Thursday, August 15, 2019

Complete 180

Despite a similarly crazy schedule to last week, that knitting ennui has been replaced this week by a desire to start All The Projects. I guess fall (aka Prime Knitting Season) must be just around the corner!

I am still working diligently on my Rhinebeck sweater and am about 8 inches into the body; I joined my second skein of yarn last night. No photo because it looks the same, just a bit bigger.

I did finish up that blanket square over the weekend, and Rainbow has declared it to be the last one, so now it's time to seam all the squares together. We took a good dig through the stash the other day and came up with this leftover partial skein of handspun sock yarn, and I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be enough.

I am just planning to crochet the squares together and not add any border, so it should be a fairly straightforward process, as least in theory. I still have to have Rainbow decide on a layout for me so I can have some semblance of a plan.

Meanwhile, I seem to have started another sock yarn blanket without noticing.

Rainbow's been wanting to expand her crochet skills (you may remember that she taught herself single and double crochet earlier this year for a school project), and I'd promised I'd teach her how to do a granny square. The easiest way to do it was to crochet one alongside her, and, well, it's addictive. I still have a big bag of Fibernymph Dye Works leftovers that I thought I'd be using in more blanket squares, and then I came across a couple more partial skeins in the dig for seaming yarn, so it looks like I'll be busy with this for a while.

Though I haven't cast on yet, I am itching to start yet another new project, this time for charity knitting. Last week I ripped out an old sweater to reclaim the (non-superwash) yarn to make some Snow Day Mittens, and I washed it and wound it into cakes so it'd be ready.

I've got roughly 830 yards of this to play with, and lots of scraps of superwash to use for the cuffs, so I should be able to make quite a few pairs of mittens.

Finally, I've got my lunchtime/on-the-go knitting, and it's socks (surprise, surprise). I'm using the yarn from the first shipment of the FDW Just Desserts club, and as the colorway was named Summer Fruit Tarte, I couldn't not use the contrasting mini skein (appropriately crust colored) to make a crust-like cuff.

It looks like I'll have a lot to keep me busy if the weather this weekend forces me indoors!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Pattern Release: Schuss Socks

Though fall is getting closer -- the days are starting to get shorter, the mornings a little cooler -- we're still in summer for a while yet. I'm not the kind of knitter who gives up working on larger projects in the summer (I'm always cold in the air conditioning anyway), but when I take my knitting out and about on warmer days, I do find that I prefer something small and light. That usually means a sock. And this summer, I've been all about the shortie/ankle socks.

When I finished Rainbow's Little Boxy earlier this year, I had a fair amount of yarn leftover, so I thought I'd use at least some of it to make her some ankle socks and use them as an excuse to try out a stitch pattern I'd been playing with. As soon as I finished them, she promptly put them on and wore them every evening until I had to steal them to wash them, so I knew they were a hit. And I knew I'd also need to reknit them for proper pattern photos and in something other than semisolid yarn so I could make sure the stitch pattern looked okay. And also so I'd have my own pair.

I have to admit that I'm rather shamelessly fond of these socks. The stitch pattern looks complicated but isn't, and something about that texture makes these so much more addictive than self-striping yarn on its own. Of course, you don't need to use self-striping yarn for these -- the stitch pattern looks nice in solid, semisolid, and variegated as well.

If you followed my progress on this second pair on Instagram, you'll know that I had a hard time coming up with a name for them. For me, naming my designs is the hardest part of the process. I had the same issue when I was a teenager and did a lot of creative writing: Coming up with a title was always the thing I struggled with most. I asked for suggestions on IG and in my Ravelry group, but nothing really struck me as the right name. I wanted something that was a little onomatopoeic, something that was fun to say as well as somewhat descriptive of the pattern itself. And then, over the weekend, it suddenly hit me.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, a schuss is a straight downhill on skis at high speed. It's sometimes also called a schussboom (isn't that a great word?), and apparently it was also the name of the first Olympics mascot. I thought it was perfect for these socks because in addition to the fact that they are a very fast knit, the stitch pattern reminds me a bit of the marks on the snow left behind by skis. Also, how awesome would it be to shout "SchussBOOM!" when you finish a pair?

