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.

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.

Dustland for Christmas and 2014 Review

I really only knit one gift for Christmas 2014 and it wasn’t that involved at all. That’s really the case for most of my 2014 knitting. I only completed 13 projects for the year,  and 8 of those had been on the needs from 2013 or earlier. It was a slog of a year, but I managed to squeak this last project in just before the year end.

 

Dustland

 

 

 

I’d been wanting to make Stephen West’s Dustland since Book 2 originally came out. When thinking about what I could whip up for Bob for Christmas, this hat popped into my mind. Two days later, I had a hat.

 

I used Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Cypress. I made the large size, which, in hindsight is was probably overkill. It’s quite big. I used the full skein of yarn and actually ran out before the last 5 rows were finished. I had to use a little gray yarn to finish because I didn’t have any matching green. You can see the little gray patch in this photo.

 

Dustland

 

 

These a very well lit photos, but in most indoor light the hat looks almost black, so the gray is not really distinct most of the time. The changing textures make the knitting go by so fast since you don’t have time to get board with pattern before it changes to something else.

 

Dustland

 

 

And so ends 2014. I must admit, it was not the best year. Life challenges. Career challenges. Health challenges. Nothing devastating, just relentless. Setting goals and resolutions for 2015 feels like a surefire way to feeling disappointed in myself. Instead this year needs to be about focusing on the process. Anxiety has even been spilling over into my knitting when I think about all the yarn I have, all the patterns I want to make, and how slowly projects have been coming off the needles lately. I need to get back in touch with how much I love the process of knitting and love my yarn. Finishing is not my 2015 goal.

My Socks, they are crooked!

Did you have a yarn-y holiday? This year I got a lot of “home” oriented presents but not very much in the way of yarn. For Christmas I didn’t get anything yarn related at all. My birthday is tomorrow, but I celebrated with my family tonight. I got a new ball winder (mine was doing the click of death) and a few skeins off my Knit Picks wish list from my mom and dad, and a gift card to an LYS from my brother. Also, I may have treated myself to the ChiaoGoo full interchangeable needle set on Black Friday, so it’s been a good (or bad) winter for the stash indeed.

In addition to the yarn and notion goodness, I’ve been keeping my toes toasty this winter with a new pair of socks! I finally finished my Skew socks that I started back in September of 2012.

Skew

 

Originally, I started these because the LYS I was knitting at had a “sock hour” just before the general knit chat and if you came for sock hour you had a better seat for the rest of the night. I was working on the for about an hour a week at most.

Skew

Since I’ve been trying to knit down my over-abundant number of WIPs, I’ve been dedicating my train commute to my oldest projects and (shocker) spending an hour+ per day, five days a week, is really helping to knock things off the needles.

This pattern is knit on the bias, hence the “skew” that makes the socks look like they have diagonal stripes. The directions are nothing like traditional socks, but I just followed them blindly and everything worked out great. They are worked toe-up, but the heel is grafted, so if you absolutely hate to kitchner, this is not the pattern for you.

Skew

The yarn I used is Canon Hand Dyes Jane Self-Striping MCN (a mouthful, I know.) The colorway is called Loves Labor Lost. Colorways named after Shakespeare just make my literature-nerd heart sing. It’s 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. Heavenly soft, I tell you. Heavenly.

Skew

I have basically been living in these for the whole month of December. From the extended wear there are a few things I can tell you. The yarn does pill, but not insanely. Most very soft fibers  are going to pill, so I’m not going to be upset about it, but now I know and so do you. I use a sweater stone to remove pills from all my knitting and it’s super fast and easy so pilling really doesn’t bother me unless it’s extreme. Another thing I can tell you after a month of near non-stop wear is that this yarn is nice and sturdy. There has been no signs of wearing or weak spots whatsoever. I’m hopeful they’ll have a good long life. Lastly, these have been washed quite a few times back to back and the colors do not bleed. I was worried with the black dye that it might bleed into the pink but there is almost no discoloration to the wash water at all. Maybe a tiny bit with the first was, but nothing since then. I need more of this yarn.

Skew

A note about the pattern. I knit it as written and I was on gauge. They fit me great, but I have a US 7 narrow foot. If you have a larger foot you may need to recalculate the width and length to get a good fit. Given the bias pattern that means more than just knitting a few extra rows. Overall, these were fun to make and the yarn has made them luxurious to wear, but I think I will go back to a traditional sock construction for my next pair.

