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Edie spring t-shit sweater

Hi! Happy New Year!

I know we’re a few days in already but I’ve been slow to start this year. Something about the first just didn’t feel like New Years. After a quite few days that “new beginnings” feeling is starting to sink in and I feel like trying to clean house (metaphorically!)

I spent a day doing my traditional new years stash toss. Going through what I have to make sure nothing crawly has gotten to it in the last year, but also to remember and re-feel everything.

I also updated my Ravelry account with some things I’ve been lax in getting posted. 2015 wasn’t the most productive knitting or blogging year for me, but I did finish a few things I have yet to show you.

Edie

That is the Edie sweater by Michele Wang. Yarn recommended was the 100% wool Brooklyn Tweed LOFT. I’m sure that would make a great layering piece for fall and winter, but I wanted a summer tee. I substituted Rowan Panama for the LOFT.  Panama is 12% linen, 33% cotton, and 55% viscose. Perfect for spring!

I started knitting this because I was asked to teach the pattern as a class. As it turned out, not enough people signed up for the class so it didn’t end up happening. After that I put the project away for a long time. I found it this spring and thought it would be a good wardrobe addition so I set to work. Mostly I knit for the process and don’t generally care when things get finished. (If you’ve read any of this blog and can feel you rolling your eyes and signing “I know!”) This time though, I wanted the sweater.

The yarn is so comfy to wear. It feels nice and cool and soft. It’s not so comfy to knit with. Cotton and linen doing have the spriong that wool does and the lack of give is just murder on my hands. Especially on those cable rows.

Edie

The end result was totally worth it though. The viscose in the yarn is a bit shiny. The cotton and linen are not shiny at all so the knit fabric has a subtle depth of color.

I pretty much followed the pattern. My gauge with the Panema was a bit bigger than the pattern gauge. It worked out pretty easily that I could just follow directions for the size smaller and end up with the right size for me. The only “alteration” i made was to make the waist 3 inches longer. since I’m not wearing this as a layering piece I didn’t want it cropped.

Edie

I did cast on a New Year’s day project (I wasn’t that off my game.) It’s Fractal Danger by Martina Behm. I have the first 10 rows done!

Elektra off the needles and blocked

Somehow I managed to go five months without a post even though I actually have been knitting and have a few things to show off. I could resolve to do better, but you know how effective that’s been in the past… This July I finally cast off the Elektra I’ve been working on since October of 2012.

Elekra

This Romi Hill pattern is from her 7 Small Shawls Year One collection. I started it, like so many other projects, because it was part of a knit-a-long that I joined. The knit-a-long only lasted one month and when it was ended I didn’t really continue to give the project any attention. My finishing kick this year made me pull it out and finally get it off the needles.

Elektra

The pattern is beaded down each of the “spines” and around the lace motifs. I used cheap size 6 seed beads from Michaels. The match the yarn color I used very well so they blend in and just add a bit of sparkle. The yarn is Dream in Color Baby which is unfortunately discontinued. The yarn is 100% merino lace weight and has an interesting “crunch” in the texture. It’s still quite soft but also somehow a little rustic. The colorway is called Aqua Jet and has an overdyed kettle quality to it.

Elektra

I used the crochet method to attach my beads, and while it definitely makes the project go slower than normal but it was much more manageable than stringing hundreds of beads in advance. Like all of Romi’s patterns this one was very well written and easy to follow and I had no troubles with it at all. Now I just have to wait for fall scarf weather to reach us. We’re having a long summer here in Portland and even though it’s October its still reaching the 80s here on the regular. Soon enough.

Market Jacket just in time for spring

The yarn store I used to work at hosts a monthly knit-a-long. Back in 2013, the January KAL was the Market Jacket by Tanis Gray from the book November Knits. The book has several sweaters that I plan to make eventually, including this one and this one.

I started the KAL as a way of hanging out with the knitters, but once the month ended I didn’t do much work on the sweater because I had other things going and it wasn’t a “priority” project. You’re thinking… Do you have an excuse for why every project takes you two years to finish?… The answer is yes, yes I do.

Market Jacket

 

Unfortunately crappy indoor light is all I have for you. This is a top-down raglan style sweater. There are cable panels down each front, each sleeve, and one down the back. Otherwise the sweater is stockinette with garter stitch borders. It’s a nice combination of mostly-mindless with some fun when you get to the cable panels.

Market Jacket

 

 

That sort of shows the detail of the cable panels. It’s hard to take a picture of a sweater you are wearing. Inside the cable panel is a bit of lace, just to make it that much more interesting.

