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…
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).
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?
You and I both know that it’s been a very long time. If you’re still here reading, you might have wondered what has happened that I haven’t done a real post since January. I could share the whys and hows and where-to-fores…. but let’s just say it’s been a long, dark winter and leave it at that. I’m happy to feel happy *now*, and I’m loving the beautiful weather. What’s a great way to take advantage of great weather? Dyeing, drying, and blocking.
Don’t you know, but there’s a satisfaction in hearing the pots start to ping and steam in the kitchen while I slowly move implements and yarn in combinations that make stitches happen. Once I get over the hump of “so tired”, I’m always glad that I’m dyeing. Even if the pots fight me and something is taking forever to exhaust, I’m glad that I’m dyeing. I’ve been fooling around with new combos and more complicated colorways over the last few weeks and the results have been very happy-making. Even more satisfying is trying out new-to-me bases that I’m considering carrying in the future. It’s like playing, in a way.
As for blocking, well… let’s just say I’ve been a very bad girl for a very long time. I amassed quite the backlog of shawls that were all finished but for the blocking. It’s shameful to admit it, but one of them was from last January. As in, January of 2012. What was THAT about? I have no idea, really. All in all I had five shawls and shawlettes that needed a go on the mats. I bit the bullet one sunny day last week and just did it. I blocked the first one, set it out on the driveway in the sun and an hour and a half later it was dry. So on went my day until every single one was done. Gotta love radiant baking heat and direct sunlight. Those shawls practically vaporized.
It feels good to get things officially finished and then move on to something new. Whether the new is something that’s only just caught my, or something that’s been sitting in my queue for years, I love that feeling.
I made this. I will now make something new.
Gotta love the feeling of being able to breathe, now that the holidays are past. Ours was really good, all three Christmases back to back of them over three days. Sometimes it feels like too much, but family that lifts you up is important. The best gift of all was having my father home from Puerto Rico for Christmas, with nary a travel snafu to brag about. Christmas Day travel can be brutal, but he got here with time to spare and we had a really good day filled with friends and family.
On the crafting front, a lot of these were made:
These little buggers were the BEST quick-stitch gift to put into our gift bags with the homemade vanilla extract. People were really taken with them! It’s really just a modified granny square, folded in half and seamed up. Clever, and very cute. I found the pattern on Pinterest. I was so pleased that I had Christmas-y colors of yarn in my stash. Going out and buying new wasn’t possible, so it was with great relief that I found these classy versions of the holiday color trinity. The yarn is Patons Classic Wool in Winter White, Burgundy, and Moss. Each one took roughly a half hour to make, including weaving in 8 ends per stocking. Next year I want to make them in fingering weight wool for a more petite look.
In between working on those little cuties I got a full 50g ball’s worth of the Ruffle Edged Wrap done, and have moved into a second (you can see the tails in the photo). Let’s just say it’s a good thing that I’m not anal retentive with this project, because wow… big difference in the two balls, though they are the same dye lot and bag. Just goes to show, even the mills have trouble with this kind of thing. I don’t mind, really, not with this wrap. The progression are all part of the fun. When it’s done you’ll not be able to see it from the back of a galloping horse, not like you would if it were a sweater. I think that a full four balls of yarn will be enough for me to call it done, but we’ll see.
And lastly, I am working on a pair of baby crocs for my honorary niece. Crocs, as in Crocodile Stitch Boots! I’ve admired Crocodile stitch for a long time, and let me tell you, it’s kicked my butt learning it. Just the beginning and ending of certain rows. The stitch itself, I get! I love the look, and the yarn is silky, vibrant, and 100% machine washable. The yarn is busy I know, but leftover in my stash. Mom loved the pattern and wanted me to make them for little Zoe. I may do a pair up in a longer color change yarn anyway, I must have fine weight Noro like yarn that’s machine washable and has the same long repeats in the stash. Amy, if you think they’re ugly, let me know now and I’ll consider these practice and do them in Noro or something. Trust me, it’s ok.
So, that’s what’s keeping my hands busy while I try not to worry. No luck on the job front yet, but I’m submitting to everything that seems doable, and making plans for Bittersweet come the new year. These are the things I can do, and that counts for something.
The gift knitting and crocheting is just rolling off my fingers and I, for one, am very pleased! I’ve just finished up a set of little Flower Motif Baby Booties in Vanna’s Glamour and I couldn’t be more pleased. The idea was to use this smooth, sparkly, black yarn to make a pair of baby girl shoes that look like a crocheted version of a little girl’s patent leather dress shoes. The finished soft shoes are absolutely adorable and I would definitely make them again. I call this a success.
The gift sewing isn’t going as quickly as I would like, but I hope to rectify that over the weekend when mom comes to visit on Saturday. We’re going to do some holiday sewing, she with her new heavy duty machine and me with mine. I bet I can knock out a few sets of pocket potholders after we’re done decorating Tiny House’s Yule tree. I can’t wait to show her how nice the bottles of vanilla extract I made are coming along… you could totally bake with them right now and they’re only a couple of weeks old. Oh, and I thought my bottles were 4oz. Turns out they’re 8oz bottles. No wonder I went through so much vodka! Whoops. Extra bonus. I have to say, knowing that I’m giving really lovely gifts this year makes me happy.
You know what else is really great? Feeling all right. Being on an even keel. Feeling this way during the holidays? Unheard of! Even though nothing much has changed and all the same stressors are still here, I don’t feel like I’m moving through freezing molasses anymore. Will I have a job when this temp assignment runs out in a few weeks? I have no idea, though I’m doing my best to get something (anything) lined up. Am I still kinda lonely sometimes? Yes, but I have plans here and there with friends and I’ll enjoy spending time with them. Taking stock of the facts, there are so many things I have no control over and any one of them could knock me into another downward spiral. But for right now, I’m feeling good and feeling grateful.
