Wednesday, December 17, 2014

North Pole Color

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This is a very quick post to show that Boy 1’s socks are done! They knit up super fast at only 48 stitches around on 2.75mm needles. I’m so glad I reknit the first sock. The difference between working on 2.5s and 2.75s was huge – I hadn’t realized how much the 2.5 needles were hurting my hands until I moved up.IMG_5159Boy 1 is such a patient and obedient sock model. I say “strike a pose!” and he gives me all kinds of variations. Not all my sock models do that. Just saying. IMG_5162 The yarn is Regia North Pole Color #06094. It comes in a giant 150g ball (Ravelry says it is DK!). I used 88 grams on these socks and have 62 grams remaining. I made these a little big for him since he is growing so quickly. I used the graduated toe again like I did on my purple socks and Dan’s socks. I guess that’s my signature toe for fall 2014.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Group Work

I have two projects to report on today, both related to my beloved knitting group. IMG_5016First: we did it again! We made a blanket as a surprise wedding gift! This one was sooooo secret that it was delivered a full 6 months after the vows were made; hopefully it was no less sweet for being late. We followed the same pattern we used for our first secret group project: Staci’s free Log Cabin Scrap Blanket pattern. Instead of making each square different, we went for a more orderly effect. I think Caitlin likes it!

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She certainly was surprised. One amusing detail: we picked these colors because they coordinated well with some Roman shades she sewed earlier this year. We had the distinct impression they were meant for her living room window. But… they are actually for her bathroom. So we joke that this is her bathroom blanket.IMG_5014 The yarn is (once again) Cascade 220 Superwash. The colors, from inside square outward, are: strawberry cream, lichen, raspberry, and doeskin heather.

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The second project I have to share with you are some wooly critters from our annual C3 party. This is the fourth year S1 and I have hosted the anti-stress holiday party titled Crafts, Cookies, and Cocktails. We have one yarn craft each year (as the knitters attend in full force), but also several non-yarn activities for our other lovely guests. This year, the official yarn project was the Mini Pookie. With more or less the same body shape, you can make a polar bear, arctic fox, or sheep. I made a test sheep (our of Cascade 220 Superwash left over from Jess’s blanket): IMG_5051

This project definitely takes longer to knit than the mini aliens from the initial year of C3, but it could still be completed during the party. I present evidence from Caitlin and Heidi, who both knit the polar bear version:IMG_5167 Note the differences in gauge. Our little pookies could be source material for Goldilocks:

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Several other critters were nearly done by night’s end, including this one. Marta managed to break both her needles so we think she needs to loosen up on her stitches!IMG_5173As usual, an excellent time was had by all.  This gathering has become a cherished tradition in our annual calendar. Thank you friends for sharing yourselves and your love of craft with us again this year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mum’s the word

I mentioned last time that I was relieved to finish S1’s sweater in November, as a couple of other December projects popped up. Both of them have to do with my mother.

IMG_5113The first is this set of felted pumpkins. Earlier this year my mom mailed me a hard copy of the pattern. She saw some pumpkins made up in a shop somewhere and I guess they sold the pattern, too. The She added a note that essentially said “I really like these!” I eked a couple of pumpkins out of bits of orange yarn in my worsted feltable stash. I downsized them a little, as I only had 30 grams of one orange and 20 grams of another… but they came out fine. The leaf was supposed to be worked from sportweight yarn, and I had a single ball of Wool of the Andes Sport in color “Pampas Heather” (Steven, this is totally your color, btw). IMG_5112I’m glad I downsized them, because I was able to use my largest tapestry needle to make the “ribs” with yarn at the end. The pattern says to use a 6-8” upholstery needle to do these, and I own no such needle.

