Tag Archives: yarn

This and That Before 2017 – A Knitting Catch Up and The Inspired by Islay Club

I’d say “my it’s been a long time,” but that’s how this blog has gone for years, I suppose.  I’ve picked a word for 2017, and I’ll talk about that later this week (yep, really, I will!), but an element of my word is consistency, so I’m going to come up with a plan for being more consistent here in this little space of mine.  Perhaps I’ll sit down on Sunday and write a bunch of short posts I schedule to publish throughout the week, or maybe I’ll commit (hint hint) to blogging twice a week.  I’m not sure yet, I’m still figuring it all out, but I do know that I don’t want to ditch the whole thing, so I’ll come up with something.

So, this week I’m going to do a series of catch up posts, just a little this and that before the new year.  First up, knitting!

In my knitting world, I finished the gigantic sweater I knit for my husband (a sweater for a 6’4″ guy is necessarily going to be gigantic, so I knew what I was getting into, but it still didn’t make it any less of a, cough, cough, slog – miles and miles of stockinette.  I’d show you a photo, but I haven’t actually taken a picture of it yet – which is strange, because he’s already worn it a couple of times, and it is his favorite of the three sweaters I’ve knit for him.  And, that, in and of itself, was a lesson learning thing.  The first two sweaters I knit for him were lovely – last year’s sweater was Guston in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter, and a few years before that, Brooklyn Tweed’s Cobblestone, in Katmandu Aran.  Both sweaters, two me, were fab – texture and tweedy yarn.  Joe, however, really doesn’t like anything that isn’t structured, and he likes a smooth yarn, rather than a tweed.  So, this year, I let him pick the pattern (sort of, he described what he wanted, and I found it), and I let him pick the yarn.  And, now he has his fitted neck, saddle shoulder, ribbed sweater that he always wanted, Churchmouse Yarn’s Saddle Shoulder Pullover.  This pattern was frankly ridiculously expensive, but it got the job done.  My one problem was that rather than the instructions being in inches (like knit until armhole is x inches), it was knit 97 rows, or whatever.  This was done intentionally, as there’s a whole section on getting gauge, including row gauge, as well as how to add length here and there, to get a better fit.  I’m just not all that concerned with row gauge, and I like my instructions in inches.  Because I’m a lazy counter, I had to do some fudging sewing the saddle and the sleeve into place, because I didn’t have quite the same number of rows where they were supposed to be, but you would never know from looking at it, and all is good.

On the selfish knitting front, you may remember this:

This is Islay, from I think Gudrun Johnson.  I abandoned Islay because I a. ran out of yarn, and had to order more and b. it was time to knit giganto husband sweater.  When I picked it up again, I didn’t remember where I was, and of course, I hadn’t written it down.  I couldn’t figure it out, didn’t love it, decided to part ways with it, and knit something else.  So, I decided I wanted to knit this with my precious Miss Babs, Baby Cocktails’ Dirty Martini:

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You would think this would be an easy color to find a contrast – grey, maybe.  But, I tried at least a half a dozen colors, yes, I actually swatched, and hated them all.  Meh.  So, I abandoned that idea (although I still want to knit this cardigan), and waited for something to come to me.

And, what came to me, ironically enough, was the Inspired by Islay Club from Kate Davies.  Back to the Hebrides!  I signed up for the club around Thanksgiving, but the first pattern didn’t come out until the second week in December.  I couldn’t wait, and I cast on Kate’s Braid Hills, not part of the club, but still a Hebredian inspiration:

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Perfect right?  So, here’s mine, just about the same place I ripped out the other Islay:

Anyway, no offense to the first Islay, but I’m so much happier with this version of my Miss Babs.  And, this is actually a pretty good representation of the color, as opposed to the grayer photo above – it’s a really beautiful, vibrant blue green.

I have long been a Kate Davies fan.  I’ve knit Paper Dolls, and her owls sweater, and I’ve admired her yokes and her haps.  I even have a fan girl photo:

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That’s Kate and I in 2009 when she visited Philadelphia.  Of course, I look at that photo, and I see how thin I was, and think, “oh my, how did I get from there to here,” but that’s a post for another day.