IMG_1516

That’s not intended to be a picture of my breast… just another good shot of the cable/lace. The color of the yarn is just dark enough to make taking photos a pain. In real life the detail is actually quite easy to see. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in colorway Waistcoat.

Market Jacket

 

The only modification I made to the patter was to make the body of the sweater longer by 3 inches and to make the sleeves full length. To make the sleeves longer I continued the decrease row as established until the sleeves were wrist-length then I added the cuff. Because the torso was longer I had to add a few more button holes, keeping the same pattern as established to add the buttonholes required by the project.

Market Jacket

 

If I made this again, the only other thing I would change would be not to use YOs to make the raglan increases. I think they are pretty, but they make for not very stable shoulders. By the end of the day my sleeves have grown about 3 more inches in length and I have to shove them up behind my elbows. I think using a stronger increase, like a M1, would help combat the droop. There’s just too much stretch with a YO.

Market Jacket

 

This, plus the Wildflower Cardigan I finished in February make two new sweaters for the year so far. Of course, now it’s too warm for a wool sweater, so they’ll both have to get put away, nearly unworn, until next season. My train knitting right now is a lovely cotton, rayon, linen summer tee. Given my trend, I’ll probably get it finished just as summer is ending…

Wildflower Cardigan off the needs and blocked!

I really think my blogging frequency would improve substantially if I had a personal photographer. Sweater pictures are just impossible on your own. You either get crappy mirror selfies like so:

IMG_1400

 

Or, if you go outside to try to get some good light, you get the weird-angle mostly-boob shots like so:

WildflowerWildflowerWildflower

Color accurate, but not exactly great for showing off the new sweater. Putting the sweater on a hanger makes it look like a shapeless bag. I need to either get a dress form or blackmail a photographer to do my bidding…

wildflower

 

My current solution is to pack my sweaters around until I visit a friend I can beg to take some pictures. Meet the completed Wildflower Cardigan by Alana Dakos. The pattern is available individually through Ravelry, but it’s also part of the book Costal Knits which is full of gorgeous patterns. This is the first sweater from the book I have knit, but I could see myself wearing all of them!

Wildflower

I think the pockets are so darling! They’re not going to be much use for actually storing anything, but I love the little flower. The detail along the hem is pretty sweet also. It does curl the tiniest bit though, so if you are the type of person who is bothered by things like that, think twice. Watching it curl while I was knitting, I was worried it would be really bad, but it’s just the slight curl you see in the corner of that photo.

Wildflower

The yarn I used is Cascade 220 Superwash Sport and the color is Wisteria. I bought 12 skeins, but only ended up using a tiny tiny bit of the 9th. Like, all I needed from the 9th skein was a few yards to finish the side seams. I was pretty loose with my ends because I knew I had extra, so if I had been more conservative, I’m sure I could have squeaked it out with just 8 skeins.

Wildflower

The gauge listed for this pattern is very tight for a sport weight yarn (28 stitches to 4 inches.) To get that gauge, my fabric would have been bullet proof. I liked the fabric I got with size 5 needles, so I basically followed the instructions for the 36″ bust knowing that because my gauge was bigger I would end up with about a 40″ bust. It came out pretty much perfect.

When I showed the sweater to Bob he said: “You would think that it would look frumpy, but it doesn’t.” I think that’s a good note to end the post on.

Rose City Yarn Crawl!

Last weekend was the Rose City Yarn Crawl. If you are not lucky enough to live in a city that has a yarn crawl, its much like you’re basic pub crawl. You hop from shop to shop and taste a bit at each one. In Portland, they really go all out. Fifteen shops participated. Each shop offered a free pattern with purchase designed by the shop. The patterns are now available here. Most had trunk shows featuring local dyers, spinners, shawl pin and stitch marker makers, etc. There was a Mystery-knit-along and Mystery-crochet-along leading up to the crawl, and at each shop you could enter to win a prize basket. If you visit all 15 shops during the crawl, you get entered to win the grand prize!

Passports

 

Those are my mother and I’s finished “Passports” proving that we made it to all 15 shops. No prize baskets for either of us, but it was a lot of fun. The crawl is four days long, Thursday – Sunday, but because I was working we did the whole thing over the weekend. In past years there has been even more shops participating, but a few have closed down. Here is the upclose shot if you live in the PDX area and want to see all the shops in the area.

Passport

 

We collected all the free patterns and not a small amount of yarn. I also got a shawl pin, some project bags, stitch markers, and some purchased patterns. I haven’t had the time to take individual photos yet, but here is a photo of the haul all together.

