I really should mention here that the business website has been up and running for a few weeks now. It’s so pretty that I almost don’t mind all the work it takes to keep it fed! The response has been overwhelmingly positive as to the new look and ease of use, and just excitement that you can now shop for Bittersweet products all year ’round. I’m looking forward with anticipation, hoping that this will be a step in the right direction towards making it all my full time job.
My ‘designing it as I go’ sock is coming along nicely. I’ve turned the heel and started a patterned ribbing that I think will look nice with the yarn. It would look even nicer in a yarn that wasn’t variegated, but if I decide to publish I’ll have someone work it up in a nice semi-solid so that stitch really pops. For my own use? I don’t mind and it’s a nice change from the plain stockinette socks I’ve been making for quite some time. It’s strange, how sometimes socks seem to take me forever and sometimes they just fly along. Even with having to rip out work a couple of times because I’m designing on the needles, it still feels like these are coming along faster than the plain socks I’ve worked in the past. Perhaps it’s because my hands and wrists aren’t giving me grief at the moment? I should take advantage of the momentum and get working on that Flower Child top that’s been tickling at the edges of my awareness for a week or so now. I figure maybe if I mention it almost every time I blog then I’ll finally do more than just the first few stitches of the first section.
And then there’s the dyeing that’ll be starting this weekend. I have 147lbs of yarn on the way. That’s a lot of yarn for someone like me. Most exciting of all? There are three new bases in there to play with. Can you say, fun?
You know what’s fun? Sock surgery. I’m not being sarcastic, either. I really do like the challenge of fixing a problem without having to undo a couple of days of knitting on size 0’s. It makes me feel like I’m in control, and I shall not be thwarted. Except I was thwarted, and that’s why I needed to perform sock surgery. That’s what happens sometimes when you design on the needles.
So, I was trying to design a simple lace mesh motif that started from a V-shaped point about midway up the foot of my sock. It was going well for a while until I got to the part where I wanted it to stop getting bigger and just travel upwards in a straight line. It seemed to be pulling in, forming a diamond shape, despite double checking that I had even increases and decreases. Most frustrating. Then I figured out that my point wasn’t centered either. Gah! At that point I’d had enough and just wanted a plain foot, so I dropped down.
All went well with the dropping and the re-knitting, but despite tightening my stitches and doing my best to even them out, the fabric is a bit distorted. It’s to be expected with the switch from lace to stockinette, and I have faith that it’ll even out further after a bath. I’ll also be making this the sole of the sock, vs. the top. What I can’t see won’t bug me if things don’t even out as I hope. Now let’s hope that my plan for a mesh ribbing go better than the fancy V thing did.
I should mention that the yarn is my own, Glamour Gams MCN HT (merino/cashmere/nylon, high twist) in the colorway, Bouquet. I don’t normally “do” pastels, but I wanted to knit something that wasn’t blue or red/maroon/plum. I’m in love with how it’s knitting up, and how the color does that water color thing I love. Happy knitting, happy feet.
I seem to have stalled on the project front, which is sad since I’d been getting along so nicely lately. My shawl is suffering from neglect having reached the (roughly) halfway point. Longer rows, fuzzy (warm in my lap) yarn, and the same three row repeats over and over have conspired to sap my will to work on it. It might be time to lay down the law and force myself to work on it during my lunches so I can finish it sometime sooner, rather than later.
Projects that might be infinitely more appropriate to our SUDDENLY SUMMER weather include the ubiquitous pair of simple socks and the Flower Child top that I’d swatched for a few weeks back. Yes, I swatched. It’s a minor marvel. My gauge is off slightly, but I’m the kind of fast and loose knitter who’s just going to go up a size and see how it goes. This may, in fact, be madness as the top isn’t a straight forward construct. Instead, it’s like a puzzle. As the Dowager says, “I see you, too, like to live dangerously.” The yarn is Knit Picks Cotlin in Pomegranate. The little nub of knitting on the needles is the start of one piece of the puzzle, set aside some weeks ago.
