Thursday, October 17, 2019

Pattern Release: Public Works Pullover

One of the designer groups on Ravelry that I'm involved in is the Budding Designers group, and every year for the past several years we've had a thread in which we post our design goals for the year and then periodically check in. For 2019, I had two goals: Release 13 new patterns (which would get my portfolio to the magic number of 100 designs) and, as part of those 13, release a yoked colorwork sweater pattern. While I'm not quite at 100 designs for the year just yet, I am super excited about the new pattern I have to share with you today.

As you probably already know, I do a lot of walking. Partially it's because I hate to drive, but where we live it's actually easier and cheaper to walk many places than it is to drive and try to park. Because I walk many of the same places every day, the walk can get a bit boring, so I'm always on the lookout for interesting things, and some months ago I noticed that there are some manhole covers along my route to work that are really beautiful. They say that inspiration can strike at any time, and I suppose there are stranger things to inspire a sweater than manhole covers!

I've been working on this pattern for several months now and am completely delighted with how it turned out. I've abstracted the metalwork that first inspired me into repeating geometric motifs that appear in the yoke, at the bottom of the body, and at the wrists. My goal was to create a sweater that was comfy, like an well-worn sweatshirt, and I think I've achieved that. The body is straight (though you can add waist shaping if you like), and the sleeves are fitted but not tight. I can comfortably wear a layer under this sweater and still feel like I have room to move.

The yarn I used for the sample is pretty special. This is naturally colored Shetland from the Ross Farm -- the lighter color is from a sheep named Marigold and the darker from a sheep named Lindy. These farmers (who I'm also happy to call friends) specialize in rare and heritage breeds, and all their yarns are undyed, minimally processed, and breed specific -- and my favorite thing is that each skein of yarn comes with a photo on the sheep who grew the fleece on the label! Their Shetland yarn is one of my absolutely favorites to knit with. It's the softest Shetland I've ever felt, for one thing, but because it's minimally processed, it also still has a little bit of lanolin in it and smells delightfully sheepy. The three-ply Shetland yarn used to be labeled sport weight, but I noticed when I was adding the pattern to Ravelry that it's now listed as a DK, and it certainly knits up well at a DK gauge, so I've recommended a DK or at least a heavy sport in the pattern.

I've tried to make the sizing on this sweater as inclusive as possible, so the 11 finished sizes range from 30.5 in./76.5 cm up to 59 in./147.5 cm, with 2-4 in./5-10 cm recommended ease. (For reference, I'm wearing a size 37 in./92.5 cm finished size with roughly 2 in./5 cm ease.) There are optional short rows to raise the back of the sweater, and certainly there's a lot of flexibility in the body to add shaping or add or subtract length.

This sweater will be making its debut in the Ross Farm booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck) this weekend in Building 22-U. Provided the weather cooperates, I'll be wearing it, and there will be plenty of Shetland yarn if you want to make one of your own in the same yarn! If you can't make it to Rhinebeck this year, you can still get the pattern on Ravelry, and this weekend only, it's available for 25% off with the coupon code RHINEBECK. Hop on over to get it now!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

In Which I Start to Lose My Mind

Friends, the way I can tell that it's Rhinebeck week and I am not at all prepared is by how crazy I have gotten with the knitting. But first, for anyone who was concerned about my finishing in time, let me ease your mind with this photo:

Sorry for scarring your retinas this early in the day; I snapped this just as I was about to wrap them. These, obviously, are my father's birthday socks, finished over breakfast yesterday morning and then quickly treated to a citric acid treatment and a block. I worked on them as much as I could over the weekend, but there were enough errands and chores to do that I only managed to get to halfway through the toe by the time I was off to bed on Sunday evening. Thankfully I had a bit of extra time yesterday morning because Rainbow was off from school for an in-service day and spent the day at the office with me, so we didn't need to leave the house quite as early as normal. I did give myself a bit of a heart attack when I managed to somehow yank all the stitches off the needles as I was in the process of grafting the toe of that second sock, but I got everything mostly back in place and thankfully black yarn hides all manner of goofs (not to mention that my father will never know the difference if the graft isn't perfect). So they are done and blocked and ready to be presented to my father at dinner tonight. I used 87 g of my skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce for these, leaving me some leftovers to add to my crochet blanket.

