Resistance is… Essential

I was not able to attend the Woman’s March on Washington (Portland edition) because I was lending support to someone going through some family health issues. All day my facebook feed was packed with photos from friends around the country at various marches. Plus there were photos all over the news of huge crowds around the country. It was very powerful and reassuring to see so many women gather and raise their voices. And of course, as a knitter, the prominence of the Pussy Hat as a symbol for the March made my heart happy.

 

The idea of thousands of knitters clicking away counting down the days until the revolution is so very Madame Defarge, I can’t help but want to overthrow the patriarchy. I’ve had this skein of Madelinetosh A.S.A.P. in my stash for about 2 years… basically since it first came out. When I placed my order, this skein of the color “Coquette” was one of the few left in stock. I never really had a plan for it, but as soon as I saw a post about the Pussy Hat, I knew I had the perfect skein.

There are a number of different patterns for Pussy Hats on Ravelry. The particular one I chose was Brooklyn Purl Alley Cat Hat by Claudette Brady. The pattern is free on Ravelry. My one slight critique is that the pattern uses “left twisted stitch” and “right twisted stitch” without explaining them. For the left twisted stitch, you just knit into the back of the second stitch on the left needle, then knit into the front of the first stitch on the left needle and take both the first and second stitches off the left needle together. The right twisted stitch is even easier. You knit into the second stitch on the left need, then into the first stitch on the left needle, then take both stitches off the left needle together.

I really like the way the twisted stitches paired with the purls were used to set off the “ears” of the hat. The super bulky yarn really lets the ears stand up a little bit too. And the coquette is the perfect shade of aggressive pink. Viva la revolución!

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Persephone

Every knitter had those meh projects. Projects you work and work on, and when you finish you look down and just think… eh… not for me. Persephone was that way for me. I taught a class last March about cables and this was the featured project. The original is a scarf, but I got so tired of the cables after about two feet that I turned mine into a a cowl with buttons.


I should have known I was never going to be able to finish a whole scarf in this pattern. 1) I dislike knitting scarves in general because they feel like never-ending swatches. 2) I dislike scarf patters that are not reversible because I am anal and the fact that the “wrong” side shows drives me bonkers. 3) I dislike heavily cabled projects because they make my hands crampy when I knit them. 4) This pattern is not charted, it is only written, and I strongly prefer to  All of these things and problems related to my personal knitting preferences, not problems with the pattern.
 I didn’t write down my modifications, but they were dead easy. Basically I stopped knitting the body after 2 feet or so and then in the final garter stitch portion I threw in a row with 3 evenly spaced button holes, then finished the garter stitch portion. Then I played around with the best placement for the buttons and decided I liked the “folded over” look. I sewed on the buttons and ta-da.
The yarn is Madelinetosh DK (I know, you’re not surprised) in Moorland. It blocks out in cables amazingly! Their plied yarns are not the softest (except for Pashmina) but they have amazing stitch definition and they are plied nice and tight so they wear forever without looking ratty the way that some yarns get after a while. Basically the yarn was fantastic, but I still feel meh about the finished project.

Oh Hai

Ah hem hem… So hey… How’s it going? Been a while… Almost a year you say? My how time flies. I feel like I should say I’m sorry, but really I’m not. The last year has brought a lot of changes to my life. I don’t even think I mentioned it in my last post, but when I wrote it (February of 2013, I know…) I had just gotten my first job as an attorney 5 days before the post. I was commuting a long way to work every day and felt just exhausted by the end of the day. It’s hard to even imagine, but really I stopped knitting from pretty much February through July. Dark days.

Ryan and I stopped being a couple in May, and that was sad. In July I moved closer to work. Sadly, closer to work meant further from a lot of other things, including my knitting group. While I had my suspicions early on, by July I was feeling like my job was not a great fit for me (that’s the extremely reserved, internet appropriate, way to describe how I was feeling anyway…) By late October I decided a new job needed to be at the top of my priority list and by the end of November I had an offer on the table. Mid-December I started my new job (still attorney work, just a much different office atmosphere) and it’s been fabulous so far.

The new job came with the caveat that I would have to take the Washington state Bar exam. Portland being so close to Washington, my new office does a lot of work in both states so I need to be dual licensed. If you’re thinking now that my miraculous return to blogging may have something to do with procrastinating studying for a test that is one month away… Shut up.

Look. Knitting.