These socks are essentially a heel, a foot and a toe. They use a traditional heel flap and gusset, but I've moved the gusset decreases so that they fall on the bottom of the foot and hug the heel. The stitch pattern is both written out and charted, and the pattern is graded to five sizes so you can knit these shorties for the whole family. This sample was knit using Knit Picks Felici, and though I did use two separate skeins so I could get the stripes to match on this pair, I used 49 g to fit my large feet, so if you have smaller feet, you could easily get a pair out of one skein (I'm planning to use my leftovers to make Rainbow another pair of anklets). Any fingering weight yarn will work, and to make these even faster, I've knit them up at a larger gauge than normal: 8 stitches per inch. As always, the pattern has been tech edited to ensure an easy-to-understand, error-free pattern.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Very Little Spinning

You may think from the title of this post that I have not done much spinning in the past week. That's not true -- thanks to Camp Spin 15 in 19, I got quite a bit done on my Polwarth singles. But this weekend I was a bit distracted due to the arrival of a new little spinning thing on Friday.

This is our brand-new Electric Eel Nano, which I'd backed on Kickstarter many months ago. I say "our" because this is meant to be Rainbow's wheel, but as she's still very much learning how to spin, I am spinning on it a bit first to get to know it so I can help her when she's ready to have a go. We have a total of seven bobbins (three purple, two white, and two green) as well as the power cord and a USB cord. The rolag I'm spinning was an extra goodie in my Fibernymph Dye Works fiber minis package last year, and I've been waiting for the perfect excuse to spin it. I'm not terribly concerned about how well it comes out, which gives me some freedom to play and put the wheel through its paces.

I will give a full review of this nifty little wheel once I've had more of a chance to get acquainted with it, but for now I will say that it's very light and one of the most clever features I've found yet is that there's a magnet in the body of the wheel that holds the orifice threader in place.

Thursday, August 08, 2019


I think I have hit the lull of the summer. I'm not feeling particularly excited about anything at the moment, and I think the main problem is that work has been so busy that I have very little mental or physical energy at the end of the day. That won't go on forever, thankfully, and I'm sure my enthusiasm will return eventually, so in the meantime I'll just keep on keeping on.

After spending the evenings in the early part of the week spinning, I'm back to working on my Rhinebeck sweater. I think I've knit a little more stockinette than ribbing at this point, but there's still quite a long way to go before I get to the fun part.

My sock yarn blanket square is growing, and perhaps it'll be complete by the end of the week.

Reading update: I haven't had a ton of time for reading over the past week, but I've managed to finish one (audio)book, Maisie Dobbs. I started listening to it on a run, and then I continued listening while spinning this week. I very much enjoyed it -- four stars from me. I will likely start listening to the next book in the series when I run this weekend.

I may be cheating a bit here, but I've put this book into the "About politics" square on my bingo card. The book deals with war, social class, gender roles, and mental illness -- all of those are political, right?

After hearing positive reviews from Kat and Bonny, I started reading Middlemarch. I was hopeful that my preconceived notions about it (based on a college roommate's complaints when she had to read it for a class) were wrong, but I have to say that it's rather a slog. I've always experienced some weirdness with Kindle books and the page number, but for this book, it seems to take several screens before I've read a page of the book -- and considering that the book is 500+ pages long, that really adds to the length! As I'm not reading this for a class and don't need to pay such close attention, I'm essentially skimming it, and I'm hoping that the goal of filling in a bingo card square will be good motivation to finish it.

Tonight we're taking dinner over to my brother- and sister-in-law's to spend some time with our adorable nephew, and the weekend ahead should be perfect for spending time outside. Here's hoping the summer doldrums go away soon!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Ravel and Unravel*

It's shaping up to be a heck of a busy week. The calm of the summer at work has passed, and now I've got more work to do than time. So I look forward to my brief breaks to knit more than ever.

I finished these socks over the weekend. I had sent off the pattern to my tech editor on Friday, so I figured I should really finish the second sock so I could take pattern photos and have them ready for when she gets the edited pattern back to me. I'm happy with them but am even happier to have them done.

I am still working on my Rhinebeck sweater and it doesn't look much different, but because the socks were finished I needed a new work project. I decided to resurrect a very old project. Some longtime readers may remember that when I was pregnant with Rainbow, I started making a bunch of log cabin blanket squares with leftover scraps of fingering weight yarn, thinking that I'd have enough to have a blanket complete by the time she arrived. Unfortunately I ran out of yarn before that happened, and then she was born and I didn't have time to knit much, so the squares got put away for about a decade. But since then I've collected quite a lot of scraps and Rainbow has proven herself to be quite knitworthy, so I though it would be a good project to work on again. And for a very busy time at work, garter stitch worked flat is the perfect mindless knitting.

