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Live ~ Laugh ~ Knit

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Going the distance.


Jane liked knitting the cabled afghan she knit as a gift so much that she knit a second- for herself. Remember this is the afghan that she found in a closet and hadn't touched in years.

Her next goal is to knit a sweater coat for one of her daughters.  It was no easy feat finding a pattern and it's been even harder to find the navy color/gauge yarn the pattern requires. While visiting her (in the south) she bought a skein of Baa fingering because it was the exact color her daughter wanted.  Baah yarns didn't have a aran version and she went on a hunt for navy.  Finally she found a yarn in the color she wanted, named navy.  She bought it online. When she received it, it turned out to be royal. So she returned it.  That is the trouble with ordering online; different computer monitors can display colors differently. I applaud her perseverance in going the distance to make this coat exactly the way she envisions it.

Jane said it was good to be back at stitch and chat.  She learned a lot, and not just from knitting. Among the things talked about were the following shows/movies:
Poldark series of books and on PBS
Forsythe saga
Best marigold hotel
Gosford park
Woman in gold

When Cornelia left her CustomFit sweater for the finisher, she learned that she didn't pair decreases properly on one of the sleeves. She stoically ripped back 9" of the errant sleeve. In the past, she had seen me pull the needle out and rip back to the row above the row I needed to return to.

Well, that's exactly what Cornelia did. She pulled needle out and ripped back until 2 rows before desired spot and then pulled stitches out one at a time.  Cornelia was going the distance with this sweater, she reknit the sleeve correctly.

She is almost finished with the back of her Houston top.  She modified the pattern to have a k2p2 ribbing instead of folded hem. The yarn she is using is Rowan Silky Stones (Worsted: 52% Silk, 48% Linen, 109 yards).

Eleanor swatched for her second CustomFit with Kid Paillettes (Lace: 42% Mohair, 40% Polyester, 18% Silk, 136 yards). This sweater will be a Christmas present to herself.  Last year she knit my Manteau Capelet in Artyarns as her Christmas present.  I like Eleanor's style, treat yourself to yummy yarn.

Trammi brought out her swatches for the Apres (Ruched) vest. She's working toward a gauge of 12 sts = 4". She got 14 sts on #10.5 so she will try on #11. For the smaller gauge of 20 sts = 4" on #4 ok she was all set.

She also worked on finishing the sleeves on her CustomFit sweater. The pieces are all done.  She just has to block and sew it.  I'm looking forward to finished knit.  The yarn is Rowan Aran (unfortunately discontinued)

FYI, there is a CustomFit sweater class starting in September at Westport Yarns, click here for the details.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A stranger in a strange land.

Mary finished the first block of her building block afghan and began square two, reading charts.

Michelle brought in a pillow she'd like to knit a cover for (it's the plain pillow top/center).  We talked about a tubular cast on/bind off to give the look of piping around the pillow.  I have to think about it some. In the meantime, she'll knit one side plain and the other side will (possibly) include a decorative edge. By the way, can you spot her dog in the picture?

We measured it, then she swatched. Her yarn color choices are so in sync with her interior design.

The student becomes the teacher as Michelle showed me how she holds her yarn for knitting English style. She was responding to a comment I made that English style knitting is much slower for me.   The way she holds her yarn in her right hand is exactly how I hold my yarn for Continental in my left hand.   I like this way the best, and it is definitely faster than what I was doing.

Michelle picked up the stitches around the neckline of her Customfit sweater. I can't wait to see her wear it.

Linda brought her Etched Rio Wrap poncho, knit with Alpaca Silk (Sport: 50% Silk, 50% Alpaca, 146 yards) in for repair; she was off a stitch in the lace section.  She thought about just adding a stitch, then a little voice (that would be me) said "don't do it".

As often happens when Linda comes to knitting, we had a philosophical conversation. Today it was about doing things outside of your routine or comfort zone.

Linda related how when she temporarily moved to DC for a few months, she had to focus on where she was going (and what she was doing) because she was a stranger in a strange land.  When we drive our normal pathways, we are driving almost by autopilot.  Her story reminded me of when my kids were in 3 different schools all on the same street.  I can't tell you how many times, when driving them to school, I would drive past one of their schools. I can still hear them say, "Mom, you just drove past my school". I would get into the zone.

It's (obviously) not a good thing.  Whether knitting differently or driving in a new place, it forces you to be more alert versus being mechanical in your actions.  Trying new things like this is a way to cross train your brain. It is also a humbling experience to not know how to do something.  We've come to a time when we all expect to be perfect the first time.  It's good for us to learn/do something from scratch.