FO: Color Craving shawl

 

 

As with most knitting things in 2013/2014 I got behind on my Color Craving by Stephen West. This was his Mystery KAL for 2013 and I cast on immediately when the first clue was released in September. Then it sat unworked for months and months.

 

One of the main reasons it sat was because my center “holes” got off alignment and I was lazy about doing the repair. I think it’s sort of understandable given what the repair took.

 

color craving

Of course I didn’t notice my error until I was about 15 rows beyond it. So my dilemma was rip back 15 rows (100s of stitches per row) or tear out just the point of the shawl and re-knit it. I eventually opted for the latter and “dropped” the stitches down to the misplaced yarn overs and then knit those stitches back up to the row I was on when I discovered the error.

color craving

 

Ta Da! This became my public transit project for a month or so and I managed to get it finished. Given the size, it may seem like a poor choice for train knitting, but it scrunches up pretty small while it’s on the needles and the rows are garter stitch so there’s nothing that needs too much attention.

color craving

A lot of people expressed disappointment at this pattern as the clues were released because it’s pretty unconventional, but I feel like if you sign up for a mystery knit a long, complaining that you don’t like the pattern is pretty silly. Especially when Stephen West is known for being more “off the wall” than many popular designers.

color craving

I used MadelineTosh Tosh Sock for my shawl. The lightest color is Antique Lace, which is a perfect neutral cream. The dark brown is Whiskey Barrel and it an extremely rich mix of browns, tans, and a tiny tiny hint of blue. The red is Byzantine, and like Whiskey Barrel its so much more than the dominant color when you look close it has flecks of maroon, pink, purple, it’s just so rich! I know I’ve said it a million times, but MadelineTosh is definitely my favorite dyer.

color craving

Even though the pattern is not a conventional shape, it can definitely be worn wrapped around my neck like a plain scarf so it fits really well into my not-super-flamboyant wardrobe.

color craving

As you may have noticed, things are still under construction around here. There are more changes yet to come, but the holidays have me a little scattered. Look for more improvements after the first of the year. Also, all my knitting currently is all gifts for people who know about both my Ravelry account and this blog, so I’m keeping quite about my current projects until after the holidays. I’ve still got a few other things to tell you about between now and then.

Welcome to my new home!

So, how do you like the new digs? Please forgive any mess as I’m absolutely not at all sure of what I’m doing. I was sitting at home thinking… I’ve never really loved the way my blogger blog looked or functioned, so I messaged my best friend who just happens to be a computer wizard (minus the pointy hat with stars on it, but plus html skills.) About 25 minutes and $15 later all that you see before you was mine. (Really just the domaine name, the building of the site took significantly longer.)

If you’re a feed reader type of blog reader (the only way to keep up with so many awesome knitting blogs) I’d love it if you’d update your reader with the new info here so you don’t miss any posts. (See how I pretend I have readers… fake it till you make it baby.)
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll talk about what you are here for: the knitting. To go with the launch of the new blog I have for you…. Some very easy leg warmers. I would have loved to have something super impressive, but not today.
Leg Warmers
These little babies were requested specifically by my 88 year old grandma. She’s 5’0″ which is why they look a little short on my legs. She wanted something to wear around the house because she is always cold. Here requirements were soft, thick, machine washable, and not “too fancy.”
I think I did a good job keeping the fancy to a minimum. The pattern is of my own devising, but its so terribly simple I can’t justify calling it a “pattern” and writing it up. Still want it? Ok. Get some chunky wool (180 yards or so) and a US 10 16″ circular needle. Cast on 48 sts. Join in the round. K2 P2 endlessly around until they are as tall as you want. Bind off.
The yarn is cheap Patons Shetland Chunky. It is 75% Acrylic and 25% wool making it fit the “machine washable” and “thick” criteria. The acrylic they use is higher quality than many and the yarn is spun more loosely than most pure acrylics are so it’s reasonably soft as well.  Also, it didn’t squeak on the needles which is good because I didn’t have to claw my eyes out working with it.
I’m almost entirely out of projects with good photos to show you… I know. Yes. I do call that a “good” photo. Baby steps. Bear with me as things (hopefully) improve even more around here.