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?
Oops. There went September. There’s been a lot of yarn and fiber goodness going on, but there’s also been a new temp job, and a show, and getting ready for Rhinebeck. Oh, getting ready for Rhinebeck. You’d think I hadn’t been dyeing my heart out all year to look at the state of things. Since my last post was a show post, how about I flip things around and do a personal project post instead? Let’s catch up on what’s on the needles.
I whipped up two baby jackets in August/September. One was for Amy, which I think I already talked about. Her little girl was born recently and I’m so happy for them! Zoe’s jacket was very spring-time colored in a pink and green colorway (Picnic) from Knit Picks in their Felici Sport yarn. It’s soft, silky, superwash wool and nylon, and cute as a button.
The second version was done up in a carnival of color (Gemstones?) and I love it. Mom and Steve think it’s terrible, but I love how rainbow and carnival colored it is. The yarn is Debra Norville’s Serenity Garden, a microfiber yarn that feels very silky and is machine washable, no wool content. This one has less flair because I omitted a panel by mistake, but the mom it’s going to won’t mind. My niece-to-be will be drowning in handmade between myself and all the other crafters in Steve’s family.
Now that I’m working away from home again progress has slowed to a crawl. I work on it in the evenings, in between dyeing. It’s not going to be finished in time for submission to Rhinebeck, so all hopes rest on the Midsummer Nights shawl in that regards. Madrona’s going to be amazing though, when it’s finally done. I’m still in love with the yarn base and colorway, and can’t wait to introduce it at Rhinebeck. Anyways, back to the shawl. I’m halfway done with the first of the two ‘arms’. The arms are actually kind of boring after all the drama of doing the first section in the round and then major rescue mission. Did I mention the rescue mission on the blog?
See, I kinda screwed up one quadrant of the circular first section. I screwed it up badly enough that I was going to have to either rip out a full 16 rows back, or I was going to have to do a drop-down surgical repair. As in, drop down 16 rows across 45 stitches. If it worked, I wouldn’t have to rip out a week of dedicated, stay at home knitting out. So I went for it. I put in a life line, struggled with understanding where I was in the pattern and what I needed to do, got almost to the top… and then realized I’d messed it up still. Out it all came again and I’d wasted 3 hours of repair. Off went the TV and back to work I went. Two hours later and I’d done it! I felt so incredibly clever. Rather bad ass, if I’m honest.
Plane Jane Sock
Now that I’m done with the baby jackets, I needed something mindless to work on at work and when out and about. The easiest thing to fall back on is a Plane Jane Sock. It’s much further along now. I’ve turned the heel and have just about reached the point where I have to decide what I’m doing with the cuff. I think that I might turn them into a Fascine sock, though I’m not sure if the tiny faux cables will show up well with the slightly furry, single ply yarn. Speaking of yarn, it’s Plymouth Zino. Think Noro or Knit Picks Chroma fingering weight. It’s soft, with lovely transitions, and will felt up on the sole after a single wearing. I am ok with this. These are not ‘forever socks’.
So, that’s what’s on my needles. What’s on yours?
This weekend has been just what a tattered soul needs. The weather has been balmy and sunny during the day while dipping into chilly at night. Dyeing has been a pleasure, and while I got a lot done by the end of the weekend, I didn’t punish myself either. You know, if every weekend could be like this I wouldn’t mind at all. Thanks, Universe. I needed that. It felt like one of those weekends that stretches on forever, which we all know is pretty rare when you’re having a good time.
Dyeing? Oh yes, there’s been quite a bit of that. I had more than a few skeins of yarn from different dye days that needed another dip or two to reach their full potential, so yesterday was mostly about taking care of that. Ingenue can be particularly tricky that way. Between the density of the single and the very different fiber contents (merino/silk/alpaca), it can be difficult to get the results I’m trying for, especially batch to batch. I’m pleased with the way things shook out though, and doubly so that I had time to try out the two new base yarns I ordered. One is a 100% silk lace weight, and the other (also lace) is a 50/50 Falklands wool/Tencel blend. The silk is really interesting. It’s a smooth, cabled yarn made up of four strands of two ply yarn twisted together. The resulting yarn is almost like a cord and much thinner than my usual lace weight. Given how strong and smooth it is, I’m thinking weavers would really enjoy working with it.
I’m really bummed that the Falklands/Tencel lace is a limited edition yarn for that supplier and I don’t think they’ll be getting more. I dyed up two skeins for a sample project and will definitely be buying more if it works up well. It has a really interesting hand, almost like a mohair/silk blend, but with a more sublte halo and no prickle that I can discern. I can’t wait to try it. Instead of the charcoal I thought I’d be using for the next shawl up to bat, for some reason I dyed this yarn a blue/grey. I’m not sure where that came from, but I bet it’ll be beautiful.
Most exciting thing that happened this weekend? I finished my Midsummer shawl and ‘soft blocked it’. That means we couldn’t make room in the living room for the blocking mats with all the winding going on so it got laid out on the driveway instead. Here’s a little teaser pic before the formal FO post:
I’m hoping to carry through all the good from this weekend into the week, which is going to be intense. It’s my last week of work with the State and my last day is Wednesday. I’m not sure what to make of it all, but I have my fingers crossed that the job I interviewed for on Friday pans out. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I met through my current assignment, and I will miss them very much. I’ll be leaving work and then heading out the next day to the Bittersweet Retreat. I’d have to cancel the whole thing if but for two things: First, that would suck for the other guests and they really don’t need me there to enjoy themselves, and second, the trunk show pays for me to be there. I think I’ll need it more than ever this year.