There are few things quite as disappointing as spending a lot of time and effort to make a project, only in the end having it not be the project you actually wanted in the first place. It’s like that craving conundrum: what you really want is chocolate, but there isn’t any in the house. So you eat a bowl of cereal, some fruit, and maybe something else too, only to find that you’re not really satisfied because you STILL haven’t had any chocolate. My Raspberry Beret (Swirl Hat) was exactly like that.
Several years ago I designed, what is for me, the perfect hat. It’s called the Modern Mob Cap*, and it solves all my Huge Head/Hair Clip hat issues. With a slouchy, rasta style body and a fitted, double thick brim, it really is everything I need in a hat. The slouchy body allows plenty of room for my very long hair (held up in a hair clip) without distorting a more fitted hat and stretching it out. It’s actually very flattering for me, whether my hair is up or down, and I love it. The only problem is, I can’t find it. It’s MIA during the coldest winter we’ve had in years. Not only couldn’t I find it, but I didn’t have any worsted weight yarn in the right colors either.
So, what do I do? I stash dove for a pretty garnet colored skein I dyed last year and spent hours over the course of two days looking for a crocheted hat I could make instead. I started and then discarded at least three different versions until I found one that I liked that was both FREE and CHARTED. You’d think I was searching for the Holy Grail. Finally, I found a vortex-like lacey pattern that appealed to me. Relatively quickly, I had a finished beret.
The thing is, it isn’t the hat I really wanted, and it’s certainly not the hat I need. It’s lacey, for the one thing. Yeah, that wasn’t particularly well thought out. It’s also more fitted than I would like, despite a fairly strong blocking. Lastly, crocheted brims suck. It doesn’t have the stretch and give that a ribbed brim would. Poor little beret. It’s not the beret’s fault, not really. It’s my own for not going to the store and buying the yarn I needed to make the hat I should have been making in the first place. This is what happens when you don’t listen to your heart and try to make do.
I have since purchased the yarn I need in the colors I want. I’m doing it in acrylic this time because the one thing I never really cared for with the previous hat was that the merino yarn made my forehead itch. When I finish up my current projects (or at least one of them) I will be immediately casting on for the hat my head and my heart long for.
* This is a pattern I have written up and will be finally be publishing this year. It’s only been written up for five years already!
Part of my current queue has been the intriguing Follow Your Arrow shawl by Ysolda Teague. It’s her first MKAL (mystery knit alon), and mine as well. The minute I read that it was essentially a ‘choose your own adventure’ in shawl form, I was hooked. The way it works is that each week you are given an A or B option to the clue. Five weeks, five chances to choose which way you’ll go with your shawl, with a total of 32 different combinations possible. I shared the word and a whole bunch of friends, online and off, are on the journey with me. I chose some test-base yarn that I had dyed for another project that never happened in a Lichen (green/brown) and Truffle (chocolate brown).
Right away, I knew that one of the options was most definitely not my style. 1A had you making something that resembled a striped pizza slice, and then picking up along an extra edge. 1B had you starting off with a traditional garter tab and making thick sections of alternating stockinette or garter stripes. I’m definitely more traditional in my shawl choices, so I went with what was most appealing to me.
Week 2 presented me with a similar situation. 2A was a simple garter lace chart, and 2B involved striping short rows. Yeah, THAT wasn’t happening. 2A it was, and away I went. Only thing was, I couldn’t for the life of me seem to pay attention to what I was doing! You’d think it was a Neibling chart or something for all the times I had to rip out and redo. First I changed colors when I shouldn’t have, so I ripped back. Then I forgot the lace should have been in garter, so I had to rip back again. Finally, after the third time, I managed to subdue the stupid simple task before me.
Now we’re in Week 3. It’s a short clue, which some people finished in one day. Not me, as I’m a slow knitter, despite devoting three hours to it last night. Both A and B clues were lace, but I liked the look of B better, thus making my version of the shawl a BAB so far.