Yarn Crawl

 

I want to cast on something new so badly! I’m still trying really hard to wrap up my lingering WIPs though, so I’m hoping my willpower holds out just a little bit longer. I put a new sweater on the blocking mat this afternoon (I’ll show you next post!) and if I can get two more projects complete I’ll feel good about casting on something new. I’ve been able to take my WIPs from 14 down to 6, and I’m trying really hard not to let it balloon up again. But with this pile of awesome looking up at me, how can I not!

Rock Island Glamour Shots

Two weeks ago I showed you pre- and mid-blocking shots of my Rock Island shawl but it hadn’t dried so I didn’t get to show you any “glamour shots.” Now its off the blocking mats and looking gorgeous.

Rock Island

 

This Jared Flood pattern was first released in April 2011 and I first cast it on in May 2011. Yes, that’s right, it was on the needles for 3 years and 8 months… It’s not that slow it knit, I promise. You knit the lace edge first as a long strip then pick up stitches along a long edge and knit the body of the shawl up to the center back incorporating decreases up the center “spine” and at the edges to form the triangle.

Rock Island

It’s 72 repeats of the edging before you get to pick up the body of the shawl. I knit about 20 and then the shawl sat for quite a while. I finally picked it up and decided to finish November of 2014. It didn’t get continuous attention because it’s intricate lace (patterned on both right and wrong sides) and needed lots of focused attention until getting to the garter stitch body.

Obligatory shawl-on-bush shot

Once I got through the lace and into the garter stitch, this turned into my commuting project and took about 3 weeks of train rides to wrap up. On Ravelry I’ve titled my project “El Diablo” which is what some of the other knitters started lovingly half-lovingly referring to this pattern as. With the lace patterning being executed on both sides a dropped stitch is basically a sanity killer. I used lifelines for every 10 repeats on the edging and had to use them more than once. I used them every 4 rows on the body lace because the rows were so long. Luckily I never had to use one of those.

Rock Island

This is definitely in the running for most difficult pattern I’ve ever completed. This aran sweater might be the only other thing that comes close. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m trying to whittle down my old languishing projects. Putting this one to bed leaves 7 more projects that were cast on pre-2014. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum. Don’t ask about the crochet blanket.

Shawls and Shapes with Veera Välimäki

I don’t know if you follow either Veera Välimäki or Joji Lacotelli on their social media, but if you have been you’ve likely seen updates about their two-stop US tour. #veeraandjojiknitamerica2015 has been blowing up my instagram/twitter for the past week. I was very lucky that Happy Knits in Portland was one of the stops. I was even luckier to snag a spot in one of Veera’s classes: Shawls and Shapes.

Veera class

 

The class was about how to create different shawl shapes, from basic triangles to squares, circles, crescents, Vs, and other asymmetrical shapes.  Then we went over ways to incorporate color, lace, and texture into the various shapes. Of course I left bursting with ideas! As a special treat, the class came with a free download of Veera’s pattern Neon Beast, which I am now dying to cast on.

Veera Class

 

It’s obvious that Veera is really passionate about knitting and designing and it was really fun to get the opportunity to hear about her approach to designing and style. I’m not sure if I will turn my “practice” shawl into something real or rip it back. It was fun to experiment, but I was using leftover balls, so any finished shawl would likely be on the small size. Generally, I prefer to learn on my own at a pace of my choosing, so I don’t often sign up for classes. I’m so glad I did this time. Worth it.

The lace debate

I tend to think of myself as a process knitter. I generally pick projects that I want to make, not necessarily projects that I want to have in the end. The one weird exception to this is lace. I covet finish lace objects. Love the intricate feather-light airiness. I just don’t love knitting it. I know exactly why. Lace looks like this before you block it.

Rock Island

 

That border is very intricate lace. There are no “rest” rows there are yarn overs and decreases on every row. Drop a stitch in that, and you’re screwed. And yet, it looks incredibly unimpressive. There’s just nothing fun about unblocked lace.

Rock Island

 

I love to stop mid-kint and take a look at what I’ve produced every so often, and with lace, it just never looks like you’re producing something worth all the effort you’ve put in. It’s not until you are completely finished and get a chance to aggressively block your project that you finally see the fruit of your work.

