Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Good Golly (again)

Do you remember this Molly hat I made for S1 back in Fall 2011?

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At the time, I mentioned that it was pretty big. As the years have passed, it’s become obvious that the hat is just TOO big. So when I was scooping up handknits to store until next winter (and thinking about whether they still sparked joy), I paused when I got to this one.

I still love the pattern and the yarn, but the hat wasn’t serviceable. So, I ripped it out!IMG_6207When I got done I had two ramen-y skeins like this:

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I gave them a bath to “rejuvenate” them, wound them back into balls, and started the hat over. This time, I took my cue from the dimensions of my Sap Leaves hat, which is also made from Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter. The brim of this hat fit S1 just fine:

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So I modified the Molly pattern to be more like it. I cast on 72 stitches on US 5 and worked in 1x1 rib for 12 rounds. Then I switched to US 7 and increased to 108 by working *K1 Kfb* around. Then I started the pattern. I had to fudge a little on the crown decreases but it worked just fine. IMG_6538The resulting hat weighs 58 grams, and I have 17 grams of the re-wound yarn remaining. This means the new hat is  78% as heavy as the old hat. It should stay on her head and be great this winter.IMG_6542 She looks like a happy camper.

Monday, June 22, 2015

CustomFit Sebasco – the green sweater

IMG_5852 Last time I mentioned the green sweater I’m making for my mom, I was still swatching and thinking. But once I decided to cast on, I threw myself into the pattern. I had a vague notion of finishing it before our summer vacation (I hate returning to large projects after a period of time)… and I’m pleased to report that I have!20150611_092920One thing I really like about the CustomFit sweaters is that they are knit in pieces, which makes them portable. The ones I have made have large portions of stockinette, which makes them easy to work at the office, at soccer games, and while watching TV.

That daisy stitch was a bugger to work, but there wasn’t that much of it… until I got to the neck band (which had 333 stitches). I had to slow down my work because that stitch really hurt my hands, despite being worked on a needle 3 sizes bigger than the size used for stockinette (I used 4 on stockinette, 5 on garter, and 7 on daisy).

I thought I’d show you some blocking pictures this time. I am always freaked out by how large the pieces seem after I soak them. When I pin it out to match the schematic, I have lots of extra fabric – like this:IMG_6218 (That weird pin in the middle marks the waist, halfway between the last decrease and first increase.) I pin out all the edges and patiently smooth the fabric, and eventually I get this:

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Next I seamed the fronts and back together with magical mattress stitch (which I now find soothing instead of stressful):20150613_185658 To finish the armholes, you pick up stitches and then work an applied i-cord. The pattern clearly says to pick up and knit 1 stitch in every stitch and every row around the armhole. I found that this was too many stitches, though. After doing the first armhole this way, I thought it was kind of wavy and ruffle-y. When I did the next armhole, I skipped a stitch every so often (maybe 3/4? or 4/5?). The result was much better. Here is a photo I took before ripping out armhole #1 on the right – you can see how it’s not as smooth as the one on the left: IMG_6247 The stitch pickup instructions for the neckband were fine, if a bit complicated to keep track of (different ratios for picking upon the vertical, diagonal, and horizontal edges). I had 333 stitches in that pickup.

Here’s where my anxiety level started to rise. The pattern calculated that I would need 849 yards of yarn total. I think I read somewhere that CustomFit builds in a cushion so that is a conservative estimate. I had 5 balls, or 960 yards. I should have been fine on yardage. But I was running so low that I left off the last 2 rows of the daisy stitch pattern on the neckband (working it for 14 rows, not 16 – the hem edge has 16). Even still, I wasn’t sure I would get through the 3 rows of garter stitch plus bindoff. It was a real nailbiter, but this is how much yarn I had left: 20150619_194933Yikes! The next morning, I pinned it out a bit and sprayed the neckband and armholes with water so they would lay as smoothly as the rest of the sweater:IMG_6495

The sweater doesn’t look so great hanging on a hanger, so I have to show it to you on a model. But please keep in mind – this is a CustomFit pattern for someone who is NOT ME, so it’s not going to look perfect. My mom is a little shorter than me and a bit wider. She also prefers that her sweaters hang lower than I do. And she lives in a faraway state, so you won’t see pictures of it on her for many months. Anyway, here goes!

