Thursday, December 01, 2016

Sanity Check

Those of you who are parents know that the love you have for your children seems endless. That's certainly how I feel about Rainbow. She is my one and only, and even when she's having a tantrum and driving me crazy, I love her more than anything. Sometimes this love drives me to do crazy things. Like knit her a sweater on size 0/2.0 mm needles.

Let me back up a bit. You may remember that I'd declared my intent to knit her a Dancing Leaves Cardigan for the Gift-a-long using a couple of gradient mini skein sets. The pattern calls for starting with a size 0 needle and then moving to a size 2/3.0 mm. I had to go down to a US 1.5/2.5 mm needle to get gauge, but I don't own anything smaller than a 0, so that's what I cast on with. I've now worked on this sweater for two evenings and only finished about a dozen rows.

I don't have an issue with using needles this small per se; I regularly use size 0 needles for my socks, for instance, and I can churn those out pretty quickly. I think what's tripping me up most here is the chart; it uses symbols that I'm not used to and also multiple symbols for the same stitch (for instance, one symbol might be used if a stitch is knit on RS rows and purled on WS rows, and an entirely different stitch is used if the stitch is knit on both RS and WS rows). As I've knit more, I've definitely gotten a bit more familiar with the symbols and haven't had to stop to check the key as much, and the good news is that once I'm past the yoke, the rest of the sweater is just stockinette, so I'll be able to fly (slowly) through that. I am hoping that I can get all the cabling work done before we leave for vacation so that I won't have to try to make sense of tiny charts while I'm knitting poolside.

Rainbow's Eiswasser is moving along slowly as well, and I'm inching closer to the end of the 1x1 ribbing.

I think the forward movement on this project will be a lot faster once I get past the brim. I am a fast knitter, but all the moving of the yarn back and forth really slows me down, and the kicker is that my knitting time on this has been really limited because I can't knit on it when Rainbow is around. I've planned for this hat to be a Chanukah present for her, and fortunately the holiday falls rather late this year (the first night is on Christmas Eve), so worst case scenario, I have until New Year's Eve to finish it.

One thing I neglected to share in my last post is that I did finish one gift for her. She had asked me not too long ago for a cowl like the rainbow brioche one I made for myself several years ago, so I got out some brightly colored handspun and knit up a quick one for her:

This is just simple brioche stitch worked over 80 stitches on size 7/4.5 mm needles. I opted for a closer-fitting version for her rather than an infinity cowl for safety reasons, but this is tall enough that she can scrunch it down, fold it over, or even pull it up over her head and ears if it's really cold. The yarn, BFL from Gale's Art in the colorway Crayon Box (a MDSW purchase), was a delight to knit with, and it's made me want to spin up some thicker yarn. In fact, I might do just that with the All Spun Up merino I picked up at Indie Knit & Spin earlier this month, which hasn't yet made its way into the stash.

Finally, I got some exciting news the other evening. On a whim, I'd entered the SSK lottery a while back, figuring I wouldn't get it but it couldn't hurt to try. And guess what? I got a spot! I talked it over with the Mister, and he told me I should go (I suppose it's only fair, as he goes to fun places on work trips all the time), so I've confirmed my spot and sent in my deposit. I will have to book a flight once the date is a little closer (Southwest does fly direct, but they don't have flights available yet for that far out), but it's actually happening! I am really excited because I've never been to a retreat like this before, and the teachers who are lined up are amazing. It will be a bit of an adventure -- I think the last time I traveled on my own was back when I was in college or grad school, and I've never been to Tennessee. There's still quite a bit of time until the event, but I guess I should start my yarn fund now!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Mitten Factory Is Closed

It took staying up a bit late last night, but I'm happy to report that the last pair of holiday gift mittens is officially off the needles! Here's a look at the pile:

All of these were knit using Susan B. Anderson's Waiting for Winter Mittens and Fingerless Mitts pattern, with some minor modifications. I believe the original pattern has you put the thumb gusset in at the end of the round, but I put it in the middle so that the beginning of the round falls on the outside edge of the wrist/hand when the mitten is worn. I also used lifted increases rather than the m1s called for. I adjusted my needle size on some of the mittens using thicker yarn (those would be the pairs worked in Cascade Eco Wool; I went up to a US 6/4.0 mm for those), but most were knit on US 5/3.75 mm needles. The other yarns I used were Knit Picks Telemark and Merino Style (both discontinued), Malabrigo Merino Worsted, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Targhee Worsted, and Valley Yarns Amherst.

I can't promise there won't be more of these mittens, especially since I've pretty much got the pattern memorized now and I have lots of worsted leftovers that would make great mittens to donate, but I do need to take a brief break.

Finishing off that last mitten meant that I was now free to finally cast on my Gift-a-long projects! The first one to jump on the needles was a new-ish pattern called Eiswasser. I'm knitting this for Rainbow as a gift, and it's a surprise, so that means I can only work on it at work or after she's gone to bed. It's not going to be a quick knit by any stretch of the imagination (the cast on starts with 156 stitches, and that stitch count doubles once the ribbing is done to accommodate all pull-in of the cables), but I think it'll look pretty amazing.