Digression over.  Of course, now I’m midknit while the Inspired by Islay patterns roll out – 12 patterns over 12 weeks, and 12 newsletters filled with the most gorgeous photos of Scotland, and little history lessons to accompany each pattern.  The patterns come out on Wednesday, the newsletter on Fridays.  The newsletters also include Kate’s husband Tom’s whiskey reviews and recommendations.  Not only am I inspired to knit Islay inspired patterns, I am totally inspired to visit Scotland, and stay in a caravan and stare out over the lochs, and climb the foothills in my Islay inspired socks.  Not only do you get the 12 patterns and 12 newsletters for $36, you also get a discount code for Kate’s yarn, Buachaille.  So, for $3 a pattern, free whiskey advice and dream inspiring photos, and a coupon for  Scottish yarn, it is completely worth it.  There’s also a nice Ravelry group as well, but you can join the group without joining the club.

The first Inspired by Islay pattern is Kate’s wedding cardigan, Finlaggen:

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I think this is the pattern that I’ll order my Buachaille for – although I’m going to wait for all 12 patterns to come out before I decide.  I love the heart shaped cables, the shawl collar, and the ribbed waistline.  I’m thinking I’ll forego the pockets though.  So, this might just be the Winter of Islay, which shall hopefully not be my winter of discontent.  In any event, if you are at all a Kate Davies fan, you should definitely check out the club – it’s a bargain, it’s delightful, and it’s inspiring.

Tomorrow, a crochet catch up, and another club!

Yarning Along, Quickly!

Holy Moly, I completed a project with yarn from circa 2007-8!!!  Now that’s a deep plunge into the stash.

Frustrated with my Islay Cardigan (recap – I ran out of yarn, bought more yarn, waited for said yarn, forgot where I was in the chart, realized I couldn’t figure out where I was because I had done the decreases for the wrong size, unknit the additional decreases, and I still had the wrong number of stitches, oy!), I decided I wanted to knit something quick quick quick and get a finished project under my belt.  Get my knitting mojo back, you know what I mean?  I feel like it’s been awhile since I finished a knit project.  So, I went looking for something small, something modest.  Every year I admire the dooable projects in Ysolde Teague’s Knitworthy e-books, patterns perfectly designed and timely released for gift knitting.  These patterns are released bi-weekly until the ebook is complete, and while from the start you can preorder the entire ebook, and get the patterns as they are released, you can’t buy the individual patterns until after the subscribers get their full ebook.  So, I usually like the first pattern, don’t want to commit to the whole book until I see the whole book, and then I forget about it.  So, when I really liked the first pattern this year, Belyse, I just decided to go for it, and I subscribed to the whole book.

So, because I needed immediate gratification, I wasn’t going to buy anything, and I started going through my stash.  Dig dig dig – and I ended up finding a nice, tweedy Rowan 4 ply Tweed, which came out sometime between 2006-2008, and is now discontinued.  For the main color, I picked this purply pink tweedy yarn from Maryland Sheep and Wool, from Davidsons.

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Unlike traditional glove patterns, Belyse starts at the fingers, not the cuffs.  Interesting.  The fingers are actually pretty ingenious – they’re knit like I-cord, and then you make a stitch from the tail, ladder it up the back, and close up the circle.  Crazy.  And then the fingers are joined to start the palm.

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Here’s the first one in progress.  Sorry about the crappy photos – I knit these through Saturday and Sunday football – not to much movement out of the blue chair.

The back (yep, with some dog butt) –

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And front (sans butt!)

I really did mean to take better photos – but I forgot.  Oops.

And of course, as soon as I finished these mitts, I saw these –

 

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OMG I love these! They’re from Ann Kingston Tup Knits (tups apparently refers to sheep mating, learn something new everyday!), and I love the mitts, the hats and the cowl – although I think all three is a bit much.  I think I’ll make the mitts and the hat and call it a sheep.