2.Maybe you can get the general idea?1I don’t think it hurt the neckband one bit to leave off those last two rows – it lays nicely:3.I can cross that big gift knitting item off my list. Next up I will have a reclaimed hat to show you. Hope your summer is going well!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Winter is coming

I’ve recently finished a couple of projects that will feel very warm for S1 next winter.IMG_6022First up: a new scarf. I wove this one on my 12-dent heddle that I got for Mother’s Day. This means there are 12 warp yarns per inch (or 12 “ends per inch”), and it’s perfect for sock yarn. I chose to use this skein of Silkie Socks that Rock that has been marinating in stash since 2008. It was about that time that I began to doubt the wisdom of using this yarn for actual socks, so it has languished. It created such a lovely tweed effect in plain weave. The hemstitch looks great, too:

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I just realized that I haven’t shown you how my loom has been transformed. The more I gazed upon its plain birch frame, the more I thought it could use a little pizzazz. So I asked S1 to “art it up.” Here’s what she came up with!IMG_6223S1 could also use a new hat for this fall. I asked her to look through all the hats I have tagged as “favorites” or are in my queue in Ravelry. She picked the Lucy cloche, a different style for her. I used some of my Julia from stash (I am slowly knitting down the big impulse buy I made when it was on sale a few years ago… it’s awesome yarn but I feel kind of guilty that I have so much!)lucy crop This is a pretty straightforward hat with a contrasting color section worked in a woven stitch… and some short rows that make the part that turns up like on Robin Hood. I actually knit the hat twice, since the first time it came out too big. I really didn’t mind ripping it back since it gave me the chance to improve the pattern. The way it’s written, the color jog is not hidden by the folded up section. I took this photo before ripping:

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When I reknit it, I adjusted things so that it would be hidden under the flap. Much better.lucy crop 2

I’m in the finishing stages of my mom’s green sweater vest. With any luck, I’ll have a finished object to share soon. It has gone so fast that I don’t think I’ve showed you any part of it yet!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Socks a second time

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This free pattern is so nice I’ve made it twice (here’s the first time). Do you recognize it? It’s Hermione’s Everyday Socks and it’s free, so you should queue it if you haven’t already. IMG_6018The texture is pleasingly nubbly and it looks a lot more complicated than it is.  IMG_6168This was my autopilot/work project for a while. Typical construction for me: top-down, eye of partridge heel, graduated toe, over 64 stitches.IMG_6169I bought this yarn at Sock Summit 2011, so it’s been marinating for a while. I think the result is dreamy and I look forward to wearing these in the fall. For now, they wait patiently in my sock drawer.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Handspun Cladonia


It took me a while to get decent pictures, but thanks to Julie’s garden and Barb’s photography, now I do!

You might remember this yarn I spun back in October during Spinzilla. Both skeins together weighed 234 g and I had 594 yards.Inspired by this version of Kristen Kapur’s Cladonia shawl, I cast on. I left off the loopy edging but otherwise just followed the pattern. I made a little gauge swatch just to find out what size needle resulted in a fabric I liked – it was US 7. The pattern calls for US 7 but fingering weight yarn, and my yarn was fatter. Still, the wool/silk fabric is beautifully drapey while still being warm.

The finished shawl was a little longer than my blocking board, so I kind of improvised some extensions to get the tips pinned out:
The finished shawl weighs 206 grams and I only have 16 grams of yarn remaining (I guess there’s a little bit in the swatch, too). I am really pleased about using up so much of it on a single project! My calculations suggest I used about 523 yards.

Julie’s garden is enchanting. This is some type of willow tree with green and white leaves. I would never have guessed it was a willow, but she says it’s an unusual variety. There’s also a big flat boulder that is the perfect surface for showcasing knitwear:
We were at Julie’s for knit night. At some point in the evening, we realized that SIX of the project bags Judy made us were in attendance. So I put them together for a photo:

Judy chose the fabric carefully for each one and they are perfect for us. Mine is the center one in the front row – lots of blue and green. It is currently my favorite project bag!

UPDATED: Just had to spend 1 hour+ troubleshooting why Windows Live Writer no longer publishes to Blogger. It's a Microsoft problem. They abandoned their own product I guess. We'll see if this posts successfully.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I wish to go to the Festival!