I’m not in love with the design, but it’s nice enough so far. I certainly like the traditionally shaped versions much better than the asymmetrical and short-row shaped ones you can see on the spoiler threads on Ravelry. If the finished project doesn’t wow me I have no doubt that someone will happily take it off my hands, so no loss there! The point is, I’m having fun with the adventure.
Oh, blog, I haven’t forgotten you. And I’m really sorry for those who have stuck around and still look forward to reading this here dusty blog. Holidays, health, and lack of vim and vigor. That’s my tried and true story, and I’m sticking with it. While I haven’t been sharing my projects here, I have been busy! Let’s move on to the sharing stuff, shall we?
I’ve made a BUNCH of stuff since the holidays. What kind of stuff? Well, I made a dinosaur, a replacement hat for the Husbeast, a lacey crocheted hat for me, and I FINALLY finished my PAX East 2013 socks. That would be from late March of last year. Yeah, those socks. The ones I call my Sock Monkey Socks.
To say that I am happy to have these socks off the needles would do a disservice to the feeling. I am ecstatic. During the coldest winter we’ve had in years, I have a brand new pair of warm, wool socks in an earthy and cheery colorway. There’s nothing quite like a brand new pair of hand knit socks, people. Those of you who make socks, you know what I’m talking about. The yarn is Patons Kroy, for those who are curious. Kroy is one of my favorite sock yarns because it’s sturdy, durable, and comes in fantastic colors. Note that I didn’t list soft, but also note that my feet don’t give a flying fig about that.
Someday, probably a very long time from now, I will own a CSM (circular sock machine) and I will crank out oodles of socks. And lo, it will be a beautiful thing. For while I love wearing hand made socks, I’m super slow at making them and can’t stand making them for anyone other than myself because of that. If the yarn fairy could drop one off at Tiny House it would be like doing a public service for my family and friends. We need more socks! Just as Steve, he’ll tell you.
I’ve been a busy little bee these last few weeks, despite not posting in what seems like forever. We had our family Christmas at Thanksgiving again this year as my parents are off on another adventure. Mom got her Shimmer-ish cowl and seemed very happy with it, just pardon her tousled hair. We kept going back and forth on what was the best look. I’m also told the Monkey Blankie was a hit with our niece, which makes me happy. Toys aren’t my favorite, I’ve decided, no matter how universally appealing they might be. I have one more to make for a friend, but there’s no time limit on that one.
Also on and off the needles since last I wrote, the Swirling Petals Cowl for my cousin Nanceys. She’s the one who worked her ass off Rhinebeck weekend and says it was “fun”. I have to mail this off and hope that she’s able to wear it. The yarn is Bernat Alpaca, which is a 70/30 acrylic/alpaca blend. Apparently, their world, ‘alpaca’ means the worst of the guard hairs we can find and probably aren’t even alpaca but llama, instead. I like knitting with the yarn, but I wish the quality were better on the natural fiber content. It makes me doubly anxious since I have more of the yarn in woodsy colors to make Steve a replacement hat and scarf that are machine washable. Fingers crossed.
Did I mention that my Jenny’s Faith Shawl also came off a few weeks ago? I’ve been wearing it every day and I just love it. It really deserves its own FO post considering what went into it.
Right now my big push is to get a last minute wedding shrug for my wonderful friends Becky and Erin done. Make that shrugs. One in lace weight and lace pattern for Becky, which Ginni is generously knitting the panel for, and the other in sock weight, solid stockinette for Erin. What luck that I had the perfect ice blue in sock weight destash yarn! I dyed a similar blue for Becky’s shrug.
I’ll be done with the panel for Erin’s shrug tonight and then I’ll start the seaming and trimming of cuffs and body opening. When Ginni’s done with her panel I’ll take it home and do the same to it as well. Making this kind of handmade gift happen for two beautiful people is such an honor. I only hope they fit well enough. It’s hard to know for sure without fittings, though at least I have measurements!