After finishing the socks, I got to that point where I felt like I had to cast on all the things -- I mean, I do have a lot of hours in the car coming up later this week, and I'll need some variety while I'm away! Yesterday at lunch I started a new hat for my nephew:

Despite the fact that the darker color looks blue here (bad early morning light, sorry), it's actually black, the same black as in the socks. I'm using two half skeins of FDW Traveler (sport weight) that were in my grab back to make a Halloween-ish hat. I used a new-to-me cast on for the brim, and once I get through the twisted ribbing, I'll be doing stripes with the two colors with some slipped stitches for interest.

I also started another little project last night, and this one I'm hoping to wrap up before I leave on Thursday. Remember that cute hat with the leaf on it? I'm making a pair of mittens to match.

I'm using the Snow Day Mittens pattern, with the leftover green from the hat for the cuffs and non-superwash blue yarn for the hands. I knit this entire mitten, including weaving in the ends, last night, so I think I can reasonably expect to finish the pair before I leave Thursday morning.

There will be more new projects cast on while I'm on the trip. Yarn has been wound and just needs to be put in project bags with appropriate needles.

The two skeins on the left are the latest shipment from the FDW Just Desserts club that I'm using for socks for Rainbow (toe up, which is why I've already divided it in half so I can knit until I basically run out of yarn). The mini skein in the center will be used for contrasting heels and toes. The blue and copper-y skeins on the right are from Dusty Tree Dyeworks and will be used for a new shawl design. (Rebecca also makes amazing soap and wool wash, by the way!)

As if all the knitting isn't scatterbrained enough, reading has also been less than focused. I'm nearly finished with Just Mercy and hope to get through the last 25 or so pages tonight. I also got notice over the weekend that my hold was up on The Nickel Boys from the library, so I started that yesterday as well. At least I should get some good reading time this weekend when I need a break from knitting!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Well That Was Satisfying!

When you finish a big project, sometimes you need a quick and easy follow-up. And the spinning project I just finished definitely fit the bill.

It's still wet, but it's done! This is the Romney I won during Camp Spin 15 this summer, and it's now been plied and washed. I don't expect it to bloom much, if at all, so it looks like the finished yarn will be about DK weight overall. It's a bit uneven and certainly not as smooth and consistent as my typical three-ply fingering, but it was so satisfying to finish this skein as quickly as I did that I don't care. And plying this up in about an hour today felt like a good way to round out the weekend.

Normally Sunday nights are a bit depressing (really, does anyone like Mondays?), but this is going to be a short week -- Rhinebeck week! -- and Rainbow is coming to the office with me tomorrow because it's an in-service day at her school. Even if I'm busy, it's so much more fun to have her there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a sock to finish!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Finished and Finishing

Having a holiday and a day off in the middle of the week really throws off my schedule, but I'm pretty sure today is Thursday and one of my regular blogging days.

Yesterday went fairly well; I find that it's easier to fast as I get older, and I think I sufficiently hydrated on Tuesday so I didn't get the horrible dehydration headache I usually get. My only side effects, as it were, from fasting were that I was really cold and really tired. I was actually too tired to knit at the end of the day, if you can believe it!

Yom Kippur, like all Jewish holidays, begins in the evening, at sundown, and there's a really beautiful service that opens it that begins with a prayer called Kol Nidre (here's a video if you'd like to hear it). The service my parents and brother went to started at 6 p.m., so we were in a rush to eat our big pre-fast meal so they could get there on time. We stayed at their house to clean up the dinner for them and then headed home, where we were able to watch the service at our synagogue online. While we watched, I was able to finish up this sweet little project:

Pattern: Little Worsted Sock Arms by Stephanie Lotven, size 6-12 months
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Mountain Tweed DK (85% wool/15% nylon) in a OOAK green and Bona Fide (100% superwash merino) in Pizza Pi(e)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) and US 5 (3.75 mm)
Started/Completed: September 29/October 8

This was a fun knit, though I'll readily admit it was rather fiddly because there are a lot of ends to weave in and not much space in which to weave them. I also substituted a DK yarn, which worked okay, but the fabric is a little loose for my taste. It works fine for a little sweater, but I'm planning to knit one of these for Rainbow eventually and will be sure to use a true worsted for hers.