Also upcoming, I’m co-hosting a WWKIPD event on Saturday, June 14th! World Wide Knit in Public Day is a long-standing event whereby people who like yarn go do yarny-type things in a public space, usually in groups. ‘Cause it’s way more fun with friends and friends-to-be, of course! If you’d like to join my friend Avigayil, myself, and other fun fiber minded people you can find us at the Riverfront Park in Athens, NY from 1-5. The Ravelry page for the event is HERE.
Time, it’s run away from me again. That is mostly to do with work being very busy, getting struck down with a “mild” case of pneumonia, and… re-launching my business website. I’m taking Bittersweet online for real this time, and I can’t look back. It’s been a lot of work getting everything set up, and then the photography (oh, the photography). You can read about it here, if you like. Memorial Day is going to be a big day for us, we hope! Fingers crossed.
There’s been plenty going on the knitting and crocheting front, no worries there. It can’t be all work, all the time, or I’d collapse into a rather large puddle. Did I mention that I finished a pair of socks back in January? It only took me 9 months. These are my Plain Jane Sock Monkey Socks, named so because they’re a plain sock, done up in what I call the “Sock Monkey” colorway of my beloved Patons Sock. They are sturdy, warm, and perfect in every way. I even got the stripes to kind of match up, at least in a width sense! Woot.
I also cast on and finished my second Clapotis. I made my first back when the pattern was fairly new, several years ago, but it was a gift. This one, knit in Noro Kureyon Sock, is all mine. I call it my “Brushfire Clapotis”. It was the perfect take-along knitting project, much like a sock, only not quite as mindless. Still, I rarely had to refer to the directions once I got going, and once I switched to non-fiddly stitch markers, I was golden. Note to self: Do not use removable (crochet) stitch markers with thin yarn projects. They’re annoying.
High on my list to do this weekend, if at all possible, is to finally block my Follow Your Arrow shawl. Remember that? Yeah. Been done for months and it still hasn’t been blocked. I think I might give it away as a gift, before or after Rhinebeck competition I’m not sure. I like the colors, but they’re not screaming my name. Who knows, maybe it’ll grow on me once it’s blocked.
My current project is another crocheted shawl, this one also in Patons Lace (acrylic/mohair). It’s in the Woodrose colorway, which gets compliments everywhere it goes. The pattern, Fritillary, is free on Ravelry. Joy of joys, it’s charted! What a difference it makes, let me tell you. I’m about halfway done, perhaps a little further, and I’ll most likely give this one away as a gift too. Can’t give it to mom, though, she’s angling for one in the blue version of this yarn. I aim to please.
Despite the fact that it’s already spring, I am in fact still plugging away at my replacement hat. I’m stymied at the pattern I wrote up, however. Something rotten in Denmark, otherwise known as the lace portion of the top of the hat. Considering I was never really in love with that part I do believe I’m going to rip out my faltering attempts to recreate this nonsense and knit it plain. I would like to wear it at least ONCE before it’s too warm.
Normally I’d be done with the hat long since, but I’ve been struggling with pain lately. Namely my arms and hands have simply said, “nope, nope, nope”, while giving me the double bird flip-off. I haven’t knit in days, but at least I was really cranking it out up until this flare-up! The Follow Your Arrow shawl is done, but needs to be blocked, and I even made a Totoro(ish) for my boss. The amigurumi fits in the palm of your hand and is a belated Christmas present. She doesn’t mind how wonky he looks. Hey, I tried.
Once I have the hat off the needles I’ll be contemplating what else to cast on to accompany my Clapotis in the WIP queue. I’m pretty sure it won’t be anything ambitious, not unless I’m feeling better. Still, an on-the-go sock is always welcome. Winter will always come again and my feet appreciate the fruits of my labor. I might jump off the deep end and cast on for a special project I’ve been planning for quite some time.
Flower Child, by Norah Gaughan is one of those patterns that haunts you. It has that charming mix of clever construction and clean lines that works on many figure types, and that flower detail! So lovely. I purchased the correct yardage in a substitute yarn (Knit Picks Cotlin) in a gorgeous Pomegranate color (wine/red). I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a ton of fun to knit with due to the 100% plant fiber nature, but as long as it fits well I can tell you right now that I’d wear the hell out something like that.
So… we’ll see. First I have to finish the damned hat. No grumbling here, I swear.
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.