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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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?
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).