True Love still isn’t done, but she will be done later today. I’m literally that close! I had a bit of a setback earlier in the week. Here I thought three whole skeins of Noro Silk Garden Sock would be more than enough, but alas, it wasn’t. I was halfway through my last row of the 2-wheel version of the edging and bam. No more yarn. What to do? Was I going to spend $20 on another skein, plus shipping? Not happening. I bought my initial three from Little Knits for $10 each, and cheap-ass me wasn’t going to put any more money into this shawl. You know what happens then… rip, rip, rip.
I ripped back to the first row of wheels and started the picot edging. Have I mentioned how damned annoying a bazillion inches of picot are? I feel I should, that it’s an imperative I warn the unsuspecting how annoying picots are en mass. I have the same lack of patience for picots that most people have for nupps or kitchenering closed their sock toes, both techniques I strangely enjoy. Anyway, I’m down to the last foot of edging and I know that it will be done tonight. As long as my little ball of reclaimed yarn doesn’t fail me.
At this point I’m actively struggling with what to make next. I have two stalled shawl/scarf projects right now that I really should get back to, and the travel sock (which doesn’t count). The Madrona shawl (you remember that, right?) has languished forever and if I’m going to enter it into Rhinebeck I need to get a move on it. But first, I must finish True Love and figure out who I’m going to give it to as a gift. Who does it remind me of?
Trying to make the best use of the time I have right now, I’ve been putting more work into Bittersweet. There’s a bunch of yarn left over from last year that needs to find new homes and it’s not going to get there languishing in the stock bins. My mom came by a couple of weeks ago and we did a full inventory of the stock, the first step towards getting these pretties out of the house. Next up was trying to sort my product photography issues out, and I found a tutorial on Pinterest that did help some. Said bunches of yarn came out of the bins and I set to work.
The tutorial has definitely helped. The pictures didn’t come out as perfect as I would have liked, but they’re definitely better. All this led to hours of post production and, happily, a shop update. You can see everything that went up here. I expect to do another update this coming Friday night as well, and I’ll try to make a habit of it for so long as I’m home, and so long as it takes to get every single skein in stock up there. Not a bad goal, and one long overdue.
Know what else is getting done? Dyeing. I feel good about that. Show season isn’t far away for those of us with Spring events. I love the fact that this year I’ll have even more great stuff to make customers squee. That’s my purpose as a vendor, if you didn’t already know.
When I’m not working on business stuff, I’m knitting on my sweater. It’s coming along, slowly but surely. Pain levels have been high, which saps my knitting mojo, or at least slows it down. Still, not too long before I start the transition section, and then the lace begins. I wonder… do I keep the pattern in the pattern, or choose another from one of my stitch bibles?
Hand knit socks bring a bit of every day magic to my life. As someone who can’t seem to get warm during the winter months, it’s comforting to give my feet every benefit that warm wool knit to a nice tight gauge can provide. Like warming armor for my feet. Since I’m home still, I’ve been getting a lot of knitting done in between looking for work and getting some business-to-do’s off my list. Just the kind of situation that enables a pair of socks that languished on the needles since September to leap off and into action. Go, go, magic handknit socks! There is snow on the ground and feet that need you.
These were knit in Plymouth Zino, which is rather like Knit Picks Chroma Fingering. Not the sturdiest of yarns, but I bought it from a Ravelry destash for $5 including shipping. Good enough for around the house in slippers. One thing I noticed as soon as I finished knitting these socks was just how similar they are in color to my last pair of socks, the Gemstone pair. Oops. I’ve already got the yarn picked out for the next pair of socks and you can rest assured they’ll look nothing like the last two. Say hello to Patons Kroy Ragg. I already know and love Kroy FX, but instead of changing color in long slow waves, these will have distinctive stripes in a rather sock monkey-esque look. The yarn is sitting on my entertainment center right where I can see it every day so I don’t get distracted by other skeins. Sock Monkey Socks, you will be next. That is, after I finish my sweater.
Sweater? What is this sweater I speak of?
I figured now was a good time to do something I almost never do, namely, knit a sweater for myself. It didn’t take long to decide on Hermia, long in the top 20 of my Ravelry queue. Top down, cardigan, with a bit of interest in the body. I chose yarn I’d purchased years ago, Plymouth Encore Tweed, back when I could hit up the O’ Dark Thirty sale (as I call it) over in Great Barrington, MA. I have a strange fascination with tweed yarns, especially those that have neutral flecks instead of clown colored bits. I had bought the yarn in sweater amounts in both black and a middling lavender color. My goal being to make an every day sweater, I chose the black. I would like to add that now that I’ve actually knit in a tweed, I’m less in love with the effect. Not enough to rip out, but enough that I don’t think I’ll buy more. And why an acrylic/wool blend? Because I want this to be a sweater that can survive the washing machine and a LOT of wear.
