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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Keeping Busy

I actually get a Sunday off for once in my life and it happens to fall on Block of the Month day at my LYS. So, guess where I’ll be spending my afternoon?

Speaking of Block of the Month, Amy has asked me to try my hand at designing and write the pattern for next year. I think I’ve finally decided on all the motifs that I want to incorporate. We decided on a “potpourri” theme so that I can do a kind of sampler of all my favorite techniques and patterns. I’ve got a sketch of the order that I think I will want to do them in. Of course, that order is subject to change at any moment. My ultimate goal is to have a balanced blend of fancy show-off squares and a few mindless textures that the knitters can just whip through quickly.

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I am still waiting on the wool for my Mom’s birthday sweater. In the meantime, I thought I would start something for myself. I decided on a soft-ribbed oversized cardigan from a Debbie Bliss that I’ve had for ages. I finished the gauge swatch last night and got a few rows of the back done. I’m just using a cheep Lion Brand cotton, but it knits quickly and has a nice fluff to it. I don’t know how well it will wear, but it will be a nice, simple, easily washable cardigan for everyday use.

ImageWell, my knitting bag is packed and the dog needs a quick walk before I leave. For once, I’ll actually keep things brief. Happy knitting!

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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.

Achievement Unlocked!

The sweater blocking turned out well as I could hope. The shape is crisp and there are no dramatically out of proportion sections. I sewed the bits together Thursday night and tried on the whole body for the first time. Aside from the torso being a little shorter than I would normally wear, it came out perfect. It is comfortable. The sleeves are plenty long, which is much more of a concern for me.

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I started in on the neck that night and continued working on it throughout the following day. The main problem was, that day was jam backed with family responsibilities and I was knitting on the move and kept losing my place markers. I love brioche stitch, but doing it in the round is quite the challenge. It is very important to know when your row begins and ends. By the end of the night, it was all discombobulated. I tried to make it work, but as I sat down to it tonight, I stirred up enough gumption to frog a good four inches and pick back up in the right spot. There is still one minor kink, but I honestly don’t have the heart to go back and work that out, especially since it will be on the inside of the cowl where no one will see.

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I am so close to finishing! I can see the end cresting the next hill. By the end of Monday (my next day off) I should be able make an elated FO post, and show you all how it fits.

Alphabet Blocks Confuse

After a little over a month of hard work, my first sweater is almost complete. It is currently blocking on the floor of the spare room and I am holding my breath, and crossing all my fingers, until I actually stitch it together tomorrow and add the cowl neck. I have never blocked anything with this level of seriousness before. With hats, I normally just soak them and use a plate to block them out as they dry. When it comes to scarves, cowls and blankets, let’s face it, I just can’t be bothered.

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But when it comes to sweaters, proper blocking technique could not be avoided. So I hauled my butt over to a supermarket and bought myself some of those foam alphabet tiles from the toy section. I giggled to myself and had to take a picture when I put them in my car. I don’t have any children, so the blocks seemed so anachronistic, nestled in my back seat. Only a complete obsession, like knitting, could drive me to this level of absurdity.

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I also must confess, that until that day, I did not own a steamer. That little red box you see beneath the blocks is a little travel steamer that I had to pick up as well.

Even after getting the blocks home, I was  bait hesitant to start, but this afternoon I finally built up enough courage to start. After almost an hour of obsessively measuring and pinning, measuring and repining, and measuring again, I finally coerced the pieces into dimensions that vaguely reflected the measurements in the schematic. I ran the steamer over them once and then had to run to dinner with the boyfriend. After getting home tonight, I gave them another once over. I’ll try and stitch the seams tomorrow.

Sweater Virgin

IMG_0743After roughly four years of knitting, I have embarked on my first sweater adventure. I’ve always been a little nervous when it comes to fitted clothing because there is so much room for error. I am not the most precise knitter in the world. My lackadaisical habits do well for me when I’m plugging away on afghans, because it enables me to just plow away until it’s over. Sweaters on the other hand… It’s allof the yardage without the wide open spaces to hide and compnsate for your mistakes. If you fudge something on a sweater, everything following it comes out wonky and you end up looking like a Weasley on Christmas morning. But I have decided it is time to tackle my first greatest fear. I will be precise, I will count, I will tally, I will double check my work. I made test swatch after test swatch until I got the perfect gauge.

For my first sweater, I picked a worthy adversary; Jared Flood’s Oshima. It is a wonder of a loose-fitting cowl-neck with ribbing on the neck and breast, and chunky cuffs. There are about 115 projects on Ravelry, and I am not lying when I tell you that every single one looks gorgeous. It is the kind ofsweater that flatters all body types. It’s relaxed without being lazy. It’s cozy without being suffocating.I finished the sleeves last night and I’m particularly proud of my job on the decrease. The double fashioned decrease was a new technique that I had not encountered before. But it was clever and resulted in a gorgeous edge that I can’t wait to stitch to the body of this monster. 

IMG_0744Oh, and I have managed to write this entire post without making a single mention of the yarn! This marks the beginning of my love affair with Green Mountain Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair. At first touch, it seems a little scruffy, but it knits up infinitely softer. It’ got a great tweedy texture that is super forgiving. Unlike my other great love, Malabrigio, which you just have to look at and it pills, you can rip Green Mountain out and rework big tracts without fear. Amy, my knitting guru and local yarn shop owner, recently ripped out half a sweater of Green Mountain and it knit back up, good as new.I special ordered the Midnight Blue because it was the perfect mix of classic and idiosyncr
atic. I almost picked a gray color that Amy had in stock, but I decided that, with my eyes, I had to go blue.

Now that the sleeves are done, it’s time for the body. The whole process is much faster than I expected and I feel as if I’m picking up speed as my excitement to see the pieces come together mounts. So, I’m sure there will be more Oshima posts to come.
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