Knitting

Yarn Along – Head to Head Hippos

Of course, you’ve already met my Ravellenics Hippo, and now meet the knit version, Knit Hippo!

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How cute are they? KnittyD did an excellent job with her knit hexagons and pentagons – the colors are really beautiful in person – they really sparkle like the jeweltones they are.

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As you can see, there’s quite a size difference, but I don’t think that’s the pattern so much as the yarn choices and gauge. Both are fingering weight yarn, but KnittyD knit hers on size 1 needles. I don’t remember the size of my hook, but the fabric is like the equivalent of being knit on a 3 or a 4.

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Photos don’t really do these guys justice. They are so squishy! Someone at the yarn store asked what we were going to do with them, and we just stared at her – what do you mean, what are we going to do with them? Love them, duh.

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What are we going to do with them, please.

On the current knitting front, I finally wound the Miss Babs that perfectly matched my already underway Islay cardigan.  Unfortunately, when I tried to figure out where I was in the pattern, I had no idea – totally lost.  When I had some non-t.v. quiet time to spend with my knitting and the pattern I realized that I couldn’t figure out where I was because I had knit the decreases for the wrong size, and I didn’t have enough stitches between markers.  Oospy.  So, I unknit back to the right number of stitches, and I should be able to go from there, hopefully.

On the crochet side of things, as predicted, I did run out of yarn.  I thought I had enough to get through all of the Lotus Moon Tiles, but alas, I ran short on the second to the last row.  So, I have 9/12 Tiles complete.img_2014

 

And, in a moment of success, Dark Matter finally became available from the library.

The beginning, at least, is edge of  your seat excitement.  The only reason I put it down last night is because I just had to go to sleep, I was head bobbing into my Kindle screen.

So, that’s that the fiber/reading report for the week!

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Yarning Along, Again With the Hook

When last I left off, I had run out of yarn for my Shetland Trader, Islay. While I sweated it out (literally and figuratively, as the weather has yet to get the message that summer is winding down) waiting for my yarn to arrive from Miss Babs, I decided to do a stash dive, and once again, attempt to finish a crocheted afghan.

Enter the Lotus Moon Tile CAl from Polly Plum. I’ve been an admirer of Polly since the Sophie’s Universe MKAL, when I cribbed her RBG colorway scheme. I like her aesthetic, and I was happy to find a project to distract me from the “will it or won’t it work” thoughts/dread surrounding the pending arrival of my non-dye lot skein of Rainforest Yowza What A Skein!

Of course, stash diving into a work in progress stash means accepting that the first project is no longer a project but a fail. And, I’m ok with that. I did enjoy the mystery/round by round aspect of Sophie’s Universe, but in the end, I didn’t like that it wasn’t really done when the MCAL was done, unless you wanted a finished small square. The pattern totally provided alternatives for borders, additional blocks, growing the project, etc., but I didn’t realize that’s where it was going when I started, nor how much additional work it would be. Eh, excuses – I just know in my heart I’m not going to finish either version, so I might as well use the yarn.

So, here is the baby produced by my two attempts at Sophie’s Universe, which is a mix of Valley Yarns and Michael’s Impeccable.  Yep, wool and acrylic, call me crazy.  The Valley Yarn wool is sooooo much easier to crochet with, and much easier on the hands.  Also, as you can see I’m using a generic metal crochet hook, and I’m really feeling the difference after I spoiled myself with the Clover Soft Touch with the hippo.  I may just suck it up and buy the whole set of them, we’ll see.  Crazy talk again.

Unlike Sophie’s Universe, which was a mystery CAL, Lotus Moon’s entire pattern is available from the start. The CAL is set up in weekly bunches of rounds, with accompanying video tips and tricks from Polly. You can work at your own pace, or work on the CAL schedule. I aspire to catch up to the CAL since I started a week late. The CAL is into week three, and I’m halfway done week 2, so pretty good progress!

I feel like if I went to the store, and actually picked my colors, I don’t think I would have gone with the rust color that I’m working with now, and instead of the lighter grey, I would have used a cream maybe. But, that’s about it.  Hmm, maybe I’d trade in the dark grey too, I’m not sure.  Polly just started another that uses cream for the big petal round, and I like that as well.  Doesn’t really matter though, does it – it’s well underway!

I may run out of the rust, but that’s easily, stressfree replaceable, and I may run out of the forest green, but again, an easy peasy color to get another skein.

See, Junie B isn’t worried at all!

Actually, she looks a little worried.  Huh.

And, drum roll! My Miss Babs arrived and its PERFECT!!

It’s so identical I’m wondering if this was a color they just did for Sheep and Wool and this was the last of it. But, I’m not going to wonder too long – I’m just going to wind it up, and get a move on!

 

As far as reading goes, I have nothing really to report. I had started Outlander on Starz, but then we cancelled our Starz subscription. So, I thought I’d try to get back into the books, but that meant rereading the first book, which I read over twenty years ago, and I’m not feeling it. While I was enjoying the show to a certain extent (not as much as a LOVED Stranger Things, poor Barb), I just don’t think these weighty historical romance tomes are for me anymore. But, today is payday, and I’m heading to the Amazon store, I think to buy the new Jeffrey Toobin book on Patty Hearst – I think I’m committed, but I may change my mind before I hit the buy button. Especially since I’m only one person away from securing the library’s digital copy of the new Blake Crouch novel, Dark Matter. We’ll see what happens first.