I’m quite a bit further along than what you see here, and have since divided for the sleeves and set those stitches aside. I’m being careful about fudging and fit since I’m using worsted weight yarn and the pattern calls for DK. One of the joys of top down is that I can try it on as I go. That, and the pattern is so simple that it won’t be much trouble to fit the lace pattern into my stitch count.
One thing I haven’t been doing during the month I’ve been home? Spinning. I feel kinda bad about that, so there’s nothing for it but to make time (now that I have it).
Would you believe that I designed and knit a scarf shawl in a weekend? I’m kind of shocked myself, even if it was knit in worsted weight yarn and size 11 needles. Still! A design and knit in a weekend? Woot on me! Here’s how it went down.
I found myself done with Nuala’s current dog sweater, but without the silver yarn I needed to embellish it. So, what next? No one else had gift knits in the mental queue, at least not off the top of my head. While searching for the silver yarn I came across a bag of JoAnn Fabrics yarn I brought home a while ago, some of Red Hearts new Boutique line. Yes, you read that right. The yarn is an acrylic/wool blend in a cabled construction, and I fell in love. Eclipse and Midnight both feature long color shifts of (mostly) one color from dark to light, but Eclipse also has a strand of sparkle blended in. Bulkier than the yarn I usually knit with, I imagined an accessory that mixed the plum and blue yarns together somehow.
Yarn chosen it was now time to figure out what to make. A cowl? Nah. I hate pulling them over my head and wasn’t feeling the love. What about a mini shawl that’s worn as a scarf? You know them, they’re really hot these last couple of years. That I could do, and in a bulkier yarn with a solid body it would work up quickly and be warm. My goal was to meet the following requirements:
- Warm, with a solid body and just enough bulk to fill out the neck of a winter coat
- Unisex, without any fussy details that a fashionable guy would balk at
- Quick, but possibly written up in sock weight yarn too so I could promote Bittersweet yarns
- Curving “arms” to wrap around the neck
Bam! I had it. The image I came up with in my head was just the thing. I mean, it’s not like it’s rocket science… the design is very simple. At that point I just had to figure out the sequencing for transitioning from the main body color (plum) to the blue/green. Steve helped with that as I wasn’t up to the math. By Sunday night the body was done and all I had to do was figure out what kind of simple, unisex edging I would use. Why not a knit-on i-cord in the main color? Perfect.
I was hoping the shape would work out more Faroese/curly wing like, but it definitely meets my design requirements. I’m going to try doubling the numbers and sending it out to a test knitter or two in my sock yarn. If I can get a couple of volunteers that are able to communicate as they go about how the math and sizing works out then I could have the pattern for sale at a modest price for the new year!
Watching handspun yarn complete its transformation from squishy rope of hand dyed wool into thousands of tiny knit stitches is so satisfying. This fiber, a bluesy-purple BFL, was dyed by my friend Carolyn and spun by me a couple of years ago right about this time. Then it went off to competition and won a 3rd place ribbon at Rhinebeck before going into the handspun cabinet in our dining room. There it’s sat, patiently waiting to become. Then there came a day when I needed a yarn that could work up not too bulky when knit double… basically, the finest lace yarn I’d ever spun. We had a winner.
The yarn is being knit into a gift shawl for someone this Christmas, someone who will appreciate tiny stitches and many hours of work. The pattern is called Lazy Vicky, by Brigit Freyer. You’ll remember her name, perhaps, as this is the fourth pattern by the German designer that I’ve knit. The “Lazy” series of patterns are mostly smaller shawls, but all of them are considered “easy” with little patterning aside from the edge. That didn’t stop me from making a compound error right from the beginning and straight through to where I finished the body of the shawl. Turns out the symbol I thought meant twisted stitch actually meant twisted stitch increase. Two per right side row missed, each of the 48 right side rows.*
So, my shawl may end up being a very strange shape indeed once it comes off the needles, but given how the yarn has been spit spliced from single to double stranded every 8 rows or so, there’s no way I can really rip back 96 rows and start over. I’m short stitches, but have fit the border in just fine (repeats of 10). Will it be a long, shallow curve? More of a rectangle with wings? I dunno, and I’m not sweating it. I’m on a gift making tear and I won’t be derailed by little things like rookie mistakes. As long as it looks better than freakish when it’s done and blocked I’ll consider it a win.
