’s Swallowtail Shawl. I’m not a huge shawl person in general. But I’ve been meaning to get better at lacework and reading lace charts. I also need to knit something besides Brooklyn Tweed patterns at some point in my life. As my guru and LYS owner told me, Clark is old school, but in a good way and it would be a good step in my development as I begin to take the plunge into journeyman level. And reading her patterns will help in developing my own voice as a designer. You can master a lot of great basics under the tutelage of Evelyn A. Clark. Plus, I can always wrap the damn thing tighter around my neck, and BAM!, asymmetrical scarf.

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 So far, there have been a few grumbles as I tried to figure out the rhyme and reason of her charts (which were not automatically apparent). Clark, unlike Flood, assumes you know what the hell you’re doing and does not take the time to parse out the delicacies of how her charts piece together into a whole. She expects you to just know these things. Speaking from experience, you can follow a Jared Flood pattern even when you’re about two beers into the night. Whereas with Clark, even when you’re stone cold sober, you still find yourself squinting in concentration. I’m a little over ten rows in and I’ve finally got the hang of it, but it still looks a bit garbled. A little voice in my head is worried that the yarn is too busy for the pattern, but I think once it’s blocked, it will look much better. I just have to trust myself for now.

Upcycling and Commission Deadlines

I didn’t get nearly as knitting done as I would have liked today. I woke up around half past noon, which was ridiculous. So, there went half my day. I did manage to get my hair cut, which was much needed. I also stopped by Goodwill and picked up some old men’s sweaters to harvest yarn out of. There was not a single piece of wool in sight, it being May and all, but I did find four lovely cotton pieces. They are extra large too, so plenty of yarn to be unravelled from those suckers.

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They also inspired me to continue ripping out my old red sweater. It’s a wool/cotton/silk blend and very soft, but there was a massive hole on the yoke, so I’m ripping the entire thing down to the yarn and I’ll knit it into something even better. I’m almost halfway there and I have two decent sized balls to start something fun with. Considering all the tied off ends, I’ll have to make some kind of pullover with it. Before I start ripping apart my next sweater, I really need to teach myself how to make a Russian join. I found a tutorial on Pinterest from Knitpicks, so we shall see how that goes.

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Meanwhile, I am almost done with my first serious commission. A coworker asked me to make her a scarf like my Afton that I finished back in March. Her Afton has been on the needles since late March and it’s high time that I had it finished the darn thing. I am only about a rep and a half away, so the end is in sight. I really want to have it done by the end of the week. The color is gorgeous and I will be sad to say goodbye to the soft feel of the Malabrigo between my fingers. However, I will not miss the way the indigo has a tendency to rub off on my fingers. Amy, my knitting guru has suggested I soak it in a vinegar solution before I block it to keep the color from bleeding more. I certainly don’t want Moura’s neck to turn blue!

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Mothers Day Madness

This past Saturday, I suddenly came to the realization that Mothers Day was in only about a week! I hadn’t planned anything to make for my mother, and I hadn’t acquired any yarn specifically for the job. I racked my brain for something to make and suddenly remembered a pair of fingerless gloves I’d made for her a year or so back.

ImageI’d been rather proud of them at the time, especially my work on the thumbs, which had been particularly challenging for my level of skill. I made them out of a coral colored Patton’s worsted wool. It’s not a particularly luxurious fiber, but it has good stitch definition. I happened to have about a skein and a half left of it too. So, I decided to whip up a matching hat.

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I used the same pattern that I’d used for the purple hat I made not to long ago (see previous post) as the base and reverse engineered the cabling pattern from the gloves. I finally topped it off with a little hand-painted Malabrigo that I had in my scraps bin to give it a little extra flair.

ImageI’m currently wet blocking it and hoping that the wonky gaps in the cabling work their way out. I’m fairly proud of the thing, but it’s longer than I’d like and I’m hoping that blocking it wide stretches that out a bit. I should have decreased more rapidly, but ah well. it will do.