Until next week!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Yarn Along – Until the Yarn Runs Out

Now that the Ravellenics Games are over, and fall approaches (totally wishful thinking!), I’m back on board with knitting, and I cast on my Miss Babs from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  Who cares is 90+ degrees out?  Pshaw!  There’s never a bad time to sit with a pound of wool on your lap, right?

This will grow up to be The Shetland Trader’s Islay.

Well, that’s the plan at least. But to grow, you need yarn, and yarn, weeeeeelllll – I originally bought this yarn for another sweater with a different gauge. And then, I was seduced by the Shetland Trader cardigan, and based on my eyeball estimation, it looked like the same amount of yarn to me.

And why did I trust my eyeball?!?!   My eyeball is constantly off on gauge, has trouble with right and left, and isn’t allowed to drive a car since my eyeballs are bad drivers. Bad eyeball!

I definitely need another skein of this hand dyed yarn.

Yep, hand dyed, purchased at a festival probably one of a kind yarn.  I do have another skein on the way, and I can only cross my needles that it’s close.

The color is more accurate in the above photos than these two, which I shot really quickly this morning with only light from my dining room chandelier.

So, here’s where I am, and as you can see from the hanging tail, I’ve finished my first skein of Yowza, and I still have finish the left side, upper back and upper right front of this piece. So, I’m sure my second skein will get me through that, and I’ll use the incoming skein for the sleeves.  I guess if it’s a crap match, I’ll . . . I’ll think about that when it happens.

On the reading front, I finished Richard Price’s The Whites.

Since we’re deep into HBO’s The Night Of, co-written by Richard Price, and years ago, I read Clockers, I was really looking forward to sinking into a dark Price world, but unfortunately, this wasn’t his best.  In fact, it’s pretty stupid.  While the events that take place in the book certainly would be some detective’s fantasy, it’s the not the gritty realism I was hoping for.  And the big reveal in the end is pretty much a whole lot of nothing.  In any event, at least it was quick read.

Now, I’m reading Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday, which is a novella about a Downton Abbeyish maid who becomes a writer.  Her story is revealed through a framework of  interviews of her in her 80’s and 90’s, interspersed with the events of one day, a Mothering Sunday, from her “maid days” that shaped her.  There’s a lot of writer craft talk, about words, language, giving things names, and meaning, and it brought me back to a short story class I had in college where my professor was into all things meta.  The Amazon review refers to it as “luminous, intensely moving tale,” and I don’t think I’ve been intensely moved, but I have enjoyed it so far.

So, that about wraps it up for this week!  Linking up with Small Things Yarn Along!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Maryland Sheep and Wool 2016

Knitters, High Holy Day of Wool, has once again come and gone.  This year, Knitty D, Momma Bach and I piled in the Beagle Mobile, and headed down to a soggy Howard County Fairgrounds for the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Once again, we headed straight for the Miss Babs booth, with our wishlists and our credit cards:

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Holy moley – here’s the line at Miss Babs.  Actually, it wasn’t nearly as bad as last year’s, but it was pretty drizzily.  We tag teamed shopped and waiting in line, and of course, we came out triumphant, with our gradient kits, and my Yowza:

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The light green skeins, Beachscape, I have in my arms are not actually the Yowza I went home with.  It was so crowded, I spent maybe five minutes in the booth.  I grabbed the gradient kit for the Spice Market Shawl, and then I went around the back of the booth to the wall o’ Yowza.  I grabbed the first two “identical” skeins I could find that were to my taste, and got in line.  Later, after we had paid, this fantastic peacock colored skein caught my eye, and I started to feel bad about my Beachscape.  Towards the end of the day, when the booth wasn’t so crowded, I went back and asked the nice ladies of Miss Babs flock if I could exchange the skeins, and they said no problem!  Yeah!  So, this is what I went home with:

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How much more spectacular is that blue!  And can you believe it – that’s my sheep and wool haul – Miss Babs and Socks that Rock.  I stuck to my list, and was such a good girl!

So, the weather was kind of meh all day, but we had a good time.  We visited with the sheep, alpacas and the goats.

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How much does this sheep, Adelaide, love me?!?

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The sun came out, and so did the ice cream!  And, after the festival, it was off to Woody’s Crab Shack for the most awesome seafood nachos, and of course, hard shells.  Originally, I only ordered 3, but Knitty D was like, 6, you so need six.  So half a dozen it was – and I clobbered them all.  Love me some Maryland Hardshells!

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Good times, my wooly friends, good times!

Until next year, baaaaahhhhhHH!

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And the Yarn Goes On

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December through the end of February I knit like a mad woman, faster than the wind. I don’t know if its because I ran out of gas, or because it’s a crazy 70 degrees, or maybe I really want to be crocheting or perhaps needling around with some embroidery, but I’m definitely in a meh knit period. I pick up my current knitting, and say, meh.

