WIP

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.

The Languishing Get Love

The gift Katy, she is done! Well, it needs a bath and a lay down out on the driveway, but done for the most part. In plenty of time, too. I finished up last week, well ahead of schedule. I really wish I could properly block it, but I know the limitations of my chosen material and I’ll deal. The Teen Minion should be happy, though it’s so heavy she won’t get to wear it until winter.

 

yarma_medium2

My second teal Katy, and my fourth overall.

 

For a couple of days I gave my travel projects some love while I decided what to make next. Travel projects?  Yes, there are two, and long have they languished. The first is that pink/multi garter ruffle wrap I started ages ago. I’m just about ready to start ball four? I think it’s four. I love how stretchy and weird the wrap is. No way is it actually “wrap” size, even with blocking, due to the fact that I chose sock weight yarn to work it in. It’s more of a dramatic scarf width. If for no other reason, I’ll always remember this project fondly for inspiring me to figure out how to purl backwards.

 

Remember this?

Remember this?

 

Also coming along ever so slowly are my Sock Monkey socks, so called because of the color and wide striping of the yarn. I really should say sock, not socks, since I’m not even to the heel of the first one. See, this is the reason I lust after a CSM. I love wearing handmade wool socks, but I’m super slow at knitting them. I’d much rather knit a shawl or… a shawl. With a CSM I could make a pair of socks a week if I only set aside a few hours on one day therein. Sure, they’re cranky (literally and figuratively), but the draw is like a siren’s call. The next time I have $1,000 hanging around

The Ten Minute Rule

Yeah, I’m at it again. I’m working on yet another Lazy Katy, but in my defense, this time it’s for a gift. I have a friend who has a birthday coming up, and the young lady really, REALLY loved my handspun teal Katy. Since that one’s mine, and she’s more of an acrylic girl, I’m making hers in Caron Simply Soft. I didn’t really want to make it in worsted weight, but the color is the closest I’ve ever seen to the brilliant dark teal of the original, so there you have it. Also, easy care yarn is a plus for a young person. The end result will just be more of a cold weather shawlette/scarf than an airy warm weather accessory.

 

photo

As you can see, Sammy likes to “help” when I knit. By help, we mean look incredibly cute and get in the way.

 

I’ve got a week to finish this up, but I’m not sweating it. I’m halfway through the border chart already and I should be done this weekend. Plenty of time to give it a soak and gentle “block”. Yes, I know it’s acrylic and it won’t really block per se, but it still does help even out the stitches and such. Because of this I chose to go up two needle sizes on the lace border. This will help the lace be more noticeable, as much as possible anyway.

Moving on to my epic spinning project, I need to set up my wheel and leave it ready at all times. I need to enforce a strict Ten Minute Rule if it’s going to be done anytime this century. If you know me, or have ever heard me talk about spinning to new spinners, I’m a big proponent of the Ten Minute Rule. Ever heard of it?

Everyone says they have no time, but in reality, we do. We can set aside ten minutes a day if it’s important to us. That repetition, even for so small an amount of time, helps build the muscle memory you need to become a proficient spinner. More is better, of course, but even that little bit adds up. Applying this rule to projects is another tool in my tool box for when I’m struggling to finish up or make time.

I’ve got ten minutes, and so do you. What will you do with yours?

But For the Blocking

Huzzah! True Love, she is done. Now all that’s left is a good block, which will most likely have to wait until after I get back from the Massachusetts Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend. I finished it up Monday night and had plenty of yarn left to spare. Not enough for another repeat of edging, mind you, but enough that I can happily call the shawl done and decide who the recipient will be.

Do you ever knit or crochet something just for the fun of it? While most of the time I make things for myself, I often make gifts for friends and family. However, I’ve never made something without knowing who it would go to ahead of time, so this feels strange. It’s going to be glorious once it’s blocked and I know that whoever gets will have to love it. How could they not? Well, at least not as long as I pick someone who likes lots of bright colors. Come to think of it…

 

Boring, but trusty.

Boring, but trusty.

 

I probably won’t start anything new while I’m getting ready for the show. I have a travel sock that’ll fit the mindless knitting bill well should I want to stitch. Most of the time I just spin at these shows anyway, and it’s not like I’ve been pouring on the fiber these days so that’s good. Circe misses me, I’m sure. I’ll swap out the bobbin of roving I’m working on for some of my own fiber and demo something soft and pretty.

If you’ll be at the show please make a point to stop by the booth in Barn 5 to say hello. I’ve said it before: I love meeting readers and customers. I might even hug you, so watch out. Oh, and as always, if you wish me happy birthday you’ll get 10% off your order (not valid with any other offer).

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