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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I Might Have a Yarn Problem…

Once again, I have spent far too much money at the yarn shop.

I happened to find myself up north in St. Joeseph, MI yesterday afternoon and I couldn’t resist checking out the new location for Ivelise’s Yarn Shop. This is the favorite stomping grounds of my grandmother, who prefers slightly cheeper yarn to the heirloom quality stuff at Red Purl. Don’t get me wrong, Cathy has some terrific stuff, and she has a much wider variety to choose from.

I ended up walking away with two new projects. The first is that I finally chose some yarn for Seacoast, which I’ve had in my queue for a few weeks. First, I ran into a lone skein of tosh vintage in a variegated red, orange, and gold. It was just too good to pass up. But I didn’t want to just make a hat or cowl out of it. So, I bought some matching deep red Cascade in a heather texture. My master plan is to work the body and arms in the Cascade and then top of the ballet neck with the madtosh. I think it will be a nice effect. Fingers crossed.

Cascade and madtoshThen I also picked up some lovely green laceweight for my attempt at the Limberlost Trails Shawl that I found on Ravelry. I’m calling mine Three Tree Town after a Ben Howard song. I’ve been dying to try this shawl for ages and I finally found the right material for it. Lace and I have a love hate relationship, but I think I will love working with this Araucania. It’s one of the softest things that I’ve ever held in my hands.

IMG_1206Then, finally, because I had apparently not spent enough money, I picked up an Addi Click set. Oh my word, it is the most wonderful knitting experience that I’ve ever had. The knitting is smooth and comfortable. The yarn flies through my fingers. The tips are easy to switch on and off and the connection isn’t noticeable in the least once they’re in place. I wish I had bought these months ago. I’ve already transferred the Hartford sweater to them and as a result, I am flying through it again. I think it just might be ready in time.

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I Swear I’m Not Crazy

I feel so neurotic whenever I pull out Endpaper. My knitting guru (aka Amy from Red Purl) recommended I store it in baggies to keep the kidsilk clean and soft. It gets tangled and bedraggled rather easy until it’s knit up. Still, carrying around little plastic bags full of yarn makes me feel even crazier than I already know that I am.

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Despite all that, I am finally making progress. I’ve got to the point in the pattern where it flips and mirrors itself. I can’t wait to see how that turns out. For right now, it just looks like scalloped edging. Eventually it will be the Ostrich Plumes motif from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting. I am loving the pattern so far, even though it gave me a little grief. I’m calling it Endpaper because I hope that when all is said and done it will be slightly reminiscent of the marbled endpapers in old books.

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I am still plugging away at Gold Across the River. It’s a nice piece to bring back and forth to work because it is small, but sturdy and can ride along in my bag with all the other various bits of things that commute with me to work. I’m about a third of the way and I am discovering that I am loving the back just as much as I am loving the front. When I actually publish this pattern, I plan on making it completely reversible.

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Last note, the yarn for Mom’s sweater is in and I’ll be heading to the yarn shop some time next week to pick it up. I’m sure I’ll post pictures on Instagram right away, but I’ll also be sure to write a bit about it as well.

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.

What’s Next?

I am mere rows away from finishing Swallowtail. All that’s left is the edging and then she’s ready to block. I do love this part of a project, where I can se it unfold in my hands, while simultaneously contemplating what’s next.

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After this, I have a few big projects coming up. I’m making a sweater for my Mom’s birthday in August. We’ve picked out Hartford by Julie Hoover. After seeing how well Swallowtail knit up, I think I will use Rowan’s aran tweed. I love the texture and feel. It’s not too clingy to the skin, which Mom will like. She also really likes the little flecks of color in Swallowtail. I went to my LYS the other day and took a look at Amy’s swatches. I’m leaning towards Dent.

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I also have a few other projects for others coming up. One of my oldest friends in the world is having a baby in September. Her shower is in July and I think I could probably whip together a second Wool Leaves by then. The one I currently have on the needles will have to hibernate for a few weeks while I scurry to finish that. I can’t decide between one solid color, or mixing it up. I could do it in all green or I can mix some dark and light grays into it. Any thoughts?

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Now that I’m doing a lot more work for others, I am going to have to get a lot more single-minded on my projects. I have about one big project due every month from July on. On July 6, Wool Leaves needs to be ready. August 6 is Mom’s Hartford. Sometime in early September is Wool Leaves II. I do have a few little treats coming up for myself as well though… 😉

 

 

All Good Things…

I spent the past two days lazing about on a lakeshore with some of my oldest friends and closest family members. There was good food, good wine and good, clean air. The sunshine was soothing and the sunsets were romantic. I came back a few pounds fatter and a little pink on my cheeks and shoulders. All in all, it was perfect.

But in case you thought it was all lazing about with my eyes closed, you would be wrong. I made great headway on Swallowtail. I am about half-way through the Lilly of the Valley border and then all I have left is the scalloped edging.

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I must admit that the fingering weight was much easier to deal with in the heat of the midday sun than anything in worsted. So, points for lacework! What? I didn’t just say that… Oh, and there was some boating and tubing of course. Subsequently, my shoulders aren’t working today.

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The Unforgiving Delicacy of Lace

This one is going to be fairly short, because I have a lot to do today. But, since I haven’t updated you all in a while, I felt I needed to at least post a few thoughts.

First thought: lace is rough. I knew there was a reason I had avoided it for so long. This Swallowtail Shawl is kicking my butt every inch of the way. I got a little mangled in the edging for about two reps, but now I’m back on track again. It doesn’t look too tragic, so I’m just going to leave it. I could spend the rest of the summer frogging and reknitting this stupid thing. At one point you just have to say good enough and keep on knitting. I just finished my first skein and it is beginning to take a coherent form. I can finally say, I’ve grown about an ounce of pride in this thing about halfway through that first skein. Now, only four more to go…

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In other news, I am attempting another pass at a baby blanket for my little cousin. She’ll be a year old in September, and I didn’t finish a blanket for her in time for her birth, so she’s getting one for her first birthday. I chose Jared Flood’s Wool Leaves pattern, which I think is very pretty. I am a tad nervous about the material though. I bought it back before I knew better and it’s Bernat’s Softee Baby. It’s all acrylic and all salmon pink. The mom helped me pick out the color though, so I will struggle through. Hopefully the end result will do justice to the pattern. One of my best friends will be having a baby around the same time, so I’m actually off to the yarn shop to pick out a soft, fluffy cotton for my second pass at this one.

ImageAnd final thought, I happened to drive by the little town where I lived during my undergrad years. The Island Weaver in Winona Lake, IN is a sweet little shop. I only visited it once or twice during my college years, but it was worth stopping in again. The owner is a delightful weaver and she has her shop set up in thirds. The front room is for FOs by various local artists. The middle is full of yarn and pre-dyed and un-dyed roving wool for sale. The final back room is her own studio where she weaves beautiful blankets, scarves and rugs on her various looms. It is an absolute delight and she is super friendly. I picked up three skeins of Manos del Uruguay in the Tanager color way. This is an artisan’s collective of women all over the Uruguayan countryside that spin and dye wool for sale in the US. The proceeds feed directly back to them and help them support their families. The wool has a fun, raw texture and a bit of a thick and thin nature to it. And the colors are just glorious. I think these are going to be made up into a pretty little scarf.

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So much for being brief…

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.