That is the extremely popular Selbu Modern hat by Kate Gagnon Osborne. It is available for free on Ravelry. I had wanted to make it for a very long time. When I started teaching a series of hat classes at my LYS focusing on different techniques, I chose this hat as the colorwork-focused class project.
The yarn I used was Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace and Clematis. Antique Lace has got to be one of my favorite Madelinetosh colors. It’s sort of a boring neutral, but something about it is so enticing to me. Of course, I love pretty much everything Madelinetosh so maybe it’s not very surprising that this was so enjoyable for me. Even being knit on tiny needles (US 0 and US 2) this was a very fast knit for me.
Sadly, that hat was knit last January, and I’m just now getting around to showing it to you. It’s kept me nice and warm for two winters now and it’s the hat I grab above my others if I can find it… I am not high-functioning in the morning, so it’s good I have so many hats–there’s usually one that’s within grabbing range as I’m leaving the house. On the other hand, it’s probably good I have a few projects back-logged, since it will give me things to show you on a semi-regular basis as I get back into my knitting groove. Feels good to be back.

Lucy

Were you bitten by the Lucy bug? When the Winter 2012 issue of Knitscene magazine came out this year everyone I know went absolutely gaga over the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer. We had people calling the shop for months to order the two colors of Madelinetosh Vintage that the hat is pictured in. I succumbed and knit one straight away.

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Pretty darn cute eh? A few notes about the pattern. I knit the small size and it fits the circumference of my 21″ head perfectly. However, for the small size the pattern says to knit until it is 5″ deep. I found this to be too shallow. I think 5.5″ is much better since I like hats that cover my ears, not brush the top of them.
Also, the directions for the short rows are written confusingly. The patterns says “Knit to two stitches past the last wrapped stitch, wrap the next stitch.” The designer has since made it clear that when she says “Knit to two stitches past” she doesn’t intend you to knit the second stitch, you are just knitting up to it. This means you are wrapping the second stitch after your last wrapped stitch. Many people misunderstood and wrapped the third stitch. (The designer’s clarification on this point was really snarky. It totally had the tone of “If you were stupid enough to misunderstand, I’ll spell it out for you.” That pretty much ensures I’ll never pay for one of her individually downloadable patterns.)
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I knit this one out of the new and absolutely luscious Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted. It’s 75% merino, 15% silk, and 10% cashmere. Because of the silk and cashmere it takes the dye a bit more muted than their pure merino lines. I used the colorway Hickory for the body of the hat and Betty Drapper’s Blues for the band.
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This one was knit up as a sample for For Yarn’s Sake to show off the pattern and the new yarn line. At least once a day someone takes it off the shelf and asks about the pattern or the yarn. Can you blame them? A hat this cute is pretty eye-catching.
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Douglas Mittens

When it comes to knitting I have a serious “Ooooo Shiny” problem. By which I mean I a easily distracted from my current projects by the newest coolest thing leading me to drop everything currently in progress to start something new.

Such was the fate of my Douglass Mittens by emilyelizabeth. I cast them on in March when I had a strong urge for some color work. Then something (I’m not sure what) distracted me for about 5 months. When I finally got back to them, they only took about 2 weeks to finish. I have no idea why I abandon things that are so close to completion. (See the above mentioned “oooo shiny” problem.) Have a look.

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I love them! I knit them in an aran weight yarn on size 5 needles as called for in the pattern and they came out too big for me. (This is not surprising because I have VERY small hands.) They fit my mother perfectly and she has already claimed them as her birthday present this December.
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The pattern is well written and easy to follow. It even comes with directions for how to knit a lining for your mittens. I think in theory linings are a great idea because they protect your colorwork strands from getting pulled and allow you to knit the colorwork in a “hearty” yarn like a traditional shetland but still have super soft comfy mittens by picking a soft yarn for the lining. That being said, I didn’t do the lining. It’s just not cold enough in Oregon to need mittens that warm.
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I used Madeline Tosh Vintage 100% Superwash Merino in colorways Antique Lace and Cloak. Even though the yarn is merino, it’s spun very tightly, so it shouldn’t have the problems with fuzzing and pilling that many merino yarns have. I have yet to meet a Madeline Tosh yarn that I didn’t love, and this is no exception.
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I find colorwork to be very addicting, and easily get into the “just one more row” mindset. In fact, I think I will cast on another pair of mittens this week. More on that later.

Mystery revealed

OK, so I’m certainly not the first person to reveal this particular mystery, but I managed to finish up my Stephen West Mystery Knit-a-long from this year: Rockefeller.

