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.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Winter is for sweaters

I cast on a new sweater a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had requests from two family members who want sweaters, and while I’m happy to oblige, neither project can be made from stash yarn of which I have sweater quantities. I didn’t feel right purchasing more yarn when I have yarn. So I did some quick searching on Ravelry, tried not to overthink, and started a new sweater.

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The yarn is Bartlettyarn Fisherman 2-ply that I purchased at MDSW in 2013. I swatched with it over a year ago when planning my first CustomFit sweater. I decided then that that yarn was a little too chunky and a little too rustic for that first sweater. But now I’m returning to it to make a CustomFit version of Stonington by Amy Herzog.fronts blocking This yarn is knitting up very quickly. Before I knew it, I had the back and two fronts done. I’m over halfway through sleeve #1 right now. Soon I’ll need to shop for buttons and a shirt to wear with it. This yarn is crunchy enough (even after rinsing with hair conditioner) that I’ll find it uncomfortable right next to my neck. You’ll notice that Amy models hers with a collared shirt, which is what I’ll do once I own one.

IMG_5552 The yarn color is true in the top picture, not the blocking photos. But I couldn’t resist sharing the view of blocking pins on the horizon. Those little yellow flowers always make me smile.

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Because I had this swatch on file and my measurements were already in the CustomFit website, this was an easy project to jump into. I really wish I had the sweater ready to wear NOW. The weather forecast calls for sweaters:image But I’m so distracted! I received a 15” Cricket loom for Valentine’s Day this morning and I want to play with that! What a luxury of troubles to have.

Hope you have some fiber love today!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Custom

S1 and I have been doing more walking than ever recently, thanks to our Fit Bit goals (12,000 steps/day). On work days, a lot of that walking happens around campus - in work clothes. Recently, she said that she was on the verge of developing a blister on her toe because of the roughness in the yarn of a handknit sock. What?! I’ve never heard of this before.

The sock in question was this Monkey made in American B.R.A.N.D. yarn. I was eager to try this yarn because it is U.S.-made from start to finish. It is not super soft like superwash merino, but it’s durable and beautiful in its way.

IMG_2984 S1 loves these socks, so I wanted to make them work. These were knit top down, so the fix was easy. I just picked up stitches (so easy to do in stockinette), cut off the toes, and reknit them in another yarn.

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The bottom of the sock was felted a bit at the ball of the foot. I had to pierce the fabric there instead of just catching a loop, but it seemed to work out fine. IMG_5523These photos should have been color corrected. The real color is a yellowish beige like the top photo.

The yarn is super ramen-y after being knit for many months!IMG_5525New toe, old toe: IMG_5529 What’s the point of knitting by hand if you can’t customize? No one but S1 (and all of you) will ever know she’s sporting orange toes on her yellow socks. But her toes will be happy.

Do you have any socks that rub you wrong? If I walk too much in this pair, I feel the purl nubs rubbing against my feet. My solution is to wear a thin pair of cotton socks as a liner.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The search for the perfect mitten continues…

These mittens were intended to be a quick, gratifying project following on the heels of finishing the epic chevron blanket. I spied this pattern on Ravelry before Christmas and was completely enamored with how darn cute this particular version is.

Mine came out like this: mittens_crop

I’ve been looking to upgrade my warm handwear this winter, since I tend to lose circulation in the tips of my fingers when it’s cold. This past fall, I’ve been wearing commercial fleece gloves with a pair of handknit mittens on top. The mittens are made from a warm blend of merino and angora from Jamie Harmon. I haven’t had any trouble with cold fingers, but the angora creates a lot of fuzz that gets in the way and makes a mess. I wanted some mittens that would be as warm as that combo, but more durable. This pattern seemed perfect!snowball cropWhile I’m fairly happy with the result, the process of creating them was frustrating. I had to modify the pattern a lot, starting before I even cast on. The designer calls for a gauge of 8 st/in on the outer mitten, which is made of sock yarn. I chose a ball of Trekking XXL for my outer mitten. I just made a pair of socks from Trekking XXL last fall, and I got 8 st/in on a 2.0 mm needle. The larger mitten is only 1 stitch bigger in circumference than my socks, so I put the socks on my hands. They were WAY too tight and small. So, I upsized. IMG_4992The pattern calls for an i-cord cast-on. I thought it looked nice and I hadn’t tried the technique before, so I worked it. But the wrist opening for the mitten was WAY too big and would have let a lot of cold air in. So I ripped that back and replaced it with ribbing.

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The pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn in the liner mitten. I reached for this Julia out of my stash, since it is a warm blend of 50% wool, 25% alpaca, and 25% mohair. But since the yarn weight was different, I essentially had to rewrite the pattern AGAIN. I did a fair bit of ripping and reknitting to get these done!IMG_5428 The lining is just whip-stitched into place. I put the mittens over my phone to hold everything in the right position. I used segments of the sock yarn that matched the stripe I was sewing into, just to make sure it wouldn’t show on the right side of the mitten. Here’s a finished one from the inside:

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The ribbing fits under my coat sleeve but doesn’t add nearly as much bulk as it would if it were lined, too.IMG_5432 I’ve worn these quite a bit during the past two weeks. They aren’t quite as warm as my fleece glove/wool & angora mitten combo, but they are pretty good. What I really appreciate is how TOUGH the outer mitten is. That XXL is rustic stuff. I have wiped ice off my windshield wipers with the mitten, and it doesn’t seem to be worse for wear. Plus, no moisture got down to my skin. That is really nice.