Okay, the pumpkins are cute, but the next mom project is going to knock your socks off. My older son is learning to sew in school – he has a class this semester called “Get the FaCS” which is Family and Consumer Science (which is Home Ec to us oldsters). He only has this class every 4 days and was getting frustrated at the slow pace. I offered to show him how to sew, and he really enjoys it. His first project was a drawstring bag, his second project was a simple lined tote bag (this tutorial), and his third project is a Christmas present for his grandmother (this tutorial).bagThis is actually a joint gift from the boys to their Gran. Boy 2 designed the fabric – he drew the little owls and S1 helped him upload everything to Spoonflower. The color choices are entirely his. Perhaps a little garish… but Gran’s favorite color is green so we hope she likes this. Here is a closeup of the owls:fabric closeup We made a couple of changes to the pattern. First, we fused a midweight interfacing to the outer layer and handles in order to make the bag sturdier (the fabric is just regular quilting weight). Also, Boy 1 wanted to add a pocket to the inside. After much consideration, he decided that 7x4” was the right size. (I would have made more pockets, and bigger ones, but this was HIS project.) Want to peek inside?pocket I actually found the Spoonflower fabric pretty challenging to work with. We washed and dried it before cutting, and it did not shrink evenly. I measured everything very carefully so that the chevron fabric would be straight, and we sort of had trapezoidal pieces. We squared them up later and the result looks good, but that was unexpected. Boy 1 even said “we are just buying regular fabric next time.”

I’m 99.9% sure my mom doesn’t read this blog. But if you know my mom, mum’s the word! These are secrets until 12/25. One last look at the bag:

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas #CardiParty2014

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I’ve been plugging away at this project for a while. After making my first CustomFit sweater, I knew that S1’s next sweater would also be a CustomFit. I bought this yarn way back in April at the WEBS anniversary sale – it’s Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in the color Blackcurrant. IMG_3251Having fretted about sweaters made from thicker yarn in the past, I didn’t think much about the weight of this yarn. I know that skinnier yarn makes drapier, potentially better-fitting sweaters. But holy crow, this is thin yarn! I worked the sweater on US 4 needles (3.5 mm), which yielded 5.6 stitches/in in stockinette. Yet, the sweater is so light and airy (due to how the yarn is spun) – the entire sweater weighs only 338 grams.

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This is a Custom Fit version of Amy Herzog’s Cushing Isle cardigan. All waist shaping is in the back of the sweater only; the fronts are straight for a more relaxed fit.IMG_5092I found the stockinette portions to be so easy that they traveled with me to work and soccer games – even the back of the sweater, which didn’t scream “I’m knitting a full sweater here” due to its light weight. I saved the fronts for last, because they involved an 8-row repeat on the stitch pattern as well as simultaneous shaping for the deep neckline and armholes. Those were knit strictly at home.

A few inches in on the first front, I decided to knit a couple stockinette stitches at the edge of the piece before beginning the stitch pattern, thinking it would make my life easier when it came to picking up stitches for the button band later. You can see that here – the piece on the left (which is actually the right front of the sweater) isn’t smooth at the edge because of the stitch pattern. I decided not to reknit that and am glad I didn’t.

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Later I kind of wished I had only added ONE stockinette stitch at the edge rather than two, as I liked the way the ribbing on the button band appeared out of nowhere in that section. But the single line of stockinette looks nice, too – and I doubt anyone but me (or now you, since a knitter notices these things after having them pointed out) will ever see it:IMG_5103 The buttons are simple metal ones from JoAnn’s: IMG_5065 And I used Margaret Fisher’s one-row horizontal buttonhole instead of the specified one (which is the totally lame K2tog YO buttonhole – yuck!).

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I cast on for the sweater on 9/16/14 and finished sewing on the buttons on 11/29/14, so I managed to finish it in time to enter the Doubleknit podcast #CardiParty2014 KAL contest on Ravelry. This is S1’s Christmas gift for 2014. I am very happy with the result and thrilled that it was finished before December, because December always brings last-minute craziness that pulls me away from my knitting! (You might see some of that in my next post!)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Two steps forward, one step back

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First, these are my two steps forward – the most recent pair of plain vanilla socks to fall off the needles. I started these in mid-September when in need of something small and simple to knit during soccer games, and they took me about 2 months of knitting in those rare moments (also at work). I find this colorway very cheerful (Trekking XXL color 506).purple socks crop They look so bright in these photos, but believe me, there are some dark stripes there. I had difficulty knitting in low light.

