Thursday, April 16, 2015

Starshower

Windy day!

starshower1 I knit this little confection so quickly that I didn’t even have time to tell you about it before it was done. This is Starshower, a pattern that keeps showing up on my Ravelry feed. The designer describes it as a “shawl-cowl hybrid,” and I really think we need a special name for it. It begins with a garter tab (so it’s not too tight) and the beginning knit flat like a semi-circular shawl; later it is joined and finished in the round. It goes over your head like a cowl but hangs like a perfectly draped shawl. It’s genius!

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I intended to get this started at home and take it with me to work on the flight to Portland. I find that I appreciate having some interesting knitting for the plane and something different for the conference (something dead easy, like vanilla socks). This was meant to be the interesting airplane project, but it was so interesting that I finished it before leaving home. Oops! Here’s how it looks folded flat:IMG_5825I tugged it a bit so you can see where the neck opening is. Here it is folded a different way:

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The yarn is Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga, a 80/10/10 fingering yarn. I originally bought this skein along with two others at MDSW ‘12, intending to make the Color Affection shawl. That was on Saturday. Early Sunday morning, I was notified that I had won a drawing for a trio of laceweight Yet from Miss Babs, and I ended up making the shawl from that (I wear it all the time – I wore it yesterday!). After finally realizing that I probably won’t knit another Color Affection, I decided this yarn was up for grabs.

starshower3I’m really glad I used it for this. I’ve already worn it once this week (this time of year is perfect for lightweight accessories) and I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it. My finished garment weighs 98 grams. The skein was a generous 113 g, so I have a bit left.

Also, this yarn smells GREAT. It has that slightly sheepy (in a good way) scent that usually indicates minimal processing. It reminds me of how Bartlettyarns and Clara Yarn smell. All day long, I get little whiffs that make me smile.

Here are the three skeins I meant to make Color Affection with – the middle one is now Starshower:

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If you like this thing, you will also like Adama, a similar style worked in worsted weight yarn. I might try making it from some handspun.

One final word: this pattern was expertly written and edited. After griping about some of the patterns I’ve made this year, I want to give credit where credit is due. I would not hesitate to make another design by Hilary Smith Callis. She knows what she’s doing.

Friday, April 10, 2015

CustomFit Stonington and Twisted PDX

grey1As you know, I was following Amy Herzog back when she was writing Fit to Flatter on her blog. That eventually grew into a Craftsy class, the book Knit to Flatter, and the whole MakeWearLove/CustomFit empire. In fact, Amy has just published her second book, Knit Wear Love.blue1cropI’ve knit three sweaters using the CustomFit system – two for me and one for S1. The ones for me are good, but not awesome. I began considering that perhaps my measurements were a bit off. There are now a number of LYSs that have been trained to do CustomFit measurements. One of those shops is Twisted, in Portland (OR). I was there for some work meetings last month, so I  decided to make an appointment at Twisted.

20150328_151743 I worked with these two fabulous women, Taunia (left) and Arwen. They are like reference librarians, except instead of working with information, they talk about yarn, sweater construction, and measurements. They carefully perused my Ravelry photos of CF sweaters and we diagnosed them thoroughly before measuring.

Do you think my new numbers are different from my original ones? Oh yes they are. How different? Take a look:

upper torso circumference

-1.5”

bust circumference

same

waist circumference

+1”

high-hip circumference

+.125”

medium-hip circumference

+2.25”

low-hip circumference

+2.375”

tunic circumference

-5.5”

waist to high-hip

+.75”

waist to medium-hip

-.25”

waist to low-hip

+1.5”

waist to tunic

+6”

waist to armhole-shaping

-.5”

armhole depth

Same

bicep circumference

Same

elbow circumference

-1”

forearm circumference

-.25”

wrist circumference

-.125”

short sleeve to armhole

+3”

elbow sleeve to armhole

+1”

3/4 sleeve to armhole

+4.25”

long sleeve to armhole

+2.125”

I highlighted the two most important numbers: upper torso and long sleeve. Note that they measured my upper torso a full 1.5” smaller than my original number. They really pull that tape measure tight for this measurement. Also note how weird my sleeve measurements are, especially the long sleeve. Again, they really started measuring from right up in my armpit, which is not really how the web video tells you to do it (there’s a whole bit about the top of your camisole and a string…it’s weird). So I should be knitting my long sleeve a couple inches longer than I have. Note how big the difference is on the 3/4 sleeve – that explains why the sleeves came out so much shorter than I expected on the grey sweater.