Pattern: My own version of designs I saw on Ravelry
Yarn: Knit Picks Brava Worsted for the pink and purples, Deborah Norville Everyday Worsted, and Vanna’s Choice for the brown and beige (100% acrylic).
Started: November 7, 2013
Finished: November 20, 2013
Let’s just get it out of the way, right up front. I suck at embroidering faces on dolls. I’m sure that part of my problem is simply a lack of experience and expertise. That said, I’m sure that it’s mostly because I lack patience. So just ignore Little Miss Monkey’s poorly stitched features and instead just look at the whole. On the whole, I’m pretty pleased with how she came out! The monkey will be a gift for my niece whose birthday is a few days after Thanksgiving. FYI: I would have been done over a week ago if I hadn’t run out of the brown yarn and needed to get more.
I took my inspiration from this elephant blanket doll, but I didn’t care for the monkey version with no arms and the solid blanket body, so I winged it completely on my own. The blanket “body” was easy, it’s just a large granny square. The hardest part was using up the right color of leftover yarn in sections that wouldn’t cause me to run out early. I was just a wee bit short on the brown and had to buy another skein, of which I only used maybe 1/10th.
The head was more of a challenge because I needed to figure out how to make the lighter colored face section just so, with the bumps for the eyes, and then grow the rest of the head from there. I’m particularly pleased with how I got the top of the eye brow ridge to look all ridge-y like that. All in all, it came out really well, and the addition of the arms makes a big difference for me. She looks more like a doll, and less like a disembodied head on a blanket.
I would highly recommend any of the many patterns like this on Ravelry for anyone who would like to make a quick to crochet/knit baby gift that’s just a little bit out of the ordinary. It’s quick and easy to make, and best of all a good way to use up leftover yarn. They are pretty unisex too, so you can easily make “boy” versions of just about any of these type of dolls.
Let’s go back over that cowl I made for my mom’s Christmas gift, shall we? She told me she really, really wanted an infinity loop kind of cowl, and I didn’t have anything else to go off of other than that. Mom and I scoured the JoAnn’s Etc. near my workplace but, though their selection is rather large, it seemed every color she liked was in a wool blend yarn… and she doesn’t “do” wool up against her neck by choice. Finally, we found Saturate by Deborah Norville/Premier Yarns. Like I said, it’s basically acrylic fluff suspended in a nylon mesh tube. Beautiful, and exceedingly soft.
I found a pattern that I liked very much and thought she’d enjoy as well and cast on. The Shimmer Cowl pattern was written for worsted weight and my yarn was bulky, but that’s good since she wanted a cowl you could loop over twice or leave hanging down long. It looked interesting, but not too complicated.
The pattern has you start with a Foundation Single Crochet. Now, I haven’t done one of these before, but let me tell you… IT’S AWESOME. What a great way to start a project that has you cast on a large number of stitches! It’s very obvious in a bulky yarn, but I can see it being very unobtrusive in a lighter weight. So, that was fun. I worked half the larger fringe section because my yarn was so large, and then things got weird.
The body of the cowl seems to be made up of some sort of solid linen stitch, but if you follow the instructions as written you’d end up with a netting like filet crochet. Apparently I’m the only one who had this problem on Ravelry, but that’s ok. I just sort of winged it from there on out and I love the resulting fabric. It really works with the long color repeats beautifully. I also winged the upper lace border. I gave the whole thing a good soak and then blocked the heck out of it to get some more width so it would hang longer on the neck.
Now all I have to do is wrap it up and see what mom thinks come Thanksgiving, which is our Christmas this year as mom and dad are snow-birding again this year and won’t be home for actual Christmas. Not a bad two-day’s work.