*Note to self (AGAIN): Read the damned pattern all the way through. I really should know better, but apparently I’m nothing if not consistent.
Can someone please tell me where November went? ‘Cause I swear to you it was just Halloween, and now Thanksgiving is next week. There’s a time-worm in my head, eating up the moments when I’m not at work or sleeping, I swear. Next thing you know it’s going to be Christmas, and we can’t have that. I need a minute, you know? I can’t really complain though, because no matter how time seems to fly, it’s good to have my evenings back for the most part. It’s good to feel yarn between my fingers in the evening and to have rediscovered my spinning wheel. I am happily planning out my holiday gift making, and not stressing about the money like I was last year. Nothing much has changed on that front, but as I’ve come through the other side of a several-months-long bout with depression I find that my mood is much improved. I’m able to see what’s possible, instead of just what’s not.
On that note, it’s funny how my internal gift switch flips right after Halloween and all of a sudden I must MAKE ALL THE GIFTS! Zoom-zoom, look at me go! I’ve knocked out a baby sweater, baby blanket, cloche, and most of a shawlette/scarf and November is only halfway done (this is the weird flip side… have my hands sped up?). This is very pleasing, very pleasing indeed. What’s next? Definitely another shawlette for a friend, perhaps Lazy Vicky (cousin to Lazy Katy), maybe in handspun? Other than that, I’m not quite sure. I know that Steve is always angling for another pair of socks, but I don’t have access to a CSM anymore and oh the horror of knitting man-socks at my rather slow speeds. Perhaps something else hand made entirely? Whatever I decide, I’ll have to decide soon.
The Whirlpool Scarf is working up very quickly in this yarn (Jawoll 6ply) and I’m really sweating how much yarn I have left. I was just cruising along for quite a while before I remembered that I needed to start the border sooner rather than later, allowing for modding since my yarn is different than what was called for. So, right now I’m pretty sure I’m going to run out of yarn and then I face the angst of reconciling the very steep price tag against needing just a ‘few more yards’. First world problems to be sure, but pertinent as I traded for the first skein and haven’t budgeted for more. I really hope I don’t have to rip it back and mod the hell out of it further. Crap. I just talked myself out of doing anymore work on it since in my heart-of-hearts I know I don’t have enough yarn. Crappity crap crap.
Guess I’ll have to start the next project instead to take the sting out of it and save the frogging for another night when I have more intestinal fortitude.
Some long term readers may have noticed that I used to take a lot of pictures of rug hooking at festivals. Not as much now that I’m vending more often, but still, I have a burning fascination with the rug hooking. There’s just something about the colors, the texture, the primitive and yet elegant designs. And then there are the ubiquitous crow/pumpkin/moon/stars themes. It’s like wooly crack to me. This is the year I finally found someone selling a kit for less than $50, in a design (sheep) that I liked. I picked up said kit at the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival and set it aside for “after show season”, when I’d have more time in the evenings.
Sunday night, after I returned from the New England Fiber Festival, I set aside the baby blanket I’m working on and picked up the kit. Now, I’ve watched demos for years, and tried it once hands on, but I’m in no way trained. Still, I was armed with a basic sheet of instructions and my memories, so away I went! My first impressions:
- My hook is too fine for the width of wool in the kit. I bought it separately not knowing any better, and it kind of mangles the wool.
- This is really, really easy to do. It’s the tensioning and making the loops even that comes with time.
- It would be even easier if I had a real hooking lap stand and wasn’t fighting with the unsupported basic embroidery hoop. As these are not cheap, home made might be in order should I continue.
- This is a great, mindless TV hobby, and I definitely want to do and learn more.
- This was about two hour’s work for me. Not bad!
At first I wondered “what would these things be? Wall hangings? Pillows? But I can already see so many ways to make gifts and home decor items that I don’t worry about having a lot of useless end-products hanging around the house. Coasters, hot pads, placemats, table runner, wall hanging, rug, chair cushions… Yeah. I might just be in love. I just need to remember to take it slow and pace myself. I am one woman, with two hands, and two jobs. Now, to get some books. ‘Cause, you know… it’s not like I don’t have enough books in my craft library.
