WIP

Momentum

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.

Thankfully, much of it can be done from my recliner.

Thankfully, much of it can be done from my recliner.

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.

Starting to come together, finally.

Starting to come together, finally.

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?

Sock Surgery

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.

Look at those floats!

Look at those floats!

 

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.

 

So much yarn for such a small stretch of knitting.

So much yarn for such a small stretch of knitting.

 

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.

 

As of this photo I hadn't fiddled with the stitches to even them out more.

As of this photo I hadn’t fiddled with the stitches to even them out more.

 

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.

Not Dead, Yet!

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.

 

Sock Monkey Socks

Sock Monkey Socks

 

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.

 

Brushfire Clapotis. Sorry for the horrible image quality!

Brushfire Clapotis. Sorry for the horrible image quality!

 

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.

 

Woodrose Fritillary. Isn't it purty?

Woodrose Fritillary. Isn’t it purty?

 

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.

Better Late?

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.

 

The hat in progress, brim folded down.

The hat in progress, brim folded down.

 

 

Brim folded up. Super warm!

Brim folded up. Super 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.

Totori(ish)?

Totori(ish)?

 

Hey, I tried.

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.

Following My Arrow

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).

 

A BFL/nylon sock base I'm testing out. Truffle and Lichen.

A BFL/nylon sock base I’m testing out. Truffle and Lichen.

 

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.

 

Clue 2A atop 1B.

Clue 1B.

 

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.

 

Clue 2A atop 1B.

Clue 2A atop 1B.

 

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.

 

Clue 3B

Clue 3B

 

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.

Post Rhinebeck, Past Due

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.

 

Friends make my heart very, very happy.

Friends make my heart very, very happy.

 

The booth was better than ever this year, and it's all thanks to my friends and family who helped me so much.

The booth was better than ever this year, and it’s all thanks to my friends and family who helped me so much.

 

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.

 

It was... wonderful.

It was… wonderful.

 

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.

 

Yay for Cotton the Sheep!

Yay for Cotton the Sheep!

 

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 cowl in progress.

The cowl in progress.

 

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.

A Special Kind of Madness

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.

 

 

That's my man, in his Deceptacon t-shirt, overflowing with awesome!

That’s my man, in his Deceptacon t-shirt, overflowing with awesome!

 

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.

 

If you squint just so it's TOTALLY a sheep.

If you squint just so it’s TOTALLY a sheep.

 

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.

 

I'm actually further along, I swear.

I’m actually further along, I swear.

 

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.

Ride the Chinese Wave

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.

 

It's coming along nicely!

It’s coming along nicely!

 

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.

 

She looks good coming AND going.

She looks good coming AND going.

 

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.

Summer of Gifts

I’ve been knocking out the gifts items lately, which actually has been a theme for this year. I’d have to look back at my project notebook on Ravelry to be sure, but I think I’ve made a lot more gifts this year than I normally do, and certainly I’ve not bucked my norm and haven’t waited for autumn and “holiday knitting” to do it. I think it’s mostly to do with my new baby relatives. Actually, I’m sure it’s mostly to do with them.

Some have turned out better than others, but my recent gift projects have all taught me something valuable. For instance, this Ten Stitch Twist baby blanket in Aran weight yarn from JoAnn’s. Definitely a pattern I’d do again, but next time I’d like to do it in a brighter color with higher contrast color changes. You know, like Noro, but baby friendly. I also feel like it needs some kind of border. What do you think? Perhaps an i-cord? It’s a very bulky yarn, and acrylic, so that doesn’t really lend itself to lace. I won’t see the family it’s for any time soon, so I have time to figure it out. For now, I’m calling it done.

 

 

Done, for now.

Done, for now.

 

While I worked on the blanket I also worked up a couple of washcloths that ended up more like pot holders. They were supposed to be for my brother and his wife, who have recently moved to Minnesota, but now I’m not sure. The idea was to send a package with the washcloths and some nice handmade soap. I couldn’t find natural colored cotton yarn locally in anything lighter than worsted weight, and since they’re crocheted, I think they came out rather bulky and ungainly. I’m pleased with how they came out of the wash though. They were a little coarse as-is, but since the yarn (Bernat Handicrafter ) is 100% cotton, I had a feeling it would wash up nicely. They’re soft to the touch now, but I have no idea what to do with them now. Anyone want them? I’d happily mail them out to the first person who thinks they’d give them a good home.

 

Two slightly rustic washcloths(?)/hotpads(?) up for grabs.

Two slightly rustic washcloths(?)/hotpads(?) up for grabs.

 

Take two will be made out of this MUCH softer, finer, and more elegant yarn I got on a recent visit to Trumpet Hill. I nearly pounced on the last two of three balls she had left in Cream. The yarn is Bamboo Pop, by Universal Yarn, and it’s fabulous! The blend is cotton and bamboo, which gives the yarn a silky, buttery feel. It seems to be plied individually which means if you look very closely at the yarn you see how the color takes differently in the cotton and bamboo strands, and there’s a bit of shine. I’ve cast on for a knit washcloth pattern that is more traditional in shape and has a light texture. It’s the second option out of this set, the green one (Chinese Linen stitch).  I already want to make ALL THE THINGS out of this yarn, but unfortunately it only comes in tropical/baby friendly colors, and not the muted and jewel tones I prefer. Still, baby gifts? Oh yes.

 

It's like buttah.

It’s like buttah.

 

And yes, I’m still working on the Aleatha Shawl; also a gift. I’m into the modded “let’s make the leaves grow out of the spine more organically” part of the project, which means I’m in uncharted territory. And have I mentioned it’s not charted? I know, free pattern. I shouldn’t complain. I hope to have this done in time to submit as a dark horse to Rhinebeck. It’s not going to be a show-stopper, but I really don’t have much to submit this year, unfortunately. We shall see.

 

Alethea shawl in the sunset glow.

Aleatha shawl in the sunset glow.

Round and Round

The shawl I’ve been crocheting looks exactly the same, but I cannot say the same for the baby blanket I’ve been knitting. It’s gotten much, much bigger! Thank YOU, Aran weight yarn! I’ve never used JoAnn’s Sensations Rainbow Classic before, but I’d definitely do so again. The color changes are slow and pretty, though hard to photograph with my phone. I don’t know what you’re going to see on your monitor, but in real life it’s white-spring green-sage-spring green and back to white.

Round and round we go!

Round and round we go!

 

The blanket is getting large enough that my giant skein is starting to deflate. We’ve gone from this:

 

They start out so little, don't they?

They start out so little, don’t they?

 

To this:

 

It's feeling a little deflated.

It’s feeling a little deflated. Flat as a pancake now!

 

Perspective might be playing tricks in that first picture. That’s a full 227 grams of Aran weight yarn. It’s originally similar in size to a curled up cat. It looks a little sad now, doesn’t it? I usually prefer to work from the outside of a skein but when working with one this huge, inside out is better. Except for the yarn barf. It’s so annoying to have the yarn get snagged deep in its own bowels and then you end up yanking out a big wad of yarn you then have to straighten out. Yarn barf, it’s a real thing.

Still, I like the yarn. Yeah, yeah, I hear you wool snobs. It’s squeaky, it’s plastic, it’s cheap, it’s nasty… blah, blah, blah. I say this yarn is soft and pleasant to work with, if a little splitty due to the low-twist two ply construction.  The mom is going to be very pleased with it, I know. The ironic part is that my other WIP, the minty green shawl, is being worked in a Merino/Tencel base that I hand dyed. Best of both worlds, people.

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