Now, for my “one step back.” I fell down and bought some more self-patterning yarn when Simply Socks Yarn Company had a sale on Regia. Boy 1 picked out this ball of “North Pole Color.” It’s marked “6-fadig” which I thought meant sportweight… but I think it’s actually a bit heavier. Ravelry describes it as DK, and the ballband suggests a US 3-6 needle!IMG_4984I started knitting these on a 2.5mm needle because that’s how I usually do sportweight socks. They are pretty tight, but Boy 1 kept trying them on and we thought they’d be okay (I cast on 46 for him – his feet aren’t quite as big as mine but they are getting close). Last night I finished the gusset decreases and sped toward the toe. We had another fitting today so I could plan the toe decreases and… well… I think they’re just too snug.IMG_5108 I ripped them out right after taking this photo. Easy come, easy go!

I’m going to increase my CO number to 48 when I start again, and I’m also going to bump up my needle size to 2.75 mm. We’ll see where that gets us.

In other very exciting new, I finished S1’s Christmas sweater. That deserves its own post, so I’ll share that with you next time!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hedgehog sighting

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Daylight Savings Time has ended, so it’s time to start thinking about this year’s C3 party – that’s Crafts, Cookies, and Cocktails, in case you forgot. This has become a fun anti-stress event that S1 and I look forward to hosting each December. There is always a knitting craft as well as some other crafts that require no special skills.IMG_4995 It is a challenge to find a knitted craft that can be made within an hour or two – while drinking and socializing. I was charmed by this hedgehog pattern and did a test knit last Saturday. I’m sad to report that as cute as he is, he took more than 2 hours, so I don’t think he’s the right craft for this party.

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Hedgie is awfully cute, though. Boy 2 is IN LOVE with him and picked up the needles again to make his own version. Here’s the thing, though: this project requires the PURL STITCH, which he doesn’t know. I’ve tried to teach him but he’s had none of it. Now he’s motivated to learn it, so things are going a little better!

Has anyone read this book? Other titles by Jan Brett are charming in a simple, old-fashioned way, but this one is quite a departure for her. When we first read this to our toddlers, S1 and I looked at each other and said “Was Jan Brett on crack when she wrote this? It’s so unlike her!” Next time you’re in the children’s room of your local public library, take a quick look.

#CardiParty update – I finished knitting the sleeves of S1’s Christmas sweater a couple weeks ago (remember, it’s the Cushing Isle CustomFit pattern). Here’s the proof: IMG_4632The fronts are taking me longer because the stitch pattern requires some attention – this isn’t portable knitting I can do at work. I buckled down last weekend and made enough progress on the right front that I finished it last night. No photos yet– you can look forward to that next time.

Hedgie says bye-bye for now!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jacob have I loved

photo (5) You may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of a longdraw kick, spinning-wise. The day after Spinzilla ended, I picked up my last ball of roving in stash (roving prep is needed for a true woolen spun yarn). It was the light brown ball in this photo:IMG_6122I got both of these from the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth back at MDSW 2010 (I know!). They are from different farms, but I got them at the same booth. I even had the receipt in the bag – each ball is about 4 oz and they cost only $10 each. A pittance, I say!IMG_4849I don’t know if this particular roving was exceptionally well-prepared or if I am getting noticeably better at spinning it, but this spun like a dream. I will definitely be going back to see if this vendor is selling again in May 2015. The light brown roving was from Tannery Spring in Schaefferstown, PA. I spun it just as I did the dark brown roving (spun 14:1, plied 16:1) and got a total of 369 yards. My finished skeins weigh in together at 140 grams, which is 4.95 ounces. The ball of roving was labeled “4 oz” so this was a very generous vendor! This yarn is so squishy. I wish you could reach into the screen and feel it:IMG_4784 Let’s just have another look at its chocolate-y cousin which was spun right before Spinzilla:IMG_4570 Mmmmmm.

Just as I was finishing this yarn and thinking that my next spinning project would need to be a worsted style yarn, I won a contest. And not just any contest… one from PLY Magazine! They had a contest to win a pound of fiber that was used to make the Swing Step Cardi from the Autumn 2014 issue. The sweater is designed by Amy Herzog (umm, YES) and is gorgeous:image

(This photo is from the PLY website.) It hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, but it is a blend called Suriland (50/50 Shetland and Suri alpaca) from Fancy Fibers. I’ll share photos when I get it. You can bet I’ll be spinning it longdraw!