I'd love to know what kind of experience you've had in this regard.

Book recommendations from Mary: Keeper of the Light and Necessary Lies.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tuesday's Stitch and Chat

Calann's granddaughters wanted cowls just like her Fallen Halo.  We adjusted the cast on for the girls who are 4 and 7.  She is also knitting one for her daughter.  Can you guess what color belongs to who? Let's just say I bonded with the four year old over color choices. ;)

She will be using the same yarn the pattern calls for, Artyarns Cashmere 5 (Aran: 100% Cashmere, 102 yards) and Artyarns Cashmere Glitter (DK: 100% Cashmere plied w/ metallic, 170 yards).
Her grandson wanted a different cowl so we did a Ravelry search and found the Snowbunny Hat, Cowl & Mitts. She'll be knitting it in Cascade 220 Superwash Sport (DK/Sport: 100% Superwash Wool, 136 yards). Calann had to knit a mock circular gauge for the cowl.

Just as we thought, Eleanor is knitting the second sleeve of her her Textures Cardigan in Tahki Rosa (Aran: 100% Cotton, 93 yards).  There is a very good chance she'll be wearing this next week. (No pressure, Eleanor.)

Cornelia finished the pieces of her Customfit and got it ready for the finisher.  I am so proud of her, this is the third sweater she has completed this year.

We discussed several books we really enjoyed:
From Eleanor: Red Tails in Love and Maisie Dobbs 
From Me: Chasing Fireflies and In the Unlikely Event

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Knitters Day Off

 Saturday was a gorgeous summer day. Happily I had the day off.

I started out with a cup of tea to wake the brain, followed by some necessary household duties.  I have timed it and the amount of time it takes to steep a cup of tea equals the time it takes to empty the dishwasher.

Relatively alert I head outside.  We have a birds nest on top of a speaker on our deck.  It is inhabited by two baby birds (picture taken with a selfie stick).  The momma bird gets very disgruntled every time we go outside and leaves the nest.  This morning I caught her and the poppa on a tree limb opposite the deck.  She was highly animated and I could imagine what she was saying:


momma: "You've got to do something about those giants" (Major wing flapping and chirping).)
popppa: "Just ignore them, you are being dramatic"
momma: (more wing flapping and chirping)
poppa: (exit stage left)

One row also equals the time it takes to steep my second cup of tea. Fully caffeinated and having gotten the bird conversation out of my head I settled into Big Damn HeroesIn the morning I like to knit things that are  too complicated to work on with people around.

Which is why as soon as I picked up the needles I got Face Timed by one of my kids. We talked for over an hour. That's longer than I think we've talked in consecutive minutes since she got home. Go figure. There's meaning in there somewhere.  At any rate, I had to put down the lace knitting and get something I can knit and talk with.

Otto the Polar Bear is a great pattern. I've knit this 3 times already. Now I'm knitting a sample for the store, it will ultimately be a class. The yarn is Plymouth Select Superwash Merino (Worsted: 100% Merino, 218 yards).  It took less than one skein.  This is going to be my "go to" gift in the future.

While on the phone, she reminded me that she wanted me to knit her a sock monkey.  I think this was somehow influenced by Otto.  Using Ravelry and Face-time (talk about juggling electronics) we narrowed down what she wanted.  

Harry kept a close paw on a new toy. He took this very seriously.

During the day, I finished Otto, bailed on Big Damn Heroes (for the day), and worked on a new cardigan pattern I'm designing.

We ended the day with take out at the beach.  I think half the town was there. Truly a well spent day off.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Don't fly in the face of the Knitting Gods

The gauge play continues. 

I just finished knitting the Bandana Cowl in Malabrigo Worsted (Aran: 100% Merino, 210 yards).  The pattern called for a #10 needle.  Since I've been knitting closer to gauge when I knit English style, I decided to (uncharacteristically) cast on without knitting a gauge swatch.  I know, I've shocked you, haven't I?

When I finished, the cowl felt a little small.  Not much, a little.  I measured the gauge and found that I was knitting at 4.5 sts/1" versus the gauge of 4 sts/1".  What irony, if when I knit English I might need to go up a needle size.  The Knitting Gods have a sick sense of humor.