Here it is – I feel like it’s sapping my energy just posting a photo of it –

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It’s a cabled, short sleeved hoody in bulky Valley Yarns – its soft, it’s easy, and I don’t know why I’m so ambivalent.  I have the back, one front, and half another front done, and then there’s just the button band, and the hood.  I know that if I were conscientious about knitting it, it would be done.  But instead of knitting in front of the t.v., I find myself dropping my knitting in my lap, and scrolling through pinterest, or Ravelry or my Feedly feed.  Maybe it’s because I had yarn in my stash, and I found a project that worked with it, rather than finding a project I loved, and then buying yarn to suit the project.  In any event, let’s take a look at one pleasing, one not so pleasing finished objects:

First the pleasing finished shawl.  This is Ashby in Berroco Vintage.  I bought this yarn when I was sort of broke, and I really wanted new yarn, but I really didn’t want to spend any money.  Berroco Vintage is a great compromise – it’s 50/50 wool/acrylic blend, and it’s really inexpensive – $9/220 yards, something like that.  And, while it doesn’t feel like the pure wool Shelter, it does feel nice – it’s soft, the fabric is squishy, and the color really pops.

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Funny I should mention Shelter – the sweater I’m wearing in the below photo that you can’t really see is Shelter.

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As you can see the cable reads well, the modified seed stitch looks good – a really nice bargain yarn.
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And, now the just ok pleasing finish – this is Marsa Alam by Isabelle Kraemer in Briggs & Little. If you want cheap – Briggs & Little is a Canadian Company, the yarn is pure wool, it’s totally itchy scratchy, and I think I bought it for $4/200+ yards/skein at Maryland Sheep & Wool last year. After finishing up Wickerham in Miss Babs, and then this – I think I’m over the yarny yarns, the itchy scratchy’s, for a little while. I love being a purist, but there’s nothing wrong with soft merino. Anyway, this ended up being not the most flattering fit, and I fudged a bit too much knitting the shoulders, and they ended up coming to a point as if they had had hangers shoved in them. I tried to round it out in the blocking process, but it’s only so so.

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Horizontal stripes were probably not the best idea, but oh well.

On the reading front, I’ve been lost in Italy since the beginning of January, committing myself to reading and finishing Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. I’ve finished the first two, My Brilliant Friend, and The Story of a New Name. Now, I’m reading, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third book of the four. I can’t even tell you why I’m reading them – I can’t say that I love them, but I must know what happens. The novels are the story of a friendship between two women, who’s lives have gone their separate ways, but who will always be intertwined nonetheless. There are endless chapters about Elena studying hard at school, about Lila working at the grocey, about meeting boys day after day at the beach – it really is an Italian telenovella. Obviously, there’s more going on than a simple soap opera, but there are days in my quest to finish their story when that’s about what it feels like.

So, with two months to go until Sheep and Wool, hopefully my knitting mojo will come back.  Oh it won’t, and maybe I actually won’t spend a small fortune in Maryland.  Right.

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Yarning Along the Stephen West Way

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I have jumped on the Stephen West bandwagon, and I’m riding high on the #WestKnitsKal2015 knit-a-long, The Doodler!

As I mentioned, I watched Stephen’s class on Craftsy while doing the Craftsy binge, and while I’m still raising an eyebrow (or two) at some of his designs, I’m trying to embrace his wild and free aesthetic.  I knit Daybreak in a flurry to wear to the Chargers game last week in Baltimore:

The Chargers, of course, managed to lose in the last 18 seconds, as they did again on Monday night football, but at least I do really love my shawl/scarf.

Even though I had just finished a successful WestKnits project, I was on the fence about signing up for the KAL because the last time I was onboard for a WestKnits mystery, the mystery was a big bummer – intarsia!  Ick.  So, hesitantly, I hit the buy now button on Ravelry, but I didn’t cast on until I saw a few wedges popping up on Ravelry, and I thought, ok, I’m good with this, and here’s my Clue 1:

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As you can see, I tried my hand at a “flat lay.” Flat lay?  I’m so not hip – I had no idea that those highly stylized, collage photos you see on Instagram actually have a name, but then I stumbled onto Emily Quinton’s feed, and her video, Styling a Flatlay.  Even during the height of my photography frenzy, I never really styled a photograph – I was more into slice of life photography, and I still am, I guess, even though my Project Life is totally at a standstill.  I’m so far behind, I’m frozen.  But, I digress.  The flat lay.  When I posted my first snippet of my Doodler on Instagram, I went to sleep, and woke up with 60 likes!  For me, that’s like being picked not last for the kickball team!  I decided to step up my game a bit, and try the flat lay.

I have to admit, I had some troubles.  I just don’t see what flowers and leaves have to do with my knitting.  And, while so many of these photos use lovely wooden backgrounds, my wooden background just looks like my kitchen floor to me.  But, I embraced the concept – it’s all about pretty I guess, and I went to work.

Here’s Olive – of course, she has an opinion!

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In any event, my stylin’ needs some work.

But, back to knitting – My Doodler is part Cascade Heritage Sock, part ToshSock.  That unwound skein of orange is going to be my color 3 for that big wow color pop that is so characteristic of WestKnits.  So, I await Clue 2 on Friday, and I’m curious to see where it goes.

On the reading front, I’m reading the new Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike novel:

According to the Kindle, I’m 25% in, and I’m enjoying it as much, if not more than the first two.  I love a consistently good detective series, and J.K., er I mean, Robert Galbraith, does not disappoint.

Knit on everyone!

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Yarn Along – Post Traumatic Knit Disorder Cured!

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So, as I mentioned on Monday, I’ve been doing some serious Craftsy binging as a result of a crazy $10/all you can watch month of October.  So much so, that I even started to feel guilty that I was watching too much . . . but then I got an email from Craftsy reminding me that I only had 11 days left of my open month, and that I should eat up.  So, there you have it – more Craftsy!