HMMMMMM.blue2I’m not sure how well you can see this in the photos, but the sleeves on this Stonington that I just finished are kinda short. I kept tugging them down while we were taking pictures, but they kept creeping up. They really do need another 2”.blue5 I’m considering taking the sweater apart and reknitting the sleeves. I have plenty of yarn - I used under 4 skeins and have 3 left! I think ripping the seams out will be the biggest pain… but it will take less time than reknitting an entire sweater. Also, I used the alternating cable cast-on at the cuffs and it is a bit tight. I’d prefer the regular longtail for more stretchiness.

blue4 Of course, what I really want to do is start a whole new sweater. I have several to knit in the coming months, but I need to procure yarn for S1 and my mom. I have two sweater quantities of yarn for myself, but I need to figure out what to make.

First, I have this Quince & Co. Lark. I started to make a Sprig but it came out all wrong. I’ve ripped that out, and reskeined and refreshed the yarn. It’s ready to wind again.

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And second, I have this Saco River Dyehouse Lopi that I got through a Kickstarter campaign. It is 70% alpaca and 30% wool. The blend is tricky – that’s a LOT of alpaca and it will want to grow.P1010766

The colors of these two yarns look very similar here, but the Lark is a bright emerald and the Saco is more of a muted aqua.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ow, my eyes!

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Just a quick update (I’m wrestling with technology). These are the socks I finished on a flight home earlier this week. They are proudly modeled by Boy 1. Since he is consuming socks faster than anyone else in the family right now, I have focused my sock efforts on him. When I finished the last socks, I said “go pick some yarn from the cabinet.” To my surprise, he picked this, which is truly ancient stash. In fact, it fits my criteria for sock exclusion (100% superwash wool), but I figure he’ll outgrow them before wearing them out. His comment: “ooooo, so blue!”IMG_5641

He was very clear that he wanted plain stockinette on the foot, but he was interested in something snazzier for the leg. I sent him to my sock drawer for inspiration. He liked these socks, which use the Undulating Rib stitch pattern from Favorite Socks. The pattern calls for 66 stitches. I have knit these 3 times already and I always downsize to 60 stitches, so I did that again. I got all the way to the heel and then we had a fitting. Verdict: TOO TIGHT. So I ripped it out and started again with 66. Little boy is growing up. IMG_5639

I chose the eye of partridge heel. It is very strong and also very slim, so it doesn’t create a lot of bulk inside of shoes. Plus it looks very handsome. IMG_5643

The finished socks weigh 98 grams. The skein was big so I have some left… but I can see I have reached the time when the boy’s socks require at least 100 grams of yarn. I made these just a little big so they will fit next season. I notice he wore them to school today, so SCORE ONE FOR MOM.

I still don’t have photos of that sweater. But I will!

Monday, March 23, 2015

…another scarf

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I repeated the same exact idea for Scarf #3 as I did for Scarf #2, with one small change: hemstitch. See how subtle the top of the fringe is? I like this hemstitch treatment way more than the overhand knots. Here are overhand knits, for comparison:IMG_5596 The warp is more Cascade 220 Superwash left over from a wedding blanket (this is the army green color from Jess’s blanket), and the weft is Interlacements Tiny Toes from very, very deep in my sock yarn stash. It’s 100% superwash and I would not use it for socks now.IMG_5630S1 picked this combo and it came out quite well. She wanted the exact same measurements. It’s 52 1/2” long and 5 7/8” wide. I used 32 grams of sock yarn and 37 grams of warp.

Next I might try warping double strands of fingering through my 8-dent heddle.

I finished the blue sweater but it hasn’t been photographed. One day, probably in the middle of summer, I’ll surprise you with it!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A-ha!

Last weekend when we gathered the handknit socks for washing, we noticed that this pair (knit in Fall 2013) was decided misshapen (it hasn’t been washed yet):IMG_5600

Do you see where the heel actually is, compared to where it appears Boy 1’s heel sat in the sock all day? He is wearing socks that are far too small for him. Every time we tell him to take them out of rotation, he just ignores us. Here is the same sock next to a recently-knit pair – this really highlights the difference:IMG_5601

Since I knit these socks top-down, I decided to see if I could just rip out (or cut out) the toe and reknit them (I was inspired by S1’s sock toe makeover). With an extra 1.5” in length, these fit much better now:IMG_5615

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That little project went so well that I started looking at the sock laundry with new eyes. I decided that these also needed some toe lengthening: IMG_5617These were scrappy socks I knit way back in Fall 2011, so it’s crazy that he’s still wearing them. These turned out to be much more challenging to lengthen. The yarns were more felted. I had to rip one pair back quite a bit further than the other. But, they live to serve another year!