My favorite part about this sweater is the sleeves. The yarn is dyed so that the stripes follow the digits of pi, so it's completely non-repeating and thus I didn't need to worry about trying to get them to match. The colors in this version are meant to represent common pizza toppings: red/brown for pepperoni or sausage, taupe for mushrooms, white for onions, green for green peppers, and black for black olives. There's a significant amount of yarn left, so I'll likely use it to make a hat, either for my nephew or to add to the charity pile.

Now that this is off the needles, I've turned all my attention to finishing up my father's birthday socks, and it's getting down to the wire. I've only just finished the first sock.

Ideally I will finish the second by the end of the weekend, because the black dye has been coming off on my fingers as I knit (pretty common for very saturated colors), so I want to give the finished socks a citric acid soak before I gift them and will need to allow time for them to dry after they're washed.

In my reading, I am very close to finishing up the Inspector Gamache I've been listening to and should be able to put it on my "read" shelf by the end of the day. I'm about a third of the way through Just Mercy and enjoying it quite a lot; I hope to make serious headway on it this weekend when I can stay up a little later to read. I've also been keeping an eye on my holds from the library, and it looks like I'll be getting The Nickel Boys in the next few days. At least that one I'll be able to read while I knit!

This weekend is my 20th high school reunion -- crazy! Because it's a small school, there's not a big to-do, but there are activities at the school on Friday and Saturday, so Rainbow and I are attending a few on Saturday. It is her school now, too, so it should be fun to go together!

Also on tap for the weekend? Going through the photos from last weekend's sweater pattern photo shoot and getting the pattern ready to launch next week!

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Wool Weather

Botanically printed sidewalk on the way to work

Though I first noticed it over the weekend, the beginning of the new week has formally announced the arrival of autumn. Yesterday was cool and rainy, and all day I felt like I couldn't get warm and my nose wouldn't stop running. I was thankful for the knit shawl I brought with me to work!

I am nearly done with my nephew's sweater; tonight should see the completion of the second sleeve and the final weaving in of ends. Then all I will need to do is find and sew on a button for it to be finished!

As soon as the sweater is done, I will turn all my focus to my father's socks, as I now have only a week until his birthday. While I'm sure he wouldn't mind an IOU, I'd like to give him a completed pair, and realistically if I focus I shouldn't have much trouble doing it.

I'm currently at five inches for the foot and need to get to eight before I start the toe.

Tonight marks the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. That means I will be fasting from after dinner tonight until dinnertime tomorrow. Fasting always makes me cold, so I expect that when we get home from services, I'll be curled up under a blanket for the rest of the day. I might manage a little knitting or spinning, but really it's a day for rest and reflection (and then, once the fast is over, for some serious rehydration -- I can manage just fine with the not eating, but it's the lack of water that really gets to me!). See you back here on Thursday!

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Autumn, Officially

After several days last week that felt like mid-July rather than October, I am happy to report that autumn has officially arrived here in Western Pennsylvania. Friday was comfortably cool (I wore a wool cardigan all day and only got a little warm on my walk in to work), and Saturday when the Mister and I lined up for the start of another 5K race, it was a balmy 42F! I wore wool socks yesterday and made soup and apple crisp for dinner tonight, and it feels wonderful!