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For those of you not familiar with mystery knit-a-longs, the concept is that you sign up not knowing what the pattern is, then over several weeks, the designer releases “clues” until you finally have the whole pattern. Yes, you could wait for all the clues to come out and see if you like the full pattern, but that’s not really in the spirit of the mystery.
I jumped right in with yarn and needles the day clue 1 was released. Clue 1 was the band of collar meant to sit at the back of the neck. Clue 2 was the more solid light green section that was picked up and worked down from the collar. Clue 3 was the slipped stitch edging around the circumference of the semicircle. Clue 4 were the garter stitch wings that grow out of the ends of the semicircle. I loved watching the clues come together.
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This is my preferred way to wear this shawl: collar sitting at the back of the neck, wings crossed over the chest and tied in the back. Because this shawl is so large I think that this way shows of the design the best while still letting me move around without getting in the way.
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It also really shows off the pattern on the back which I think of as the highlight of the piece. Generally I prefer to wear shawls more in the kerchief style with the bulk in the front and the wings wrapped behind me. As you can see, this shaw is just way to big to do that with.
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My one serious complaint with this shawl is that the yards requirements specified on the pattern are WAY low. I found that the estimate for color A was about 40 yards too low and the estimate for color B was a whopping 90 yards too low.
This led to me running out of both yarns. For my color A I used Tosh Merino Light in the colorway Brother’s Grimm. It was easy to pop by the yarn shop and pick up a second skein. For my color B however, I used Wollmeise 80/20 Tiwn in the colorway Grunfink. I knew it would be impossible to get another skein so I had to make due. I managed to find a close color match in a skein of Abstract Fiber O’Keefe yarn in the colorway chartreuse. I knew if I just changed colors after running out of the grunfink the change would be obvious, so I ripped my first wing back to the beginning and began striping every other “B” colored stipe between the lighter O’Keefe and the darker 80/20 Twin. This is really obvious in the first photo.
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Now that I’m done with it, I’m in love but there was some serious cursing each time I ran out of yarn. I would also like to point out just for the record that this is the first of Stephen’s patterns that I’ve come across with this problem. Usually I have no trouble completing his patterns with the yardage he recommends. Just be warned if you decide to start this one. Buy extra yarn!

Yarn Crawl part 2

Yesterday I covered the first 6 stops on my adventure participating in the Portland Yarn Crawl, today you get to hear about the last 6. This should be a shorter post since as the day went on I had to move faster through the shops… believe it or not there is such a thing as wool-overload and by the end of the day I definitely had it.

Stop 7: Make One in Milwaukie, OR (yes Wisconsinite friends out here they spell it with ie instead of ee, it drove me nuts the whole first year I was here.) The yarn selection here was extremely picked over by the time I got here (around 3:00) I don’t know how the managed to get through the whole weekend unless they were rationing their stock.

Make One does happen to be one of the stores that was chosen by Knit Picks to carry the Knit Picks needles–apparently KP is testing out having their needles carried by LYSs. This is awesome! I often feel like I want more cables or a certain needle tip size but don’t want to pay for shipping on such a small order. I got nickle-plated tips in size 7 and 8 and more 24″ cords. I also picked up the KP needle sizer. No pictures of those, go to the KP site if you really need to see what their needles look like. (I am not responsible for any money you spend if you click that link.)

Stop 8: Pico Accuardi Dye Works. This isn’t actually a shop in the strictest sense. It’s the studio where two local dyers create amazing hand-dyed yarn and roving which they sell on consignment through other local shops. For the crawl they opened up the studio (and offered 20% off everything purchased there) for knitters to come see their workspace. I bought this roving.

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It had no label (that freshly dyed!) so I can’t tell you what it’s officially called. I’ve been calling in Blueberry because that’s what it reminds me of. It’s 4 oz. of 100% Blue Faced Leicester roving. It’s so fluffy! Sometimes roving comes all squished down and dense from the dying process that you have to fluff it up and pre-draft a bit before it’s easy to spin. This feels like I can pop it on the wheel and begin.

Stop 9: Knit/Purl. I don’t love Knit Purl. They carry some good lines (they have the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter!) but it’s in the Pearl District (which is sort of a fancy boutique-y neighborhood near downtown Portland) and I usually feel like my smaller purchases are frowned on–like I should always be buying $100s in yarn. Really, I would if I could, but you don’t need to ask me “Is this all for today?” while looking down your nose at my single skein of sock yarn, then rolling your eyes when I say yes. It’s a yarn crawl for goodness sake! I went to twelve shops! How much do you want me to spend in your shop before you are nice to me?! Here’s the offending single skein.