I also only used half a skein to knit the Bandana cowl.  If you're looking for a quick knit with aran/bulky yarn, this is a good one. As I'm reading this, and linking to the pattern and all that happy stuff, I realized that I didn't knit the beginning border in garter (as written). I wondered why it rolled in and was figuring ways to fix it.

Big sigh.  Well, I think the Knitting Gods have made their point.  When you skip the gauge swatch you roll knitting roulette. So, as I write this post it becomes clear that I'm going to rip it out and knit it over again with the following adjustments: #10.5 needle and garter border (as written).  Selective reading strikes again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Name that yarn

After finishing her first sleeve, Cornelia looked it over and saw exactly where she had changed skeins.  Since Malabrigo Worsted is a hand-dyed yarn there can variations within the same dyelot.  Sometimes people are really thrown off by this.  Cornelia embraced the hand dyed effect. She said it's part of the appeal of the hand dyed yarns, their artistic quality. She's got a point.

Cornelia started the second sleeve and was stumped by the make one left purlwise. The make one right purlwise she had down. The angle and awkwardness of the make one left purlwise was getting the best of her.  After a few tries she did get the hang of it. Kudos for perseverance.

She's very excited about finishing the second sleeve. That means she's one step closer to sending it off to the finisher to be blocked and sewn.  Since she has several sweaters in the queue, she decided to have her knit the neckline as well.

Eleanor had finished the back and was well into the one front of her Textures Cardigan in Tahki Rosa (Aran: 100% Cotton, 93 yards).  It's quick knitting. She really wants to wear it this summer.  I figure at this rate she'll be done in approximately 2 weeks.

She told us she sorted through her stash and brought in these skeins to see if I knew what they were.  I don't know if it's good or scary that I actually could name them all.

From left to right: the first three balls are Malabrigo Worsted, the middle skein is Malabrigo Rios, next is Plymouth Mushishi, then Madelinetosh DK, and finally on the far right, Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. What can I say?

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Yardage Variable

 © Carina Spencer

I've had Scalene on my radar ever since it came out.  One thing that made it really appealing is that the designer, Carina Spencer, features pictures of the different ways it can be worn.  This is really useful to someone like me who falls short in the "how to wear it" department. The pattern is very well written.

Last year at Rhinebeck Scalene was on my list of projects to shop for.  You can knit it with or without strips. You need two colors: one with approximately 400 yards and one with approximately 200 yards. My sister decided she would make it too.

We found 1 skein of purple that we both wanted. Where is King Solomon when you need him?  Being civilized and (relatively) adult women, we decided that we would split this skein of purple and it would be our secondary color.

Initially I had a lovely skein of teal yarn that I was going to use with it.  Nancy vetoed it for not having enough contrast.  Apparently she can be the boss of me because I listened.

Scalene moved to the back burner since I didn't have the second color.  Recently we got tosh sock (Fingering: 100% Merino, 395 yards) in at Westport Yarns.  There was a lovely grey that would work.

I really liked the striped version. However, I knew I might be slightly light on yardage for that.  I had a nagging feeling in my mind.

That feeling manifested itself when I neared the end of my project and knew I was going to be short on the purple.  Well, I figured that's ok, I must have lots of purple leftovers that could substitute.

Not ONE of them was a perfect match.  Seriously?  It's one stripe, the other yarn was hand-dyed with variations.  No one will ever (really) notice.

I phoned my sister:
Me: Are you still working on Scalene?
Nancy: Yes, I'm nearly done.
Me: Which version did you knit? Stripes or No Stripes.
Nancy: No stripes, you told me we didn't have enough yarn for stripes (apparently sometimes I am the boss of her).
Me: Ohhhh, well, I was right. Hence nagging feeling.

Finished, before blocking my measurements were 54" across the longest part, and 16" down the center.  I went merrily along soaking it to block.

It blocked out to 66" across the longest part and kept the 16" down the center.  Note to self, compare pre-blocked measurements before blocking: 50"/15".

A couple of things became clear:
1. I didn't have to block it.
2. My gauge was larger than the pattern.
3. Just because a pattern is "easy" doesn't mean I don't have to pay close attention to the fine print.

Ah, I continue to live and learn at the hand of my own mistakes.  I tossed it in the dryer when it was damp. This brought it back to 58"/15.5".  It'll be fine.  It's a scarf and I do love how it came out.

Footnote: Nancy is ready to knit the part that sits above the slit.  She's not confident in her yardage and is going to stripe the last section.  I have to admit, I'm a little jealous.  I think it will look really cool that way: solid purple, solid gray, striped purple/gray.