I hadn't done any spinning since finishing my big project last weekend, but Friday nights I usually spend at my wheel, watching podcasts and spinning. So this past Friday evening I did just that, starting a new project -- some Romney fiber dyed by Sherrill that I won for Camp Spin 15 this summer. I divided the fiber into thirds for a traditional three ply, and while I originally intended to spin some sock yarn, it's not being terribly cooperative as far as spinning as fine as I'd need to, so I'm just going with it. The first bobbin is already done.

The fiber was dyed in shades of blue and green, with a bit of white in there as well, so there's some nice blending happening.

I've already started the second bobbin and have made good progress, and considering that I'm likely to do some spinning on Wednesday while I'm off work for Yom Kippur (anything requiring thinking or counting doesn't work so well with fasting, so spinning is typically a good activity), there's a good chance I'll have this off the wheel by this time next weekend.

It's been a really good fall weekend here, though too short, as always. The race went well yesterday (my time wasn't quite as good as my PR last week, but it was close, and I ran the whole course for the first time), we got to go out to dinner with some friends, and I've had some time to read and rest. I did finish up Eleanor Oliphant Friday and really enjoyed it, so now I'm back to reading Just Mercy. I'm expecting another library hold in two weeks or so, giving me enough time (I hope) to finish the other three books I'm in the middle of at the moment. I also got my sweater pattern off to my tech editor, so I now have that weight off my shoulders, and I'm looking forward to Rhinebeck. See why I love this time of year?

Thursday, October 03, 2019

A Time of Three Books (and More)

In my younger days, I could not read more than one book at a time, at least not for pleasure. I would have trouble keeping the plots and characters straight and have a hard time getting through any one of them. As I've gotten older, though, I seem to find that more and more I have multiple books in progress. I think part of it is that I'm more accustomed to multitasking, but it's also a result of the many ways I "read" books these days. There are still the physical books that I read in bed at night, but increasingly there are also ebooks that I can read on my phone or tablet or on the computer and audiobooks that I listen to while I run or while doing things like cleaning or knitting. This past year, it's been quite common for me to have two books going at once, in fact. At the moment, however, I'm finding myself a bit more loaded up on books than usual.

Among the current reads, the one I've been reading the longest is How to Be Less Stupid about Race. I heard Crystal Fleming speak at a conference earlier in the year and was so impressed with her that I ordered her book on the spot. I'm reading it much like a textbook, with a highlighter in hand, so it's going slowly and deliberately. I think I'm something like 90 pages in. This one will probably get put on the back burner for the near future, which is fine with me; I'm reading it as part of my personal growth in my efforts to be more educated about race and racism and how to be a more effective antiracist, and I want to take my time with it.

Earlier in the week I started Just Mercy, which I'm reading as part of the readalong and discussion that Bonny, Carole, and Kym are hosting. I expect this is going to be my main bedtime reading until I finish it. I've only gotten through the introduction and started the first chapter thus far, but I hope to have more reading time this weekend to spend some more time with it.

The third book in the mix is the fourth in the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, A Rule Against Murder. I started it over the weekend so I'd have something to listen to during the race on Sunday and have been listening during my lunch break as well. I borrowed it through a new app that I'm using called Hoopla, which is similar to Libby or Overdrive in that it's done through the library, but it also offers video. It also does not appear to have the same wait times as the library, though different libraries have different limits on how many borrows you're permitted a month (mine gives me 10, which is more than enough).

Very shortly I will be adding a fourth book to the mix: I got an e-mail from the library this morning that my hold on Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine has finally come up, so I'll likely start reading that today. It never rains but it pours!

Lest you think I'm spending all my time reading (though with all these books to finish, I probably should be!), here is one of the newest projects on my needles.

This is most of the body of a Little Worsted Sock Arms for my nephew and is the result of just a few hours of work. I started it Sunday afternoon and have worked on it a bit each evening since. Tonight I should be able to finish up the body and get started on the sleeves, which will be knit from a self-striping. The yarn I'm using for the body is Fibernymph Dye Works Mountain Tweed DK, which seems to be working just find in a pattern calling for worsted. I love how quickly this is working up and I expect I'll be finished with it before too long. If only kids could stay this tiny for longer!