Tag Archives: knitting

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!

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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!

Yarn Along – A New Project

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A mystery complete, a project done.  You know what that means!  Time to cast on a new project.  Ok, it could mean that I pick up a project that’s languishing in the “to do” pile, or the hibernating pile, but nope, today it means, I started a new, easy, relaxing knit.  Voila – I give you Cameo!
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cameoYou may recognize the yarn as the jewely-toned beautiful skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock, Farmhouse, that I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool at the beginning of the month.  Here, let’s take a closer look:

farmhouse2Just the happy colors I’m in the mood for after the basement full of poop disaster this weekend!  In this photo, you can really see the nice twist to the yarn – it’s really squishy, and I love it.

You may be saying to yourself, hmmm, that shawl looks very similar to Color Affection, and didn’t you already knit Color Affection?  Well, yes I did.  But, Cameo is slightly different.  First, I’m doing one of the solid colors in a multi.  The multi will then transition to the striped section, and finally will end with a solid for the lace section.  So, it’s different – slightly.  This pattern also has picots every fourth row.  So, yeah, different.  Lace and Picots, totally different.

But, I do have a devious plan in the works.  I know my mother covets my Color Affection.  I’m thinking that if I finish this, and present her with both Earth and this at the same time, and tell her to pick, there’s a good chance she’ll be seduced by the colors in this one (as opposed to grey which is not really her color), and I’ll get to keep Earth.  That’s fair, right?

I definitely hear a Greek chorus singing, “Right!”

On the reading front, I read another book on Crazy Quilting, but I’m off from work today, and I really want to sink into a really really good book.    I think I’m going to buy this one, since I loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry:

Apparently, it’s not exactly a sequel or a prequel, but a story that takes place at the same time as the first book, running parallel in time I guess.  I’ll report back next week because I hit the “Buy with One Click” as I was snatching the link.

And, back to knitting for a moment (because I can always go back to knitting for more than a moment), you know I’ve been on the Mystery Knit bandwagon, and I‘ve offered up my tips and advice for picking one, so I thought I’d throw this one out there for anyone who thinks they might be up for a good mystery – the Shetland Trader MKAL.  Now, it is Gudrun Johnson’s first MKAL, but I have faith in her as a designer that she’s going to pull it off.  I already have yarn for her current pattern Wickerwork in this month’s Twist Collective, and I don’t think there’s a pattern that she’s designed that I don’t love or at least respect.  So, I have it in my queue, I just haven’t totally committed yet.  Mostly because the only yarddage I have in my stash that would work for this is kind of earmarked for something else, but since I’m buying yarn for Water, that starts in July, I don’t know if I want to buy yarn for two projects when I kind of have it in my stash.  I know you get it.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Yarn Along or Come Along to Maryland Sheep & Wool

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Happy Wednesday!  Once again I’ll be linking up with Ginny of Small Things for her weekly, Yarn-Along.

I’m now on the last clue of Fiddleknits Designs Earth MKAL.  I discussed the MKAL at length in my last Yarn Along post.  I really think the construction of this shawl was genius.  So genius, I’m not even sure I can explain it – mind boggling!  It started at the point of one of the shawl, knitting the body, and half of the first band of edging stitches at the same time.  When you finished the body of the shawl, you had half the first band of edging stitches knit, so in order to knit the second half, there was this short row maneuver to turn the work, and begin knitting the small cabled edging from the bottom center, to the end point.  Then, when at the end point, 25 stitches were cast on, and that’s the edging I’m working on now – which is joined to the body with an SSK.

Whatever I said, it looks awesome, right?

There are 50 repeats of the lace edge, and I think I’m on the 12th, so I’ve still got a bit to go, but I can definitely see and feel that light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s not going to be done in time for Mother’s Day, but that’s ok – because I think I gave my mom a shawl last year . . . and the year before . . . and the year before.  So, this year, it’ll be something else, and I guess I’ll just have to keep this one for myself.  Darn!

And, as I’ve mentioned a gazillion times, and I talked about in this video, this past Saturday was high holy day of East Coast knitters, the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.  My friend, Christina, aka Knitty D, and I have been going every year for longer than we care to remember – a looong time.   This year, I was pretty much Instagramming the whole time – which was awesome!  I really loved sharing in real time.

So, in case you weren’t following me on instagram (I’m TeaWithLemon on Instagram if you do want to follow), I shared sheep – of course!

And our purchases:

 Look – that skein I’m waving excitedly in the first photo – the ever elusive Wollmeise Twin.  There was one basket of Wollmeise at the entire festival – and of course, we found it, clever girls that we are!  After purchasing it, I spent some time with it, and frankly, I don’t know what the big deal is – but I’ll hold off my final judgement until I actually knit with it.  The next photo is me clutching my Miss Babs – 3 skeins of Yowza, a big ol’ skein (560 yds) of worsted, for this sweater.   And, I do mean clutching – no one was going to snatch my yarn – that yarn was flying off the shelves – all of those folks in the bottom middle photo – that’s Miss Babs’ booth – and the line stretched out the back of the barn, all the way down to the fence you can see in the bottom left photo.  The gentlement with the mandolin was kind enough to entertain us while we waited . . . and waited.  But, we won – we got our yarn, all that matters.  In the side middle photo, you can see my next purchase, fingering weight Shetland for this sweater.

One of my favorite vendors at Sheep & Wool is basically a junk store – lots of old printer’s trays, spoons and forks bent and prodded into cellphone holders and napkin rings, old spools, bottles, knitty noddies. So much fun stuff!  The felted R2D2 was not part of the junk shop.  Can I just tell you – felt was HUGE this year.  Needle felted gnomes, ornaments, Star Wars figures – you name it, it was felted.  Also big this year, wool applique and wool based art quilting.