As part of  strategy to get the most out of my $10 (and believe me, I’ve definitely gotten the most of my $10), I decided to watch the classes that were not on my wish list, but classes I woudn’t have thought to buy – and for the purposes of this yarn alongy post, I’m just going to talk about the knitting classes.

First I dove into Cut Your Knitting, Strand and Steek with Confidence.  Now, I’ve cut my knitting several times, but the last time I cut a steek, it went horribly awry, and I ended up having to cut an extra inch out of the cardigan to straighten up the I don’t know how it got so crooked cut I made.  Huh, maybe I’m not the clever knitter that I thought I was.   After that bad experience, I developed a little post traumatic knit disorder about cutting my knits, and when I finished Kate Davis Bliathin well over a year ago, I put it away to cut another day.  And, that day came after watching Strand and Steek.  I immediately turned off the Craftsy and pulled out my burried cardigan -thinking, it’s now or never.

The class covers three different ways to secure your stitches before cutting – sewing with a sewing machine, and two different crochet methods – a slip stitch crochet method, and a single crochet method.  I opted for the single crochet method.

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Success!  At this point it was 10:30 p.m., and the common sense knitter in me said, it’s late, cut tomorrow.  The devil knitter on my shoulder said, no! it’s now or never!  Get the scissors!  So, I did:

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Ta da!  Easy peasy!  I sighed with relief, and undertook the rest of the finishing the next day.

Stranded and Steeked then goes over three methods of finishing the steek, including sewing decorative tape over the folded back edge, securing the edge with an overcast stitch, or tacking it down with a blanket stitch.  Kate Davies, however, provides her own method of securing your steek, which she calls the sandwich.  So, I went with her method, figuring she’s the expert.

For the sandwich method, you pick up stitches on both sides of the work, first the front, then the back.  You knit 6 or so rows, and then, when the fabric has  grown over the crocheted edge, you knit the two flaps together, sandwiching the cut inside.  This took a long time, and I’m not sure it was worth it.  The stitches are definitely secure, and the edge is very neat, but it seems a little bulky, since there are now three layers of fabric – the two pieces of “bread” and the steek filling.  If the edge had been folded back and sewn, there only would have been two layers.  But, it’s a bulky sweater (Bartlett Worsted yarn), so it’s all good.

And, here it is:

There’s that bulk I was talking about – and the icord bind off.  Kate Davies loves her icord.  The entire cardigan is bound of with applied icord.  I definitely had a repetitive wrist injury (I was just stiff and sore) after finishing it.
  
Because the sweater is so heavy, it took forever to dry.  But, once it was, I bought some nice wood buttons, and I’m ready to sew them on.

But, um, where did they go? I have misplaced the buttons I just bought, darn it! I’m sure they’re going to turn up. Right? They’re just in the house somewhere. Yes, they are.

Anyway, Steeked and Stranded definitely put me back on the cutting horse.  I have to admit, I didn’t watch the colorwork section – I know how to read color charts, and how to knit with multiple colors and get a nice fabric.   And that doesn’t mean I’m doing it the “right’ way, I’m doing it my way, and I’m happy with my way.  I know that there are faster ways, but I’m ok with my pace.  In fact, there are a few classes on Craftsy about knitting faster – one on continental knitting (I pick and throw) and one on Portuguese knitting – but you know what, I don’t need to knit faster.  It’s not a race.  I’m not test knitting for anyone anymore, and I’m not on any kind of deadline.  I don’t need to knit faster, it’s all good.

So, once I finished my project, it was back to the binge.  Here’s a run down of the other knitting classes I slurped up:

Design Your Own Cowl.  In this class, Laura Nelkin explains how to design cowls that are knit flat, cowls that are knit in the round, and moebius’s.  I have to say, this class is filled with generosity – she not only does she provide the  math for you for every type of cowl you want to knit, she provides templates for creating a pattern, so that you can use her math with your creative idea, and sell your own patterns.  If you’re interested in design, and what goes into creating your own pattern, this class is for you.  This class lead me to two other classes – Moebius Knitting with Cat Bordhi and Getting Gauge, Perfect Knit Fabric Every Time.

First, Moebius Knitting.  I really had no idea that moebius knitting had its own cast on.  I thought, it you put a twist in kntting in the round, you had a moebius.  I am wrong, as Cat explains.  In Moebius knitting, you learn, and visual understand the construction of moebius, the moebius cast on, and applying moebius construction to not only cowls and scarves, but baskets.  The biggest a ha moment however, came when Cat was demonstrating how to bind off a continuous edge on a cowl, so you don’t get that nubby thing when you pull the yarn through the last loop.  She reveals that that method is really a crochet thing, not knitting, and to finish knitting, it’s no more complicated than pulling open the last stitch, and pulling it tight – because only your working yarn is actually moving – and you can pull it into a knot with the last stitch.  Voila!  It was really a miracle like moment.   Anyway, I am totally motivated to design my own moebius now,  and I’m definitely going to watch the moebius cast on part of this class again before I lose my access to the class at the end of the month.

To further supplement and reinforce what I learned in Design Your Own Cowl, I took Getting Gauge.  This class was just ok.  There are a bunch of little projects designed to show you what a pattern looks like in different weight yarns, different size needles, etc. to give a visual demonstration of gaugue.  This, to me, is a waste of yarn.  The only section of the class that I really had a lot of takeaway from was the actual lessons on measuring gauge, which included two different methods and accompanying worksheets.  So, I got what I needed from the class to help me overcome my magical/wishful thinking getting gauge nonmethods, and get the right size fabric.