So, that’s where I am in my yarning!

And the reading!  I finally secured the digital download of Dark Matter, and read it in a day and a half.

The beginning is edge of your seat exciting, the middle starts to read like a traditional time travel novel (although its not about time travel), and then there’s a twist and bam! Gotta find out what happens!  I enjoyed it, and obviously it was quick, like my mitts.  I guess that’s the theme this week!

Back next week with probably a return to the cardigan, or the start of something tuppy!

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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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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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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!

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Yarn Along – To Replace, or Let it Go?

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So, remember I showed you this last week, and I gushed about how happy I was about all of the jeweltoned, bright colors?

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I’ve come to my senses, and accepted the fact that it looks like Sesame Street just vomited up an avenue. So, it’s getting ripped, and I’ll probably make a pair of socks out of it, because I do still love the yarn, I just don’t want to wear it around my neck. So much for tricking my mother into swapping the Earth Shawl for this.

After all of that – because I did knit all the way to the stripe section before I decided that it looked like rainbow barf – I cast on a sure thing. Here is the beginning Wickerwork in this Summer’s issue of Twist Collective, by Gudrun Johnson,  in Miss Bab’s Yowza:

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It’s starts off with a provisional cast on, which evolves into a hem. So much work, but I really like this finished edge:

And, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m going on another Gudron Johnson adventure, her first Mystery KAL:

Another mystery!!  After reading her forums, I decided to go with this laceweight I have in my stash.  Based on everyone’s questions, and her answers (she has been very active in the forums, commenting on people’s yarn choices, answering questions, etc. – I think it’s a really good sign for a good Mystery KAL!), I think it’ll work.  If not, I’ll just rip out the first clue and start again in my skein of Wollmeise, which I was going to use as the contrast color to my above failed Cameo, but I’ll be happy to use it alone in this project.

The shawl is knit in three parts, and she recommends either using one color or three colors.

So, as I’ve clearly let the Sesame Street regurg go, what is my title talking about?  Well, I need some advice.  Here is my dilmena.  I invested in a set of Knitter’s Pride interchangeable circular needles, sizes 4-11.  I knit a project with the fours and loved them.  Then, when I was twisting my needle off of the cable, my needle snapped.  Drat!  So, I ordered a replacement set from Webs.  I took the set out of the packaging, assumed they were fine, and put them in the case.  But, they were not fine – it turns out the screws inside the tip are stripped, and they won’t screw on the cable.  Fine, I’ll call Webs, they have great customer service, no problem.  In the meantime, I’ll cast on on a five.  So, I set up my five’s for Sesame barf, and wouldn’t you know it – I sat on the needles, and totally broke the tip.  So, now I have to get replacement tips for the 5.

Or do it?  Maybe these needles just aren’t worth all of the trouble.  While I love the join (where as I hate the join on the Hiya Hiya set that I have), and I loved the 4’s, I didn’t love the 5’s so much – I thought the tip was really blunt.  And, there’s the issue of the breakage.  I didn’t sit on the needle in some crazy position – the wood is just really soft, and it snapped like a twig.  Is it worth replacing?  Maybe I should just let this set go, and maybe get a set of Addi’s for my birthday.  But I do really like the join . . .

Any thoughts?  All advice welcome!

Hope everyone’s knitting is going smoother than mine!

On the other hand, my reading is back on the right track.  I mentioned last post that I was probably going to start this book:
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And, indeed I did.  I’m really enjoying it, but I think I’d be enjoying it more if I remembered the first book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.  I remember the first book well enough – a basic outline of the story, the characters he meets on the way, the revelations he has, the ending.  But, I don’t remember all of the minute. finer details – so while I see that Queenie sees things much differently than Harold, I feel like I need to go back to the first book to get the full effect.  But, I like it, and it feels to good to be in the middle of something, not slogging through the beginning of something I know I’ll never finish.

Thanks for stopping by, and let me know what you think about the Knitter’s Pride Needles!

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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