And, not only are there Sheep at Sheep & Wool, we can’t forget about the goats:

Oh, what the heck, and a few more sheep:

Can’t have too many sheep, right?  Livestock is only a once a year thing for me, at least.  And, don’t be fooled by the lazy sheep photos, some of the sheep are working, taking orders from a showing off sheep dog:

As always, the dogs were impressive.

And, after all of the purchasing and sheep petting was done, we ended the day the only way you should in Maryland, with crabs:

Can it get better than this?

And, reading?  Hmmmm . . . books, I remember them.  No time for reading this week – there was yarn to be had, dammit!  I have decided that I am abandoning A Little Life.  I really really wanted to like it because Anne Kingman, from my favorite books podcast, Books on the Nightstand, recommended it so highly – so highly in fact, that she devoted and entire episode to it.  But, I just don’t like it . . . at all.  So, life is too short to continue on with a 700+ page book you don’t like – by next week, I’ll let you know what I’m reading next.  Perhaps this or this.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Yarn Along, or Is This Mystery KAL Right For You?

Scroll down for the Moogly link up!

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Hello and happy Wednesday!  This week finds me still chugging along on my Fiddleknits Mystery Knit-A-Long, Earth.

The first Earth Clue was released during the first week of April, and we’re now up to Clue 3, with the fourth and final clue being released Friday.

I’m almost done Clue 3, and by Friday I should be all set for Clue 4 – woo hoo! This may be done in time for Mother’s Day, and wouldn’t that be easy peasy!

I love how unique this design is, how the branches grow and spread across the fabric. Love it!

But, the question really is, how do you know you’re going to love a Mystery Knit-a-Long MKAL before you start it? You just don’t, it’s a crap shoot.

My first MKAl was, I thought, called Spring Surprise – or at least I thought it was, because when the first clue arrived in my box it was called Spring Suprice – because English was not the pattern designer’s first language.  The pattern was rife with errors (some of which were translation problems, but most of which were editing problems), and the second clue ended up being a lace pattern I abhor, with really complicated, unrewarding lacework on both sides.  It was a long time before I jumped on an MKAL bandwagon again.

And that bandwagon came to my door several years later with an Ysolda Teague MKAL, Follow Your Arrow.  I was confident dipping my feet back into the mystery pond because I love Ysolda’s patterns, and I had confidence in her steering the ghost ship safely to shore.  An,d the concept was fun and fresh – two clues each week, you pick which way your shawl is going to go.  I ended up with two fab shawls, and itching to do another KAL.

So, I found this group on Ravelry, KAL Fanatics, which has a calendar, and a forum post for every KAL and CAL out there.   Ok, so I found the list – now what?  How to choose?  I started sifting through my choices, looking at the KAL designers previous work, and asking myself the following questions:  had she hosted a MKAL before? did I like her previous patterns?  In her MKAL forum, did people seem to have problems with the previous pattern? In the shared photos section of her forum, did people seem to be finishing her projects?  The bottom line – could this designer deliver a successful KAL?  And then, if the answer was yes, I evaluated the description of the project.  No mystery sweaters – that was a total nonstarter.  Did I have the yarn in my stash or was I willing to buy something similar?  Lace or cables?  Miles of garter stitch, oh no.

In the end, I went with Fiddleknit’s Bonnie’s Wish, based on her active forum,  her previous patterns. and the description of the techniques used in the project, along with the fact I had yarn in my stash that would work fine.  No investment, other than time.

And, yeah!  I loved it!  There was a bump along the way – the yarddage requirement varied (f you didn’t swatch) – and I couldn’t blame the designer for my failure to swatch.  A lot of people ran out of yarn, I among them.  Luckily, I found a perfect contrast to my discontinued yarn, and my finished shawl was beautiful, and kept me warm and snug all winter.

So, when Fiddleknits advertised her Elements Series – which will be this one, Earth, the next one Water, followed by Air, Fire and the Philospher’s Stone, I knew I was in.  And now that I love Earth, I’m up for Water.  I even know what yarn I’m going to use – another Quince and Co. Yarn, Finch, in Peacock. It’s such a great color!

And that about wraps up the knitting portion of the post.  Maryland Sheep & Wool is this weekend, and I’m plotting my shopping strategy, which involves Miss Babs, so of course that’s always a duke ’em out at her overcrowded festival booth.  More on my purchases next week!  But, if you are interested in my buying plans, or what happened to my purchases from last year, I talked about it extensively in my video post here.

Now to the crochet.

No Sophie this week. This week, I pulled a project out of the WIPS pile. At Christmas, I crocheted a bunch of Elsa’s, and got really overloaded with crocheting stuffies. So, I had started a bunny for my newest niece for her first Christmas. I did the head and the body, and went uch, not another stitch, and back in the basket it went. With her birthday approaching, and no clue from her parents what to get her, I pulled out Miss Bunny, and finally finished her.

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How cute is she. She’s the basic Lalylala pattern, with her free Bunny modifications. I already made a Sheepy, so I had the main body pattern.

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Once she was finished, and I had to part with her (sniff), I put her in a box, and wrapped her up. Here she is unboxed and with her little girl –

First, there was a get to know you process –

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And then she went straight to trying to rip her eyeballs out:

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When that failed, there was a sweet hug, but she was turned away from the camera, and I missed it. Sneaky girl!

As far as what I’m reading – I haven’t made much progress on A Little Life.  Last week, I was signing it’s praises because of it’s fine writing – but now, I’m bemoaning the fact that there’s all there is – rich sentences, no plot.  Nothing has happened.  Nothing.  I feel like by next week, it may have gone into the hibernating pile, we’ll see.

And that wraps up my yarny adventures for the week! Make sure you drop by the Yarn Along!