Sticking with the design classes, I then took Amy Singer’s Plug & Play, Custom Scarves and Shawls.  So, I didn’t like this class, and I can’t really put my finger on why.  Amy Singer is the editor of Knitty, and I really respect how’s she’s managed to stay afloat with a free online publication in the age of Ravelry.  I just didn’t like it – I don’t know, maybe her snarkiness that I didn’t find funny.  I watched the whole class though, and there are valuable lessons in the material, and I think, based on the class, I could pretty easily use her plug and play method to something  make a straight scarf, but that’s about it.

I followed Amy Singer with Stephen West’s Shawlscapes.  First, I have to say, I’m not sure what they were aiming for in this class.  It’s kind of a how to class, it’s kind of a technique class, but at the end, it’s really a showcase class.  What I mean is this – it was a showplace for Stephen West’s shawls, a little insight into how he designs, and a geometry based analysis on how his elongated triangle shapes grow.  I came out of the class with a new respect for his work.  Before the class, I just thought his stuff was frankly ugly.  After the class, I thought, you know what – you be you dude.  You’re dragging knitting into modernity, and you’re stuff is unique, and special, and not for everyone, but its fun, surprisingly thoughtful, and knit with love an excitement.

Next up Knitting on the Bias.  If math is not your thing, this class isn’t for you.  So, it wasn’t for me – mind numbing math right out of the get.  Onward.

Then, Custom Knit Yoke Sweaters.  Eh.  The teacher is a disciple (assistant) of Meg Swanson, and everything is Amy says this, or Elizabeth (Zimmerman) says that.  It’s an ok class.  You can definitely design and knit a yoke sweater by the end.  But, you could also save your money, and read Elizabeth Zimmerman as well.

Slipstich Colorwork, Mosaics and Beyond.  I took this class after Shawlscapes because almost all of Stephen West’s shawls incorporate slip stitches, and he never really explains how they work.  This class was simply a survey of different slipstich patterns, and I think I finished the class because I didn’t want to admit that I struggled with the instructor’s thick accent.  Faina Goberstein teaches the class, and I am a big fan of her designs.  But, it was hard . . . and I felt like a really bad person.

I finished up my knitting class binge with Wee Ones Seamless Knitted Toys.  I watched over a half hour of it, and Susan Anderson hadn’t stopped talking about herself yet, so I turned it off.

And, that’s where I am.  Currently, I’m watching some embroidery classes, and before my 11 days are up, I’m going to hit up the crochet.  I also watched a few of the photography classes, but since I was a member of Scott Selby’s site for a good two years, these classes were so similar, they were repetitive.  So, free form crochet, here I come!  Also, I know there are two classes starting on Monday that I’m going to have to squeeze in before the end of the week, and my $10 is up – Sew Sweetness has a handbag class, and Maureen Cracknell has a quilt as you go class – definite must takes!  Hope I can squeeze them both in under the gun!

And, what am I reading – that would be a big nothing – I have Craftsy coming out of my eyeballs, and I will resume my regularly scheduled nonprogramming in November!

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Yarning Along – One Success and One Big Time Fail

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Hello knitters! Long time no see. But I have been knitting! Pretty diligently too. And, as with all things that rely on the law of averages, I have one success to report, and sadly one fail – one sad, pathetic fail.

But, the good news first. Remember that Miss Babs I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t – but here it is! Just like I said it would be – as a finished Wickerwork!  Look how pretty that yoke is!

Wickerwork is by Gudrun Johnston, aka the Shetland Trader, and was published in Twist Collective sometime last year.  Have I mentioned how much I love Twist? Each pattern is a separate PDF, which means that when the powers that be edit a pattern, there’s no concern about leaving space for ads, or the next pattern, or more ads – the only concern is about making the pattern readily understandable to the average knitter.  I don’t mean there aren’t pattern repeats designated with asterix, or that there aren’t our familiar knitterly abbreviations.  I just mean that huge chunks of necessary explanations aren’t condensed into incomprehensible run on sentences in order to save column inches.   Every Twist pattern I’ve ever bought is easy to follow, and edited with the knitter in mind.  And that’s not to say they’re easy patterns, or beginner patterns.  Some are, but the patterns for advanced knitters are written in a way that you don’t need a Rosetta stone to translate them.

Unlike the latest issue of Interweave Knits.

And, here I present the fail.

Look at that ridiculous pyramid yoke – it’s supposed to be a yoke – a circle, not a triangle!!  And you know what, that’s not my fail, pattern – that’s your fail!  Yep, that’s right – I’m calling you out, pattern.  Pattern fail, not knitter fail.

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That, above is supposed to be the entire upper yoke of a sweater for my 6’4″ husband.

Ok, let me back up.  After knitting myself a sweater, and numerous shawls and what nots, I decided that it was time to knit my husband a sweater.  This is a big undertaking in every sense of the project.  My husband is 6’4″ – that’s a lot of yarn – so it’s a big purchase.  My husband is very sensitive to the itchies, and is really picky about the fabric he wears.  He’s the one that checks the thread count when we buy sheets.  So, it’s a big, expensive purchase – no cheap yarn for him.  And then there’s the actual knitting – knitting a sweater for that tall a guy doesn’t just mean the torso is long – it’s also the arms.   The sleeves are endless.  And, of course, there are two of them.  So, it’s a big time commitment.