Tuesday night I wove in the ends on two – count them, TWO – finished gift items, and then cast on for a third. I’m on a roll, baby! Not a moment too soon, I might add, as the yarn for the next gift was waiting for me when I got home, but that’ll get its own post. Anyway, it’s gift crafting season and I aim to make a good showing for myself so long as my hands hold out and my schedule allows. In amongst the rush, however, is a lesson for those of us who like to make gifts for the ones we love. Take your time, and read directions. To wit…
The project I cast on for last night is a simple yet clever shawlette calls the Whirpool Scarf. I’m knitting it for a gift in Jawoll 6 ply, a sport weight Noro-esque yarn in blues and grey. The pattern is inexpensive and simple to knit. You can tell by the picture and only one page of instructions, plus chart. Seems easy enough, right? I scanned my pattern, followed the written instructions for the garter tab setup, and then pulled up the page with the chart, comparing against the “row 1” written instructions. Well, huh. The chart has row numbers up both sides and across the bottom. And wouldn’t you know the written instructions don’t match the chart at all. WTF?
Let me tell you, this shawlette isn’t rocket science. It really is simple, and the chart itself (numbers aside) isn’t asking for mental acrobatics. I asked my friend Wendy, who is learning to read charts, does this make sense to you? She agreed with me, it seemed off. I probably wasted 20 minutes just trying to figure out why I couldn’t make sense of the chart vs. written instructions before I gave up and decided to just go with the written. After that, no problem. I just repeat rows 5 & 6 over and over again for 60+ total rows. Mindless.
Cue today when I just happen to skip ahead to the next set of instructions, just out of curiosity.
“… work edging chart.” Edging chart. Edg-ing cha-a-a-art.
This is why you read the pattern all the way through, especially when the written instructions are only a single page long. Entirely user error.
Now that the show season is over (unless I get a last minute call), it’s like there’s room to breathe again. Phew. What now? There are business plans, that’s for sure, but now it’s time to focus on holiday knitting and crocheting. I’ve got… plans. I can think of at least two gift projects for sure, but don’t think I’m not wishing for a CSM. I had a friend who cranks out socks for all the giftable relatives and I think it’s very good idea. Who wouldn’t want warm wool socks waiting for them under the tree, handmade in a different fashion, but made with care and skill all the same? As I am a slow and achy knitter, my closest loved ones have to settle for quicker and easier projects.
Best of all result of show season being over? We went and adopted a new cat. In fact, we adopted two! Meet Sam and Dean Winchester, aged 8 months and 2 years, respectively. Sammy, the small grey one with the white chest patch, is more reserved, but affectionate and likes to sleep on my chest. Dean, the large grey and white one, is like the War Machine of Love. Or, as Steve puts it, Pimp Cat. He’ll beat the love out of you. He’s referring to the fact that Dean will head-butt you in the mouth/face, lick you, nibble on you, pretty much anything he can do to let you know that he NEEDS YOUR LOVING, NOW! The Winchester boys play nicely, sleep together peacefully, and don’t fight over food, treats, or laps. We couldn’t be happier.
I’m just shy of being done with the current baby sweater on the needles. All that’s left is to weave in the ends! Sammy felt the need to investigate, as all good kitties should. I’m giving this little sweater to Steve’s cousin’s baby boy. I guess that makes him Steve’s second cousin? So many babies are either already here, or coming soon, including our niece-to-be! She’s due either early (fingers crossed for not) or in December. As the niece is already well crafted for, I have to focus on Leann’s little girl due about the same time. She’s so easy to make for as she’s not picky about yarn content and appreciates just about anything. Not to say I won’t work hard to make something beautiful, but if I fall in love with a synthetic, she’s ok with that too.
And of course, there’s still the Madrona shawl. I’ve neglected her so, but with so much work to do, I’m not surprised. I had good intentions… She’ll get done though. Over the long, dark winter there’s time to devote to a project so beautiful and so long term. Then there’s the fact that the sooner I’m done with Madrona, the sooner I can start Berkanan & Leaves, the fancier-edged version of the Berkanan Shawl. People lost their minds over the sample of Berkanan that Gini knit up for my Rhinebeck booth, and I can’t wait to have my own.
Other than that? Spinning. I dimly remember that I have a wheel or two calling my name. With my Fantom Farm Romney stash replenished, I’ll be happily busy for months. What are you looking forward to making over the winter? Any big plans?