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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The blanket is getting large enough that my giant skein is starting to deflate. We’ve gone from this:
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.
My right now is full of the icy, barely green-ish white yarn. It’s quite minty, if you like. It wasn’t on purpose, it just happened to work out that way. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever looked down at your WIPs and discovered you’ve got a whack-ton of varying shades of blue in the queue? Funny how that happens. It makes me wonder if I don’t sometimes sleep walk through yarn selection.
Let me introduce you to the shawl I’m working on right now. Meet, Aleatha. I’m working on the modified version, wherein the spine-to-leaf sections are more gracefully merged. The mods were graciously documented by a crocheter on Ravelry, huzzah! The shawl is a gift, a SUPER SECRET gift, with no particular deadline. That’s good, because the Tour totally knocked it out of my evening craft time rotation for the last month. The yarn is my own Afterglow, in the Betwixt colorway. I was going for Iceling, which is pale mint and white, but this instead. Happy accidents and all.
My next introduction is a baby blanket born of desperation. We have a family member who’s due to have her baby any minute now and I don’t have anything knit up for her gender-unknown child. Enter my other pale green/white yarn, purchased at JoAnn’s at 50% off. I love the Sensations Rainbow acrylic. It’s very soft, has long and slow color repeats, and is a great value, even at full price. At $5 for a ball bigger than my head? It’s fabulous. I needed a gauge-less project due to the bulky weight of the yarn, and the Ten Stitch Twist Blanket was the perfect fit. It looks complicated, but as long as you know how to do short rows it’s really actually very simple. It would be much more exciting in Noro, but perhaps another day.
I will say, however, ten-stitch garter-stitch short rows make me VERY happy I taught myself how to purl backwards earlier this year.
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.
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.
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…
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).