IMG_5873 The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was just lovely this year. We had fantastic weather. This year, Steven was visiting from Austin and my whole family went because they didn’t want to miss a single moment with him. We knew it was going to be a great day when (a) we got a fantastic parking space close to the entrance, and (b) this was on the car right next to us:  IMG_5866

Somehow I didn’t take very many photos this year. Too busy shopping, perhaps? We took a break for lunch on “the grassy knoll” (as Kris calls it). I happened to sit next to Sasha Torres from Sheepspot, whom I recognized from her newsletter. She used to do the podcast SpinDoctor (which I miss) and now she’s selling small-batch, breed-specific yarns. You can see the pile of fleeces she bought earlier in the day piled up behind us – these will end up on her website. She let me snap a lock of something (a breed that started with a “t” with which I wasn’t familiar) and I heard the “ping” – that was pretty cool! Here are Caitlin, Sasha, and me:

IMG_5885 My first purchase of the day was enough fiber to spin yarn for a sweater. I got it at Sweitzer’s Fiber Mill, which is located not too far away in Seven Valleys, PA. I will try to organize a field trip for our knit group to go tour the mill sometime this summer – they were very open to the idea. I LOVE touring places (remember when Julie and I went to the Kraemer mill? SO FUN!).IMG_5880 I saw a huge bag of gorgeous greyish fiber streaked with various other muted colors, and just loved it. I asked what it was (it was labeled by price but not content) and was told (somewhat sheepishly) that it was mill leftovers that they carded together. I asked if it was wool. “Yes,” she said “but a bunch of different breeds.” I said “it’s so soft!” and she said it had some alpaca in it, too – but more wool than alpaca. By this time I was sold and I bought 24 ounces. I think this will end up being way more than I need for a sweater, but that gives me plenty for sampling and swatching. IMG_5945 I also found some buttons that go with this fiber PERFECTLY – they are from Dimensions and they are raku. This is a type of ceramic firing. There are 6 buttons:

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After that, I saw an opening to slip into the Into the Whirled booth, and I took it. Last year, Caitlin and I admired their batts – but I didn’t purchase one because I felt I didn’t deserve it somehow. Well, I’ve spun a LOT of yarn this past year and so I bought myself a batt! Isn’t it pretty? I purposely DID NOT buy the green and turquoise one I initially picked up. These are colors my mom will like, and I have in mind making a Clockwork or Spectra or something like that for her. IMG_5930 Also, this batt is made of Falkland fiber, which I’ve never spun. So, instant self-enablement. See how I did that?

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After lunch, we made our way through some of the barns. That’s where I found Gale’s Art. I wanted to check out her hand painted, hand printed sock blanks. Sock blanks first appeared some years ago, and I wasn’t intrigued at all. But Gale takes them to a new level. They are so beautiful to begin with, and then you unravel them to make a sock that is really unique. Susan B. Anderson kept instagramming hers as she knit them, which is how I got hooked (you can see photos in this blog post). Here is the one I bought (selected by Boy 1 – this will become socks for him):IMG_5936 I don’t know how she makes these. The background is hand-painted, I suppose… but how she gets the print quite like that I don’t know. Maybe some kind of resist technique? IMG_5938 It sure is beautiful.

Then we all headed over to the Bartlettyarns tent. This is where I got the blue yarn last year that just became the super warm cardigan (with the too-short sleeves that need to be fixed before next winter). He makes lots of gorgeous heathered yarns and I thought S1 would dig them. She did! We bought enough of this to make her a sweater. This is the sportweight yarn – it should knit a thinner, drapier sweater than the blue one I just finished. A cone is 4 skeins. I thought I needed 5 skeins, so I bought a cone plus one skein. It pleases me to have purchased a cone of yarn. IMG_5925 I thought I was done shopping then, but I succumbed to one more delight: a silk hanky. I have never knit or spun a silk hanky but I’m game to try.IMG_5942 This thing has lots of layers, kind of like phyllo dough. You pull them apart and then work with the fiber. This is from Briar Rose Fibers (this was her first time at MDSW, but I’d seen her stuff at Sock Summit 2009 and Rhinebeck). Gorgeous. This time I DID buy my favorite color palette. Caitlin said “but it’s such a great version of those colors!” and that’s all it took… IMG_5944Despite buying a lot of grey fluff, I came home with a rainbow of colors. Here’s the loot all together: IMG_5951Steven did some shopping, too, but in an entirely different palette. Here’s his haul:  IMG_5934 Pretty different, huh?! I didn’t even realize Spirit Trail Fiberworks sold grey yarn. But Steven found it!

IMG_5909 We also had a fantastic demo from The Drafting Zone person about how a walking wheel works. I have seen these used several times but never understood it until now. This woman gave such an amazingly clear explanation that I dragged Steven and Caitlin back there to hear it again.

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And you know what? The chakra is just a mini-version of the walking wheel laid flat:IMG_5906 We also saw an angora rabbit being spun into yarn while the bunny rested peacefully on the spinner’s lap. This trick always impresses me:

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They also had baby bunnies – just two weeks old and their eyes still shut! IMG_5895

It was another great year at the festival.

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