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It’s Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorway Grove. It’s that scummy yellow-green-brown that I seem to have been obsessed with on Friday. Lest you think I’m nuts, this one is more green, the Smooshy from yesterday is more yellow and the Eco + from yesterday doesn’t have the “scum” quality… that makes them all completely different.

(You might be thinking: Why if you know you don’t like Knit/Purl and they have *&^$%# customer service, did you go there and spend money? The raffle baskets that’s why. I wanted my shot at a giant basket stuffed full of yarn-y goodness. As for why I spent the money, it IS a yarn store. When you walk in it’s full of yarn. The desire to have the yarn competes mightily with the desire to shun the business. It’s hard for me to feel bitter around that much wool. It’s only after leaving the shop that the rudeness hits me and I realize that, while it is full of yarn, I don’t like those people and can get equally good yarn elsewhere. I figure I won’t be back till next year’s yarn crawl so it’s not like I’m the one keeping them open.)

Stop 10: Urban Fiber Arts. This is the only shop (that I’ve found) with a truly GOOD selection of spinning materials. They also carry yarn–really nice yarn–but I love them for the spinning selection. I got some fiber. This is the last of my fiber purchases from the day. I spin even more slowly than I knit so this should hold me for quite a while.

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This is Black Trillium Fibre Studio Blue Faced Leicester Roving. The colorway is called Emerald City. If you know of my obsession with the Wizard of Oz, you know that once I saw the name of the color I could not resist it. I’ve never actually spun with BFL (though my collection is growing) I basically went from Targhee to a Merino/Silk blend and a Merino/Yak blend. It will be interesting trying to go back to a long-staple fiber.

Stop 11: Dublin Bay Knitting Company. This store has a lot of luscious fibers and lots of good crisp rustic wool that makes you feel like you should be knitting ski sweaters or a gansey. It’s not the most budget friendly shop though, you’re pretty much looking at laying down over $100 for a bigger project (there is NOTHING wrong with this, I would do it all the time if I could, I just can’t… pout.) I did manage to find these though:

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That’s Frog Tree Merino Worsted. The first one is colorway Charcoal, the second is Teddy. This is a single-ply merino. I’m thinking it will make good hats (I have a man who loves beanies) or fingerless mitts for me. Most of my yarn tends to be very colorful so adding some neutrals to the mix is a good thing.

Stop 12: For Yarn’s Sake. I love this shop. I go here all the time. It’s dangerous that it is literally right down the road from me. The customer services was a bit dodgy at first (I think I get more bad service than most people because I am young and sometimes wear a big hoop nose ring… maybe some people think that makes me look unknitterly… I think this is Portland and I look way more conservative that many local crafters. The shop is in Beaverton though, so maybe they don’t get the full brunt of the eclectic Portland crowd.) Now that I’ve been going there for quite a while they know me and are great. They always check in on what I’m working on, ask me what I’m planning, and remember what I said I was working on the last time I was there.

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This is Nashua’s Best Foot Forward sock yarn. The color is called summer sunset. It’s from the color line designed by Kristin Nicholas. It looks nice and fallish, totally appropriate for knit socks. I showed Ryan and he said “ew” and threw the ball. I think you have to have a certain personality type to like pea green.

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This bit of magic is Fleece Artists Peter Rabbit in colorway Ivory. It’s exactly as fluffy and amazing and squishably soft as it looks. I made the fatal mistake of brushing past this on my way to the sock yarn and as soon as it touched my bare arm it was over. I picked it up and didn’t put it down. I had a hard time handing it over so that it could be rung up… what if the sales lady felt it and decided not to give it back? She did. Now it’s mine and I have to puzzle over just the right project for it. It has to be perfect.

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The best for last. (It was really hard to decide if this beat the Peter Rabbit, but I think it does by the tiniest photo-finish-type margin.) This is String Theory Caper Sock in color Tavikki. I just finished my Damson (I will blog it soon) out of this yarn in a different colorway. This yarn is amazing to work with. It has amazing stitch definition. It’s sproingy and wonderful in that way that only wool is. It’s super soft from the merino/cashmere. The colors are so rich and deep. It smells good. It blocks amazingly. In shawl-form it drapes amazingly.

I would compose a love letter to this yarn if I wasn’t afraid someone would have me locked up. (Also, it might start some insane conservative vitriol about how if we go around allowing gay marriage, the next thing you know, crazies in Portland will be demanding to marry their yarn and we don’t want to start down such a slippery slope… I am related to many of these whacked people, I know how they reason. Better not to give them any ammunition.)