I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I promise. I’ve just… retreated a little bit once we finally got through the rush and push of Rhinebeck and company during the show. Amy , John, Baby Z and mutual friend Amanda all came up from Viriginia just before the show and stayed with us until Monday morning after it ended. It was wonderful to see them, and to meet the baby for the first time. Amy is such a great mom, and I love how her family of two is even better as a family of three. They were gone too soon, however, and I miss them all.
Rhinebeck was, by the way, fabulous. As in, “oh my god, I can’t believe it went that well” kind of fabulous. It’s overwhelming though, you know? A good problem to have, don’t get me wrong! But I feel like butter spread thin across too much bread. There’s not enough of me to go around and I rebel by planting myself in my recliner and saying “enough!” So, I catch up on Netflix and my WIP list gets attacked with ferocity. The days get colder and trees grow bare. The fireplace gets set up with iron accoutrements and I put my foot down about needing fire to keep me warm. This the wooly time of year.
Despite the busyness of October, I managed to just squeak out that Cotton the Sheep doll I was crochet for Baby Z. Go me! I basically winged it once I got done with the first portion of the head (the face) because I couldn’t see what I was doing due to the boucle yarn I chose. I’m all right with that, however, and very pleased with how the doll came out. I didn’t get to see Baby Z play with it much during Amy and John’s visit, but they told me she’d face-plant herself onto the doll while playing on the floor.
I haven’t finished much else aside from a cowl for my mom for Christmas, started and finished in just two days in a brand new yarn from Deborah Norville called Saturate. Mom picked it out with me at JoAnn’s to go with her new coat. The yarn is a deliciously soft acrylic/nylon blend that’s basically yarn fluff encased in a slightly shimmery netting tube. The colors (grey/pink/wine) worked up in long, slow color changing repeats and since it’s bulky it took very little time to finish. It helped that one of the two days was a sick day, however. I just have to weave in the ends.
The current sock project is getting a lot more attention since I started working on it while I read at lunch. I foresee finishing it up before the end of the month. That’ll give me my last pair of socks for the year, probably. I’ve also started and almost finished a crochet monkey-blankie and a crochet shawl. More on those soon as I feel this has gotten rather longwinded.
May I start by saying happy anniversary to my beloved? Seven years ago today we married each other, for so long as our love should last. We’ve been tested by life and misfortune, and come out the other side. He loves me, yarn and all. I love him, dice and all. I’m proud to call Stephen my husband.
This is the time of year where I get a little delusional about how much I can realistically get done in a given span of time. That span of time being the month of September through Rhinebeck (third weekend in October). I totally looked at Madrona around the middle of September and said, “yeah, I can DO THIS! I can have it ready for competition at Rhinebeck AND dye ALL THE THINGS between now and then!” It’s a special kind of delusion. Most of you probably only get that way around the holidays, but for me it’s early Fall. Suffice to say I’ve regained my senses and have shelved Madrona for deep winter when I have little to nothing competing for my time.
That isn’t to say I haven’t started something new. There are babies in my life! Babies that need soft, squishy things to love and drool on! Enter Cotton the Sheep, a large amigurumi toy designed after a sheep in a Japanese anime movie called Oblivion Island. I haven’t seen the movie, but the pattern was just what I was looking for as a gift to my friend Amy’s baby. My Cotton won’t have the chest scar, and will have less creepy eyes, perhaps embroidered on like the rest of the face. I had a false start when it came to the body (wool) yarn. I initially chose a white, fluffy yarn that was a disaster to crochet with. I couldn’t tell where the stitches were at all. I’ve since subbed it out for a lovely boucle that’s doing a much better job of it. My Cotton will have to be done by the time Amy and family get here, the Friday before Rhinebeck, and will be a belated birthday present for Little Miss Z.