When I saw the Fall issue of the Interweave Knits, I was immediately drawn to this:

The Gunnislake Pullover, by the new editor of Interweave Knits.  I liked that it was rugged, and that it was knit in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter.  I liked that the sleeves were set in sleeves, and I liked the placket – I thought it would give my pretty broad husband extra room.

So, I bought the digital pattern through Zinio Magazines.  First mistake.  I don’t know if it’s the case if you buy the digital magazine straight from Interweave, but through Zinio, it is impossible to zoom in on the instructions without the pages flipping to the back of the magazine.  Also, the magazine isn’t a pdf, so it can’t be opened in ibooks, nor can it be converted to my fav, KnitCompanion.  If you are very careful, and zoom only slightly, the magazine won’t flip pages, but it’s a real pain in the butt.

After buying the magazine, I made a huge dent in my yarn allowance for probably about three months, and bought 14 balls of Shelter in the main color, and then two balls of the white contrast, and one of the red.   Because I wanted the same dye lot, my yarn store had to order it for me, and I waited two weeks for it to come in.  Then, there it was – and I cast on.  The first time I cast on, my gauge was ridiculously off – I’m a wishful thinking swatcher. But for the second go, I had Knittyd check it for me, and I was good to go.  And, just to be sure it was going to be big enough, I cast on the largest size, thinking it’s never bad, with a sweater like that, to have a bit of extra room.

And then, I started knitting.  To get started, you need to read through the entire first part of the pattern to get going and because of the way it’s written, you need to read it a few times, and a few times more, because it is edited to the nth degree to ensure that it only fit into one tiny column in the magazine.  Because of the way she did her increases – in the sleeve, and in the front, and at different rates, I had to set up a columned chart to check off the increases as I did them, and to ensure that I was on the correct row.  Ok, done. Then, it was time to start the color work – and frankly, it really didn’t look right at the get go. I put my stitches on waste yarn, and held it up to my husband – it seemed to just fit.  I figured, with the increasing in the yoke, it’s going to grow, I’ll keep going.  So, then I started the sleevecap increases, and the color work, and the  . . . nope – no chest or back increases.  Just increasing in the sleeve.  Who is this sweater for, I thought, a beanpole.  And, the increases were every other row.  Can you picture it – no increases in the front, no increases in the back, and a triangle growing at each sleeve –  totally pushing the neck up in the back – and the whole thing started to grow like a pyramid.  See photo above.

On top of the crazy increases, the colorwork repeat was squished into one chart, with different arrows for starting the front, sleeve, and back, for each size with no accounting for the increased stitches – just work them into the pattern, it said.  I think that if she had actually charted the increases, with the stitches, visually, she would have seen that this wasn’t working in the larger sizes, which had a different rate of increase than the sample that was knit, and that the model is wearing.

So, I took it off the needles again, as you see above, and I couldn’t even get it over Joe’s head its so ridiculously shaped.  So, I said fey, and threw it aside, never to be touched again.

But, I did have all of that yarn I invested in – big time investment.  Luckily, there’s a lot of pattern support for Shelter, and I went with this pattern from the ever reliable Ann Budd:

I know Ann Budd’s work, and I know the pattern is going to be correct.

But, I can tell you, it’s going to be a long time before I buy an Interweave Knits again.

Rant over.

So, what am I reading.  Like much of the reading universe, I just closed the book on The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah.

For the first about 150 pages, I just really didn’t see what all the fuss was about, but then all of a sudden, the book was on fire, and I couldn’t put it down.  And, at the end, although I hate to admit it, my eyes were definitely wet, and as I finished it right before bed, I think my pillow may have gotten a little soggy.  Loved this book, truly.

And now, on the recommendation of a friend at work, I’m reading this:

I’m not very far in – but I have to say, it’s strangely charming so far.

So, hope everyone had a great summer, and I am totally excited that fall knitting is well underway!

Basic CMYK

Happy Friday!

In a civil suit, a party can introduce evidence of habit, pattern, practice, etc., to prove conformity – for instance, if the question is whether you did laundry at 2:00 p.m. on July 6, 2014, to prove that you did, you could introduce evidence that every single Sunday you do laundry at 2:00 p.m., so you must have done it on July 6, 2014 since it was a Sunday. If only I couid apply that level of commitment to my blogging – but the fact is, my blogging just isn’t that reliable. Just because I blogged almost every day for two months doesn’t mean that I’m going to blog at all for a month. Oh well. And, at least for me, it’s much easier to break a pattern and practice than to get it going again. A few days after the last post, I came down with a cough (that Joe shared with me, thanks husband!), that turned into a fever, and that was probably bronchitis – since it lasted for nearly 2 1/2 weeks. My blogging mojo was interrupted, and it was really hard to get it back – but I’m back, hopefully, and now, I’m just going to do a not so artfully crafted list of what I’ve been up to – just get it out there, and start again fresh on Monday. So, here was my June 10 through July 10 in a nutshell:

1. While sick, Joe and I watched all five seasons of Game of Thrones. Not a good idea when you’re feverish – I had the craziest dreams of people without faces, and winter and White Walkers and dragons. But we’ll be in for the next season, and I’m definitely on the Kit Harrington hair watch. If Jon Snow is really dead, poop on George R.R. Martin – that’s just cruel after all of that investment in one of the only heroes left in a show.