The yarn I'm using is some Fibernymph Dye Works Bedazzled in Cake Pops that I bought several months ago with the intent to make something for Rainbow. I think the stitch count is going to be large enough that I won't really get stripes once I get to the cabled part, but that might be better because it won't obscure the stitch pattern as much.

The other GAL project I'll be starting this evening is the Dancing Leaves Cardigan I've been swatching for over the past week. I did finally get gauge on US 1.5/2.5 mm needles (yes, you read that correctly!), so it will be a very fine gauge knit and will likely take me all of the GAL period to finish, if it fact I can finish it by then. I figure that if I can limit myself to working pretty much exclusively on these two projects, I can get them done.

But who am I kidding? There's another project on the needles for when I need a break from thinking -- just a pair of plain stockinette socks in FDW Traveler (Lisa's sportweight base) in the colorway Coffee at Luke's. I cast them on after Thanksgiving dinner, thinking they'd be good to work on during the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life marathon I had with my mom the next day.

I suppose it's probably not a bad idea to have a fairly mindless project on the needles for those times when I want to knit when Rainbow is around!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Feeling the Blues (and Greens)

Despite my best intentions, I ended up spending most of the holiday weekend knitting rather than spinning. That meant that I made good progress on my knitting projects, but my spinning hasn't progressed as much as I would have liked. I have two bobbins (of three total) complete of my second skein of FatCatKnits Rambouillet, with the second just finished earlier this afternoon.

I really love this colorway, which should come as no surprise given that blue and green are my two favorite colors. This spin is so pleasurable, and I must admit that I'm going to be sad when it's done. I think I can safely say that Rambo is a new favorite fiber breed (I suppose I just go gaga for the breeds that are crimpy and puff up when washed). Given how much I liked this fiber, I think I will finally get around to spinning up the Rambo fleece that I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool several years ago.

I'm hoping to give the wheel a little more attention this week, so with any luck, the next time you see this fiber, it'll be in the form of a finished skein of yarn!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Knitting Friday

Hi, everyone! I'm a day late with my usual post because I decided to take Thanksgiving off. Well, not really, but the reality is that I was busy most of the day and by the time I remembered it was Thursday, it was pretty late and I just didn't have the mental energy to put together a coherent post. So you get a Friday post instead.

On this Black Friday, I'm staying far, far away from the malls. Instead, my mother is coming over and we are spending the day binge-watching the new Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I'm planning on knitting as much as possible while we watch. For one thing, the mitten factory is almost done. I finished up this pair for my father earlier in the week:

(Waiting for Winter Mittens by Susan B. Anderson, size L for width but size XL for length, in Cascade Eco Wool)

And then these were finished last night before I went to bed (but you'll have to make do with an in-progress shot):

(Same pattern, size L, in the discontinued Knit Picks Telemark)

I'll be casting on the last pair this morning and, if I'm speedy enough, finishing it in short order so that I can move on to knitting projects I'd rather do.

One of those projects is a surprise gift for Rainbow, who asked me to make her a brioche cowl like mine, but shorter. I pulled out some handspun that I spun years ago with the intention of making something her and cast on. I think this will be a quick knit, as the yarn only had 180-ish yards and this is the result of one evening of knitting:

Gale's Art BFL in Crayon Box

If those two projects don't keep me busy enough, I've got a new pair of socks that I cast on last night with this skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Traveler (Lisa's sportweight base) in a colorway that's very appropriate for today's activities -- Coffee at Luke's.

Lisa is actually having a progressive sale in her shop this weekend, and she has a lot of holiday colors in the store right now, so I'd encourage you to click over!

Whether you're shopping or shopping from home this Black Friday, I wanted to remind you that 18 of my patterns are still on sale for the Indie Designer Gift-a-long with the code giftalong2016. There are thousands of other patterns on sale as well, so definitely take a look and support independent designers this holiday season. And don't forget to come join the fun in the Gift-a-long group!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pattern Release: River Waters Shawl

It's another Tuesday, and another pattern from my Stitchburgh collection is ready to make its debut. Presenting the River Waters Shawl!

This design was inspired by Pittsburgh's three rivers, the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio. In fact, the spot where I'm standing in the photo above is where the first two come together to form the third. The ribbed cable band along the lower edge of the shawl represents the movement of the water in the rivers, as the cables twist toward the center from the outer edges just like the Allegheny and the Mon converge to form the Ohio.

This shawl is worked in several directions for an engaging knit. You start by knitting that long ribbed cable band. When that is complete, you pick up stitches along one side of it and use short rows to shape the garter stitch body. Finally, you pick up stitches along the other edge of the band to knit the bottom border. This pattern will challenge you a bit -- you need to know how to do a provisional cast on, work ribbing and cables, pick up stitches, do short rows with w&t, and do an I-cord bind off -- but no one element is particularly challenging. It's definitely one of those patterns that looks more complex than it is. The ribbed cable band, for instance, is basically the same row repeated over and over again except for the one row with cable crosses.