My Little Miss A also has a birthday coming up, and since I noticed her mama has purchased her some monkey themed clothing, she’s getting a monkey doll for her birthday in November. I’ve never made dolls like these before and now it’s two in two months? Color me surprised. Some aspects of it I really like, while others (making multiple small pieces and seaming) not so much. The upside is that I may finally make that Eeyore I’ve been intending to make for over a decade. I’m feeling rather smug that I never got rid of the booklet, it’s rare and going for much more than I paid initially. I finally have the skills and patience to do it justice, though I’ve read they’re not for the faint of heart.
However, what with all the show prep, I’m mostly working on this right now.
Yup. My Sock Monkey sock that I started at PAX East in APRIL. I only just turned the heel this weekend. It’s kinda sad, but whatcha gonna do? Knit on, one stitch after another.
So, you all know that once late summer hits it’s all about the autumn show season and time to DYE-DYE-DYE, right? I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been dyeing here and there all year, but this is when shit* gets serious. It’s also a money thing. Jersey is a very good show for me and so I take that influx of cash and pour it right back into Rhinebeck. Speaking of Jersey, you can read my show wrap up over on the business blog here. The dyeing starts in earnest this weekend and I hope to be done by the end of the month so I’m not rushing like crazy the weekend before Rhinebeck. Wish me luck.
In the meantime, I’ve finished up some of the WIPs I’ve had hanging around for the last few months. First up, we have the Alethea Shawl (with mods). What a PAIN IN MY ASS this shawl was. I pretty much winged it for the most part. I really, REALLY hate non-charted crochet patterns. Like, with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. If I had the software I’d have tried charting it on my own, but that’s neither here nor there.
I ended up with probably 1/3 of my skein of Afterglow left over. I’m going to put it in for competition at Rhinebeck, even though I don’t think it’s “show stopper” quality. You never know and it’s just $2 either way. This one is a gift, and I have a sneaking suspicion that SOMEONE opened their pie-hole and told the recipient they’re getting it. Maybe. I’d rather it were a surprise but even if it’s not at least I know the person already loves it.
Next up is the Vogue ruffled wrap that I started god knows when. I decided it was long enough sometime last week and that I really didn’t like the squared off, abrupt ending to each side. So, I made a decreased point on the working end and picked up my cast-on stitches on the other. That ended up looking kind of fugly but I’m past caring at this point. I just wanted it to be done!
Luckily, a bath and block helped even out the worst of it. I loved working with this yarn. It’s Yarn Tree, which is discontinued now, I think. I used 2.25 balls out of the 10 I bought years ago on Ebay. I’m so glad I have another bag of a different color for another project some day.
* I just realized I almost never curse on the blog. This is odd because those who know me in real life can attest that I curse like a drunken sailor. One of my super-powers is creative blasphemy, in fact.
Because you know what? It’s MESMERIZING. Seriously! I thought for sure working a washcloth in fine yarn would get old really fast, but I find that I’ve been very much enjoying it. All weekend I click-clicked away at it and my only trouble was remembering if I was on the Wrong Side 1 or Wrong Side 2 version of the working row instructions. Get it right and the result is this utterly charming fabric you see here. Get it wrong and you’re tinking back lots of little stitches to make it right. I saved myself a lot of hassle when I remembered to keep a coin by my chair that I flip as I finish each row. Basically, you either K1, S1 to end, or you K2, S1 to end. Knit right side rows. Simple.
And yet… look at that fabric! I liked it just fine in the photo from the pattern website, but mine looks lacier, more like a honeycomb. I think it has to do with the fact that I’m using fingering weight yarn and size US5 needles. I wanted a light, drapey, elegant texture, and boy is that what I’ve gotten. Even the back-side of the fabric looks pretty. I keep petting it as I work on it.
Steve suggested that I was almost done since s of yesterday the fabric was almost square, but I think I want to make it more of a rectangle, like a hand towel, than a washcloth. Since I’m enjoying the making of it, why not? That does mean I’ll probably only make one, however. I’m ok with that though. I’m not sure if they’ll ever get used by the recipients, so I don’t want to go overboard.
I wish you could feel this yarn. It’s dreamy.