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Here are the photos from when these pairs were brand new:

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IMG_6379 These two modifications took a full week of my knitting time, but that is far faster than knitting him two pairs of socks. I call this a WIN!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Warp Speed

For Valentine’s Day, S1 totally surprised me with a 15” Schacht Cricket loom! We put it together that day and warped it the next day. For my first project, I used the yarn that came in the box with the loom: 2 balls of Nature Spun Worsted (100% wool).

The instructions that come with the loom are okay, but not awesome. I supplemented with YouTube videos… also helpful, but not awesome. But still, I got it warped up and started weaving: 20150215_142343WHAT FUN! I could not believe how fast it went. I pretty much immediately wanted to know more, and I recalled that Caitlin watched this Craftsy class before buying her Cricket: Rigid Heddle Weaving with Angela Tong. Craftsy was having a Valentine’s weekend sale so I got the class for half off – bonus! Almost as soon as I started watching it, I wish I had done so before warping, because Angela is so much more clear and the “view” is perfect on those videos. IMG_5587I finished my first scarf when I ran out of the green weft yarn. It has lots of things wrong with it – the edges are wonky, I didn’t beat at the same rate throughout so some parts look more purple than others, and the width of the scarf changes. But I made a scarf! Just as with my first skein of handspun, I will save this so I can look back on it and chuckle later.

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Immediately I began thinking about my next project. The loom came with an 8-dent heddle, which is perfect for worsted yarn. So I knew I needed a strong (plied) worsted yarn for the warp. I pulled out the “share bag” of Cascade 200 Superwash leftovers (from Jess’s blanket and Caitlin’s blanket and my blanket) and handed it to S1. Her job was to choose a warp color that I had enough of (I could weigh the yarn to see if I had enough to make a 55” scarf, which is what she wanted) and choose a sock yarn from my stash to use as weft. The idea was to choose a fingering yarn that I would never make socks from. She chose a great one, this Fleece Artist Sock which is hand-dyed but unfortunately on 100% superwash merino. It is one of my oldest stash yarns and I’ve been avoiding it for years (at least for socks) because I predict it won’t wear well. IMG_5594And look! I made a scarf! I warped the loom and wove this all in an evening! It went at WARP SPEED! I did it so fast I never even took a picture of it on the loom. IMG_5597It is soft and drapey (thank you superwash merino) and the edges are nice and straight. Angela Tong’s course is excellent and I recommend watching it BEFORE you warp your first loom.

Then I bought Rigid Heddle Weaving: Beyond the Basics (while the half price sale was still on) and am partway through watching that. Watch out because there will be more weaving to come.IMG_5599My biggest problem right now is resisting the urge to buy different yarn to weave with. I want to use stash yarn, at least for a while. But I also want to make kitchen towels, which requires cotton, and I have no cotton in stash. I don’t care to knit with it.  So we’ll see how long that holds out.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Boy grows, needs socks

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Here’s the latest pair of socks for Boy 1, who is growing out of socks a bit faster than I can knit them. His foot is almost as big as mine now, so maybe I should just open my sock drawer to him? For the very first time, I have cast on 64 stiches on 2.0mm needles with fingering weight yarn for him. That’s what I use for women’s socks in my family. IMG_5581A couple of things about this pair. First, I performed the promised experiment with cast on. Can you see a difference above? The sock on the left is my usual long tail CO, and the sock on the right uses the alternate cable CO (see Woolly Wormhead’s excellent instructions for this technique). I think the alternate cable CO is a lot more attractive. It seems to be stretchy enough. Time will tell if it’s too stretchy. I had to work the first row flat and join later… here you can see the little split before I joined it up:IMG_5563I will report back on how that wears.

The second thing to note is the slight bit of patterning just under the 1x1 cuff ribbing. Initially I planned to work this sock in a waffle-like pattern, but I felt it just wasn’t coming through in the yarn so I switched to 3x1 rib. After working that for a couple inches, I showed the sock to Boy 1 to get his feedback. He preferred the smooth ribbing but also didn’t want me to rip back the 3 repeats of waffle at the top. So I repeated that on the second sock. IMG_5583 I chose the eye-of-partridge heel, since it lays so nice and flat and is also extra sturdy. And I did the graduated toe decrease again. It seems to be my go-to toe right now.

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After a week of ridiculously low temperatures, we gave up on photographing outside and made do in the house. He wants his socks, and he doesn’t get them until after the photo shoot!

That’s another pair for #operationsockdrawer. I have another pair on the needles that is working up very quickly. Next up is seaming the Stonington cardigan and knitting the button band – I finished and blocked the sleeves yesterday. And my next post will be about something totally different. Something that lets you work at warp speed. You know what I mean.