Rock Island

 

I don’t like waiting that long to finally see what I’m getting. I mean, blocking improves everything, but lace doesn’t look like anything before it’s blocked. I need more encouragement than that. And yet, I still find myself casting on lace projects. It generally leads to extremely enthusiastic beginnings when I’m all excited by gorgeous pattern pictures and a freshly wound ball of buttery lace yarn. I also get pretty enthusiastic about the end because I can taste the lovely lace I’m about to see bloom into life with a good block. The middle, frankly, is a slog. Every time I think about a new lace project I go through the same internal debate–do I want to start a project I know will feel like a toil through the long middle? Is the FO worth it, when the process is really what I love about knitting. The answer is generally yes. Life is a mystery. But seriously, look at the blocking photo!

Rock Island

 

How’s the progress on the crochet blanket you ask? Shut up.

I should know better

 

I pride myself on possessing a certain amount of self-awareness. However, sometimes I’m forced to come face to face with something that tells me I am not in touch with my own nature at all. Way back in November of 2010 I decided it would be a great idea to start a blanket of crochet squares. Out of Red Heart Super Saver. That’s right, I decided that a long-term, many-small-pieces, lots-of-ends-to-weave-in, lots-of-finishing-to-do project, out of Red Heart, would be a great idea. For the better part of four years, this was the only photo I bothered to take:

Granny Square

 

Every so often I would feel guilty, haul out this project and add another square to my pile. After a square or two, I’d loose attention and it would filter down to the bottom of the basket. I decided to just randomly pick blocks from 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans by Jan Eaton to make a sampler blanket.

 

Blanket

 

I have one skein each of Super Saver in colors Carrot, Coffee, Aruba Sea, and Real Teal. The plan was always to make blocks until the yarn ran out and then use a skein of cream yarn to add a border to all the blocks and piece them together. The problems are many:

1) I hate big projects that are made of little pieces. I know some people feel like each piece is its own little accomplishment, but I find each completed piece to be a nice “stopping point” and it takes a lot of will power to start the next piece rather than a shiny new project.

2) I hate weaving in ends. There will be so so so many ends here.

3) While I don’t hate seaming, it’s certainly not my favorite and there will be a lot of that here too.

 

Blanket

 

Each square is about 16 inches to a side. Right now I have 18 squares. Two more and I could call it quits with a 4×5 block afghan. You have no idea how tempting it is to just crank out two more blocks, finish this sucker, and be done. I know, though, that I would really rather have a blanket that is 4×6. That means I need 6 more blocks, not 2.

Internet, I need you to make me work on this blanket. I’m making it your mission. If I start showing you other lovely things, things without a lot of finishing, things made with natural fibers, I need you to lay on the guilt, thickly. Mock me. Taunt me. Embarrass me. Anything to get me to power through these last agonizing hours of getting this done.

Imagine When… First FO of the Year

 

Technically, this is my first FO of the new year because I cast it off on January 1, 2015. Of course I started it on December 1, 2014 so a considerable amount of the knitting was done “last year.” Still, given the slowness with which projects generally come off my needles, one month is pretty darn good.

 

Imagine When

 

 

This was a extremely fun knit. It is 100% garter stitch with some yarnover rows. The shawl is knit side to side and shaped with short rows. This means that even though it’s “just” garter stitch there still enough going on to keep the knitting fun.

 

Imagine When

 

The pattern is Imagine When… by Joji Locatelli. I have a few of her patterns in my library, but this is the first one I’ve knit. It was clear and easy to follow. I really appreciate it when designers give stitch counts at the end of a section so you can check your work before moving on and Joji does.

 

Imagine When

 

The yarn I used is Knit Picks Stroll Kettle Dyed (sadly discontinued) in the colorway Eggplant.  The Knit Picks headquarters is only about a 45 minute drive away and a few years ago they had a sale where they sold a lot of sample yarn they had hanging around (much of which was already discontinued colorways or yarn lines.) They were selling the yarn BY THE POUND. I managed to get there early and got many full bags of yarn (usually 10 skeins) for pennies on the dollar. This was part of that haul.

 

Imagine When

 

The yarn requirements for the pattern are pretty spot on. I had to use part of a second skein to get through the last few rows. There’s not really an easy way to end early or resize this particular shawl, so definitely make sure you have at least the yardage called for before casting on.  Also, I always forget just how much garter stitch grows during blocking. This came off the needles looking pretty puny, but it grew to about twice the original size after a good soak and stretch.

 

This is the absolute last FO I have to show you. I had such a back log of un-blogged projects that I managed to get by for a really long time only posting nice shiny FOs. No longer. I’m really (really really) trying to eat away at some projects that have been lingering on the needles for years a while and so am hoping I can direct some focused attention that way before an uncontrollable bout of startitis hits.