I’m not giving up on lined mittens, but I’ll make some changes next time. I think I’d like to use fingering weight yarn on both layers. I’ll use a tough yarn on the outside and a much softer one on the inside. And I think I’ll use Susan B. Anderson’s Waiting for Winter mitten pattern as my guide (though she specifies worsted weight yarn so maybe not). I’ve made her pattern and it was perfect the first time.

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So far, I’ve had TWO unsatisfactory pattern experiences in 2015. That’s annoying!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Leftovers

I’m always surprised to hear that some people won’t eat leftovers. I generally like them, although sometimes I transform them into something new rather than eating the same exact thing again at another meal.

I found myself knitting leftovers of both types this winter.

First, Remember the cowl I made from Great White Bale Lot #1? It was a really simple pattern composed of just ribbing and seed stitch. 38-2crop This winter, S1 asked for a new cowl. The one I made her a couple years ago has a tendency to snag on the corner of her glasses. Plus, she keeps wearing it inside out which bugs me (and no one else). She pointed to my GWB cowl and said “…something like this, sturdy but soft.” I said “how about something JUST like that, because I have another skein of that yarn and could whip it up so fast?” So, we now have the cowl’s twin, made from leftovers:cowl crop I made it exactly like the first one except that I forgot to do the clever bind-off (*K2tog tbl, transfer stitch back to left needle*) and just did the regular one instead. She’ll never know.

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My second leftovers were from the Epic Chevron Blanket project. We got some new living room furniture last year. It’s got a groovy, mid-century modern style… you know, with the chair legs that taper down? The furniture pads that stick to the bottom of the legs don’t stay on very well. That’s important because (a) we have a hard floor and (b) we move the chair/ottoman almost daily if we want to watch TV. So, I knit some chair socks. They are little tiny cylinders with cushy garter stitch on the bottom and a bit of ribbing at the top:IMG_5441 And they fit on our chair/ottoman legs just perfectly!

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I stuffed a little fiber in to fill in the gap between the bottom of that button thing on the leg and the edge of the leg before putting on the socks (does that make sense?):IMG_5447My initial plan was to knit most of the socks in dark brown, to blend in with the legs, but make one in yellow to be fun and to coordinate with the throw pillows. But then I ran out of brown and switched over to a deep blue that is one of the blanket colors.

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Here’s the pattern:

CO 8. Join to knit in the round. (I use two circulars)
Round 1: P
Round 2: *Kfb* (16)
Round 3: P
Round 4 *K1 Kfb* (24)
Round 5: P
Knit the next 16 rounds.
*K2 P2* ribbing for 5 rounds.
BO in pattern.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

L’enveloppe… the first

Sally Melville claims you can’t make just one L’enveloppe, and I have to agree – I’ll be making another one of these in another color! What do you think?crop1 It’s not really a sweater, because it only has one sleeve and doesn’t come all the way to the waist. But it’s not really a shawl, because it has a neck opening and one sleeve. It’s just this warm yarn-y thing.

I know these photos aren’t great, but it turns out that this deep eggplant purple is really hard to photograph, especially in winter with all the light bouncing off the snow. I’m on the shady side of the house in the afternoon, but still have only a few photos where you can see the stitch definition.crop4 I did an unusual amount of swatching for this project (5 swatches!), especially since it is written for a generous FOUR different gauges (13, 14, 15, and 16 st/4”). Because the sweater I made with the first half of this handspun yarn was knit on a US 5 and I knew I wanted something with more drape, I started with a US 6. Then I did a 7. Then I tried holding this yarn and some Silky Wool left over from S1’s sweater together with a 9. Then an 8. Finally I settled on the handspun alone on a US 9. The only problem was that my gauge was 14.5 st/4”, not 14 or 15.crop3

Once again, I turned to my old friend, Math, to solve this conundrum. I wanted a size M but ended up following the directions for size S worked in the 16 st/4” gauge. The numbers seemed to be what I was looking for, and it worked out pretty well. The L’enveloppe could be a wee bit more snug, but it’s not crazy big.

In some ways, this project reminds me of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket. You knit this odd shape:  IMG_5410 Then you sew a seam that creates the neck opening. Next, you pick up stitches to make the cape-like cup that covers the left shoulder and knit those downward. And finally, you sew one more little seam that makes the single armhole. Then you have to figure out how to put it on! It’s like wearable origami.crop2The pattern comes with instructions to make this in garter or seed stitch. I chose the garter to start with but my next one will be seed. I also think making a more neutral-colored version would be useful. IMG_5413This is the yarn I originally spun for SPAKAL 2012. I made the Leaflet sweater and had lots left over. I used all my leftovers here, but I also unraveled the button band from Leaflet. I realized I wasn’t really wearing it because it doesn’t fit right in the waist. I was happy to cannibalize from something I don’t wear for something I hopefully will. I still need to finish unraveling the rest of the sweater.

My finished L’enveloppe weighs 356 grams. I estimate that at 562 yards. Most of it was easy, mindless garter stitch worked over the winter break while traveling.

Caitlin and I knit our L’enveloppes together (after being inspired by hearing Sally speak back in September). Caitlin, we want to see photos on the blog please!