2. I saw An American in Paris in New York with my mom. I’m a huge fan of the movie, and was very skeptical of the stage show. No need – it was fantastic, and without the constrictions of post-WWII morality, the story was able to fill in plot holes that the movie just tipped toed around – for instance – SPOILERS – it made so much more sense that Lise was Jewish – her loyalty to the Baurrels so much more understandable, and her struggle to leave Henri was much more poignant. Also, by revealing Henri’s sexuality, it made Jerry stealing his fiancee a ok. While I did miss Gene Kelly, of course, and the actual streets of Paris, the ballet was so beautiful, and of course, the Gershwin music was insanely toe-tappable.

3. I got a horrendous hairdo, and then a good hairdo. Every day when Joe and I walk home from the train, we walk past this snazzy hair salon right across from the pizza joint where we order our Friday night pizza. After four years in our ‘hood, I finally decided to try it. I brought a photo of Charlize Theron with short hair, and a photo of my hair with blond highlights, and said, “I want that.” So, the stylist looked and said,”You don’t really want to cut your hair short, do you? Don’t you want to be able to pull it back in a pony tail, or put it up?” Uh, I guess. And, as to the highlights, she glanced at the photo and said, I can do that. So, she went to work with her foils, etc., and when she blew my hair straight, of course, I felt glamorous. It was then that Joe picked me up at the salon, and the look on his face was definitley WTF. You don’t like it? He raised his eyebrows, and was like, “you have tiger stripes.” Of course, after sitting for two hours, and having him pop my glamour balloon, I started to bawl – you’re wrong, I like it, blah blah blah. And then I got home, and really inspected it:

Oh my! He was right – it was really terrible. I had a headband of blond. The stripes were cray-cray. And, you can’t really tell in that photo, but the blond highlights were a brassy orange – really carrot top. So, I immediately made another appointment with a trusted colorist in town, and voila – fixed:

And, curly, I must say – it looks very French – my trial partner keeps calling me Babette. I do like it though – my head feels so much lighter, and it is defintely more youthful – and since I’ll be a 46 next week – closer to 50 than 40 – eek! that was important to me.

4.  Stitch Madness!

Quilting/Sewing: There is just not enough time in the day, nor enough air conditioning to do all I want to do.  My craftroom/sewing room is on the third floor of our house, a converted attic.  The electricity is not so modern.  I can’t run the sewing machine and the air conditioner at the same time, or I blow a circuit.  So, all of my dreams of catching up on abandoned quilts this summer has gone out the humid window.  But, I’ve begun plotting an English Paper Piecing project that I can do in the air in front of the t.v. – but more on that later, once it actually gets going.

But, one thing I have worked on in this stitchy category is my crazy quilting bug.  Remember my crazy quilting project?  Well, once I realized that the thread (orange) really made the quilt blocks look like something cut from a circus tent, I put it away, and waited for Kathy Shaw to run her Basic Crazy Quilting class  again.  Kathy runs her free classes several times a year – if you click on the link, you will find her registration dates.  I must say, this class is one of the most teacher involved online classes I’ve ever taken.  Class assignments are given, work is completed, photos of the completed assignment are posted on a private blog, Kathy comments on your work, and then emails you the next task.  If you don’t do your homework, you don’t get the next task.  The tasks are accompanied by very detailed handouts, photos, and templates.  The difference between this class and the Craftsy class is that not only is the pattern for the base block provided by Kathy, but the block is completely planned – there is a roadmap of seams, and templates, etc. and for me at least, this was such a better learning technique than the Craftsy class, which was much more general as to what to stitch where.  Here is a photo of my block, preseams –

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As you can see, it’s just basic quilting cotton, no crazy fabrics that needed stabilizing, and I started stitching last night, and all of the threads are very mellow. A much more subdued go round this time. We’ll see how it turns out – I still have a few more seams before I can submit my work and get the next task.

Embroidery: After I finished the Be Happy hoop that I posted about last month, I decided I really didn’t know what I was doing with regard to shading with thread, so as I mentioned in the last post, I signed up for an online class with Follow the White Bunny, Simply Shading.  So, the $60 fee is for both the workshop and the kit – the kit contains an iron transfer, 2 needles, silk fabric on which to stitch, thread samples, and a paper thread organizer.  So, let’s say the kit would probably run you $20 retail, so the workshop alone we’ll say was $40.  Why do I bring up price?  Because throughout the workshop, I kept saying, gosh, I really wish there were a video of that, or I wish there were more step by step photos rather than diagrams, more step outs I guess.  But the price was right for what she did . The class was four weeks.  Each week consisted of multiple handouts, with not only historical information, but technical instruction, and helpful tips.  There were also extra PDF patterns.  There was a class forum, with a weekly discussion (kind of, see below).  So, while I think the class would have been better with videos, that’s not to say I’m complaining – the handouts were thorough, Nicole was available for questions and advice, and she obviously put a lot of work into the written materials, and I learned a lot.  I think I just would have been willing to pay more to get more, I guess that’s what I’m saying.   And, if any of you reading this are thinking about hosting an online class, I just wouldn’t bother with a private bulletin board forum – beyond introductions, no one participated.  I think the best place to host an online class is honestly Facebook.  While I’m not a fan of posting my life on Facebook, in fact, since my father died, I don’t even think I’ve posted anything on my page – that’s the way he and I used to share photos – but the private groups I’m in, like the Crafty Gemini Quilt Club, there’s activity every day, and tons of sharing of photos – I think Facebook is just a daily stop for people, and it makes sharing easy.  One stop shopping, I guess.

