Knitting

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.

FO: Swirl Hat (Raspberry Beret)

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My ill fated, Raspberry Beret.

 

There are few things quite as disappointing as spending a lot of time and effort to make a project, only in the end having it not be the project you actually wanted in the first place. It’s like that craving conundrum: what you really want is chocolate, but there isn’t any in the house. So you eat a bowl of cereal, some fruit, and maybe something else too, only to find that you’re not really satisfied because you STILL haven’t had any chocolate. My Raspberry Beret (Swirl Hat) was exactly like that.

 

It seemed to be going so well! Done in Bittersweet Woolery, Ingenue, colorway Sanguinas.

It seemed to be going so well! Done in Bittersweet Woolery, Ingenue, colorway Sanguinas.

 

Several years ago I designed, what is for me, the perfect hat. It’s called the Modern Mob Cap*, and it solves all my Huge Head/Hair Clip hat issues. With a slouchy, rasta style body and a fitted, double thick brim, it really is everything I need in a hat. The slouchy body allows plenty of room for my very long hair (held up in a hair clip) without distorting a more fitted hat and stretching it out. It’s actually very flattering for me, whether my hair is up or down, and I love it. The only problem is, I can’t find it. It’s MIA during the coldest winter we’ve had in years. Not only couldn’t I find it, but I didn’t have any worsted weight yarn in the right colors either.

So, what do I do? I stash dove for a pretty garnet colored skein I dyed last year and spent hours over the course of two days looking for a crocheted hat I could make instead. I started and then discarded at least three different versions until I found one that I liked that was both FREE and CHARTED. You’d think I was searching for the Holy Grail. Finally, I found a vortex-like lacey pattern that appealed to me. Relatively quickly, I had a finished beret.

The thing is, it isn’t the hat I really wanted, and it’s certainly not the hat I need. It’s lacey, for the one thing. Yeah, that wasn’t particularly well thought out. It’s also more fitted than I would like, despite a fairly strong blocking. Lastly, crocheted brims suck. It doesn’t have the stretch and give that a ribbed brim would. Poor little beret. It’s not the beret’s fault, not really. It’s my own for not going to the store and buying the yarn I needed to make the hat I should have been making in the first place. This is what happens when you don’t listen to your heart and try to make do.

 

My Modern Mob Cap, with all my hair tucked in (waist length at the time) and in a clip.

My Modern Mob Cap, with all my hair tucked in (waist length at the time) and in a clip.

I have since purchased the yarn I need in the colors I want. I’m doing it in acrylic this time because the one thing I never really cared for with the previous hat was that the merino yarn made my forehead itch. When I finish up my current projects (or at least one of them) I will be immediately casting on for the hat my head and my heart long for.

 

* This is a pattern I have written up and will be finally be publishing this year. It’s only been written up for five years already!

FO: Sock Monkey Socks

Oh, blog, I haven’t forgotten you. And I’m really sorry for those who have stuck around and still look forward to reading this here dusty blog. Holidays, health, and lack of vim and vigor. That’s my tried and true story, and I’m sticking with it. While I haven’t been sharing my projects here, I have been busy! Let’s move on to the sharing stuff, shall we?

I’ve made a BUNCH of stuff since the holidays. What kind of stuff? Well, I made a dinosaur, a replacement hat for the Husbeast, a lacey crocheted hat for me, and I FINALLY finished my PAX East 2013 socks. That would be from late March of last year. Yeah, those socks. The ones I call my Sock Monkey Socks.

 

 

Glamour Shot, the first.

Glamour Shot, the first.

 

To say that I am happy to have these socks off the needles would do a disservice to the feeling. I am ecstatic. During the coldest winter we’ve had in years, I have a brand new pair of warm, wool socks in an earthy and cheery colorway. There’s nothing quite like a brand new pair of hand knit socks, people. Those of you who make socks, you know what I’m talking about. The yarn is Patons Kroy, for those who are curious. Kroy is one of my favorite sock yarns because it’s sturdy, durable, and comes in fantastic colors. Note that I didn’t list soft, but also note that my feet don’t give a flying fig about that.

 

Glamour Shot, the second.

Glamour Shot, the second.

 

 

Glamour Shot, the third.

Glamour Shot, the third.

 

Someday, probably a very long time from now, I will own a CSM (circular sock machine) and I will crank out oodles of socks. And lo, it will be a beautiful thing. For while I love wearing hand made socks, I’m super slow at making them and can’t stand making them for anyone other than myself because of that. If the yarn fairy could drop one off at Tiny House it would be like doing a public service for my family and friends. We need more socks! Just as Steve, he’ll tell you.

Done, With a Side of Also Done

So, you all know that once late summer hits it’s all about the autumn show season and time to DYE-DYE-DYE, right? I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been dyeing here and there all year, but this is when shit* gets serious. It’s also a money thing. Jersey is a very good show for me and so I take that influx of cash and pour it right back into Rhinebeck. Speaking of Jersey, you can read my show wrap up over on the business blog here. The dyeing starts in earnest this weekend and I hope to be done by the end of the month so I’m not rushing like crazy the weekend before Rhinebeck. Wish me luck.

 

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Aleatha Shawl (with mods, crocheted).

 

Our crab apple tree is so helpful.

Our crab apple tree is so helpful.

 

In the meantime, I’ve finished up some of the WIPs I’ve had hanging around for the last few months. First up, we have the Alethea Shawl (with mods). What a PAIN IN MY ASS this shawl was. I pretty much winged it for the most part. I really, REALLY hate non-charted crochet patterns. Like, with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. If I had the software I’d have tried charting it on my own, but that’s neither here nor there.

 

Be honest, it's always all about the border for you too, isn't it?

Be honest, it’s always all about the border for you too, isn’t it?

 

I ended up with probably 1/3 of my skein of Afterglow left over. I’m going to put it in for competition at Rhinebeck, even though I don’t think it’s “show stopper” quality. You never know and it’s just $2 either way. This one is a gift, and I have a sneaking suspicion that SOMEONE opened their pie-hole and told the recipient they’re getting it. Maybe. I’d rather it were a surprise but even if it’s not at least I know the person already loves it.

 

Vogue Ruffled Wrap. Which, when done up in sock yarn, is actually more of a scarf.

Vogue Ruffled Wrap. Which, when done up in sock yarn, is actually more of a scarf.

 

Next up is the Vogue ruffled wrap that I started god knows when. I decided it was long enough sometime last week and that I really didn’t like the squared off, abrupt ending to each side. So, I made a decreased point on the working end and picked up my cast-on stitches on the other. That ended up looking kind of fugly but I’m past caring at this point. I just wanted it to be done!

 

Ruffles were done in short rows, and I learned how to purl backwards for this project.

Ruffles were done in short rows, and I learned how to purl backwards for this project.

 

Lots and LOTS of ruffled short rows.

Lots and LOTS of ruffled short rows.

 

 

Luckily, a bath and block helped even out the worst of it. I loved working with this yarn. It’s Yarn Tree, which is discontinued now, I think. I used 2.25 balls out of the 10 I bought years ago on Ebay. I’m so glad I have another bag of a different color for another project some day.

* I  just realized I almost never curse on the blog. This is odd because those who know me in real life can attest that I curse like a drunken sailor. One of my super-powers is creative blasphemy, in fact. 

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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