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.
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?
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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?