So, that’s my two cents.  In any event, here’s what I managed to accomplish.  Here’s the first stitch exercise:

I got bored with this fairly quickly, and decided to practice with something a little more fun. So, I used an iron transfer from Something Sublime, and a quote I designed myself:

How fun is a Flamingo?

Nicole actually covers shading animals in the third week of the class, but I decided to go for it earlier.

And, I took a break from shading, and stitched up this fun sampler from the spring issue of Hoopla:

And next up, I’m going to tackle the actual class project:

But first I have to finish my crazy quilt homework!

Knitting. Last but not least – although wool is another summer resistant project. I started Wickerwork in my Miss Babs, but I haven’t photographed it. I abandoned Antarkis, I don’t know why – I was knitting it while I was sick, and I kept losing count, and I think I did some fudging I wasn’t really happy with. I don’t really remember – I’ll have to pull it out and see what needs to be done. And, as far as the Wollmeise, it’s fine, but I’m not stalking any overseas website to  get it.  Next up, is the new Fiddleknits MKAL that starts today – Water.  Once again, I’m going with Quince and Co. in this awesome color, Peacock:

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Yum, right?

And, I did take an online class finally with Susannah Conway, Blogging from the Heart. It was fine. It was just a bad time in my blogging history to take the class – I had already just done a blog overhaul. If I had taken it while my blog was languishing, I think it would have worked better for me. Also, Susannah’s blog is awesome but it’s not my writing style, and her prompts didn’t interest me that much. I might have a better blog if I followed more of her advice, but I’m not interested in writing “as I sit with my coffee cup and peer out my window . . .” kind of blog posts. And, the class needs some updating to a certain degree. Every Friday she posts an interview with a popular blogger, but some of the interviews contain links to defunct blogs, some of the bloggers aren’t actually blogging any more, and the class, in that respect, might need some new content. However, I must say that the beginning bloggers really got a lot out of the class – blogs got up and running, people found their voice, and I enjoyed the Facebook interaction watching their blogs grow. I think I’ve just been blogging too long, and my fault entirely – I just wasn’t that open to change. Had I opened myself up a little more, I may have incorporated more of what she was saying here. But, I’m glad I took it, I just kind of wish I had taken it when she originally started it. And, I do miss getting her daily emails – it was a lovely way to start my morning because I do like her very much.

So, that’s it, caught up! Onward!

Basic CMYK

Yarn Along – A New Relationship

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As you know from Monday’s post, my knitting and I broke up. I was done done done with that project. And of course, it was all the knitting’s fault.

And, without shouldering any of the responsibility for the failure of that relationship, I have moved on to another one – 

Meet my new knitting, Antartkis in Wollmeise.  I am in deep like with Wollmeise, although I wouldn’t call it love.  I love MadelineTosh, I love Quince and Co., I love Miss Babs – Wollmeise, though, there’s something a wee bit missing.  I think it’s the twist.  The twist on Tosh Sock, Finch and Miss Babs is very similar, and the fabric is really squish.  Wollmeise doesn’t have that squish.  It feels much more practical, less luxury.  But, I really like it.  It’s soft, with great stitch definition, and it doesn’t split.  The color is great, and I’m settling in for a long, rewarding knit – it is 900+ yards after all.  I’m committed.  Again.

So, that’s what’s up on the knitting front.  As far as reading goes, I feel less stupid now that I’ve finished a book.  I had started A Little Life because my favorite book podcast, Books on the Nightstand, recommended it – with a higher recommendation than I think they’ve ever given anything, devoting an entire episode just to this book.  So, when I felt “meh” about it, I thought I must not be getting something, that it was me, not the book.  But no, I really think it was the book.  Nothing happened and it was boring.  There, I said it.  Boring.  Snore.  And 200 pages is plenty of time for something to happen, even in an 800 page doorstop.  So, I put down the book, and started, and timely finished, The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey, which was a prequel/sequel/contemporaneous story as it’s predecessor, the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which is a $1.99 on Amazon Kindle today – so worth the two bucks!).  Looking at the story from Queenie’s perspective was interesting, yet, going back and rereading bits and pieces, particularly the ending of Harold Fry, which does give a glimpse into Queenie’s head at the very end, but implausible.  It just didn’t fit with what we knew about her from the first book.  But, problems with consistency aside, it was a light read, and a lovely read, and it got me back on track.

Now, I’m reading Judy Blume’s new book, In the Unlikely Event:

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I can’t help but love this book. The voice is pure Judy Blume, and I feel as if I am revisiting my childhood. She, Marilyn Sachs, and Louisa May Alcott shaped my reading aesthetic, and I couldn’t be happier visiting with new Judy Blume characters. While ficitional, the book centers around the true story of three airplane crashes that took place in Elizbeth, New Jersey in the 1950’s.   While the book’s premise begins with death, as with all Judy Blume books, it is completely uplifting and life affirming. And that is the power of Judy Blume. A little over half way through, and I’ve slowed down, because I just don’t want it to end.

So, thanks for stopping by. Hopefully, my new yarn relationship will last through the week, and if not, we can hug it out next Wednesday!

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