The sample was knit in SpaceCadet Celeste, a light fingering superwash merino yarn, in a colorway called Look Up! I deliberately chose a slightly variegated yarn, as the water in the three rivers does vary in color. I used two skeins, but I had plenty leftover, as each skein has a generous 490 yards. You'll need approximately 700 yds./640 m to knit this.

Buy the pattern:

Buy the collection:
*  *  *  *  *

Before I sign off, I wanted to mention that the fourth annual Indie Designer Gift-A-Long officially kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. EST. The pattern sale (in which between 5 and 20 patterns from every participating designer will be 25% off with the coupon code giftalong2016) runs from the start of the GAL through November 30 at 11:59 p.m. EST. All participating designers will have a bundle of their on-sale patterns featured on their Ravelry designer page; you can find mine here. The GAL itself will run through the end of the year, and I highly recommend joining the group and participating in the -alongs. There are tons of prizes to be awarded (both physical prizes and coupon codes for free patterns) as well as lots of fun games and camaraderie!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sproing Goes the Skein

Have you spun Rambouillet before? I haven't (we won't mention the Rambo fleece that's been sitting in my stash unspun for sevveral years), so I was very pleasantly surprised with my latest spin, half of a FatCatKnits club shipment. The two colorways were inspired by lobsters. I decided to spin up each colorway as a traditional three ply with the hope that I could use both skeins together in some sort of colorwork. I picked the reddish colorway, Clawd (hehe), to spin first. It turned out exactly as I hoped.

It is fluffy and plump and soft -- and boy does it have major spring to it! The whole skein has great elasticity. To give you an idea of just how much sproing we're talking about, consider this: I wound the skein off on my two-yard (72 in.) niddy noddy. After it was washed and dried, the skein had shrunk up to 51 in. If that doesn't give you an idea of the amazing crimp of this fiber, I'm not sure what would.

I've already started on the second colorway in the shipment, a medley of blues and greens called Gamma. The first bobbin is almost finished.

The colors are very distinct now, but I'm approaching this colorway in the same way I did the first: Each little bundle of fiber is being split into four strips (I've found the fiber is a little easier to draft this way) and then spun end to end. My hope is that the colors will mix up when the yarn is plied for an overall blue/green shade.

One thing this spin has taught me is that I LOVE spinning Rambouillet! I predict that fleece will not be neglected for much longer.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Can You Guess What I'm Knitting?

Another day, another pair of mittens on the needles. I did finish up the nearly done pair you saw earlier in the week shortly after I posted, so that's one more pair off the list:

It's flash-required-for-photo season again. Blergh.

Pattern: Waiting for Winter Mittens & Fingerless Mitts by Susan B. Anderson, size XL
Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool, color unknown, approximately 183.5 yards
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) Knit Picks Options, magic loop
Started/Completed: November 9/November 15
Mods: worked hands 1/2 inch shorter than called for before decreases; picked up extra stitches for thumb to close gap (decreased in first round)

These were really much faster to knit than the start and end dates would lead you to think. I put them aside for several days to finish up another project (more on that in a moment), but when I did pick them up, they got finished very quickly. The pattern calls for a worsted weight, but the Eco Wool is more of a bulky, so these turned out a little larger than they would have if I had used the right weight of yarn. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly the thicker yarn meant a faster knit. I have another color that I'm planning to use for another pair, and I think I will use the same needle size but go down to the size large in the pattern.

As soon as I had cast off and finished weaving in ends on these mittens, I cast on for the next pair. These are for my brother, who is a big sports fan, so he is the lucky one who will get black and gold mittens (conveniently, all our local sports teams use the same colors). The first mitten is done and the second will be started this evening.

I worked on this pair last night when I finally made it to the Steel City Fiber Collective for their weekly knit night last night. I saw some familiar faces and some new ones, and it was nice to spend a bit of the evening with other knitters again. I didn't stay very long, as Rainbow was a bit clingy before I left and gave me sad puppy dog eyes while she asked me to come home in time to put her to bed, but I'll definitely be back.

After I posted on Tuesday, I did indeed block my finished shawl. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. The shape is the same as the first sample, but the look is really different. With the yarnover eyelets in this version, the shaping is a bit more obvious.

Colors not accurate

I've already gotten a draft of the pattern written up, so now I have to do some final measurements, make a schematic or two, and take some photos.

This weekend should be a busy one, though we really don't have much scheduled. We are having some windows replaced on our third floor next week, so that means cleaning out the rooms up there, one of which is the spare bedroom I refer to as my stash room. It's in a bit of disarray (I tend to just toss stuff up there and grab it when I need it), so I'll have to put everything into bags or bins so that we can move it to a closet or the basement while the work is being done. I'll have to take down my swift as well, so I'll need to wind yarn that I'll need in the coming week or two, and I'll need to make sure any yarn or fiber I want to use in the foreseeable future is easy to access. I suppose that for as much of a pain as it will be, it will also be useful in that I'll organize things and clean out random crap that I've tossed in that room over the years.