This was what I accomplished during my lunch break yesterday. It isn't much, but it was soothing knitting. The yarn is some leftover Fibernymph Dye Works Bedazzled in Sad Panda (self-striping, hence the color changes). It was one of the bigger balls leftover, and my plan is to knit with it until it runs out or the square is done, whichever comes first.

Meanwhile, there has been some unraveling here the past couple of days. I decided that one of the first sweaters I made wasn't really my style anymore and the yarn could be put to better use. I'm also not buying yarn from that company anymore. So I unraveled it. Here's what it looked like most of the way through the process:

I've got five skeins of various sizes that have now gotten a bath in some warm water and Soak and are drying and un-kinking a bit. I plan to use this yarn to make some Snow Day Mittens to donate, using some leftover scraps of superwash yarn for the cuffs. I'm not sure that using up yarn that was already in a sweater counts as knitting down the stash, but at least there's some more room in the sweater drawer for something I will wear!

*The title is taken from a poem of the same name by Jorie Graham, which I read years ago. It's about Penelope in the Odyssey, and how each night she unraveled the weaving she had done during the day in an effort to ward off her many suitors as she awaited the hoped-for return of Odysseus.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Weekending Done Right

This was the weekend I really needed, one I would like to have every week, to be honest, but one that I really especially needed after a busy workweek.

Friday nights we usually have Shabbat dinner at my parents', but this weekend they are away getting the new house in Florida into shape (have I mentioned that when they took Rainbow down over her spring break in March, they bought a new one?). So instead we went to a family "cookout" (it ended up being indoors due to rain) at our synagogue, and we were home on the earlier side, so we all were able to relax a bit before bed, me at my spinning wheel, Rainbow with a book, the Mister with his various electronics.

Yesterday, I went for a run first thing, before I lost my nerve and before it got too hot. I've been training all summer for the two 5K races that the Mister and I typically run in the fall at the end of September/beginning of October, and I've slowly been building up my endurance. Last week, I managed to go for 2.1 miles before I took a walk break. This week, I felt really good, so I thought I'd just keep going until I felt like I had to stop -- and I managed to make it 3.15 miles! I walked a bit and added on an additional tenth of a mile to make it an even three and a quarter, but I'm super psyched to have managed more than a 5K at this point in the year. I still have to repeat it, but I am feeling good.

After I had breakfast and cleaned up, we all walked to a local farmers market nearby (about another two miles round trip) and picked up some fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and cherries as well as a freshly baked loaf of sourdough. We had a quiet evening at home with "snacks" for dinner -- including the bread, the cherries, and the tomatoes -- and Rainbow and I made a batch of pesto with the basil we'd bought and some from our herb pot outside. It felt really good to get into bed last night, and if you need a visual representation of why, well, here you are:

My legs were tired -- and that doesn't even count all the treadling I did at my wheel yesterday! This weekend was the kickoff of Camp Spin 15, and I managed about an hour and a half both yesterday and today. I'm trying to spin up as much of the Polwarth I started during Tour de Fleece as I can, and I'd estimate I'm about halfway through the second bobbin.

When I started the project, I had two full bags of the fiber bundles plus about half a bag with the overflow. I've now got about one and a third bags, so I can tell that I'm making progress even if the bobbin seems slow to fill. Camp continues for two more days, and while I don't think I'll finish all of the singles in that time, I may just finish up this bag of fiber. My goal is to complete the singles and ply all the yarn before the end of Stash Dash -- mainly because doing that would rack up a heck of a lot of meters toward my total!

The best part of the weekend, however, was something that was expected but still a surprise: My nephew has finally been born! After getting to the hospital at about 11 Friday night and laboring all day yesterday, my sister-in-law gave birth at about 9:40 last night, and today we got to go and meet him. I know I'm rather biased, but I think he's absolutely adorable!

Rainbow is, quite obviously, in love with her cousin. She said after we'd left that she wished she could have stayed with him all day to cuddle him! I'm hoping that even though he ended up being a bigger baby (8 lbs. 9 oz.!) he'll still fit into the sweater I knit him earlier this summer. I'm planning some additional baby knits soon, and I'll likely err on side of making a larger size. The new family of three is expecting to go home on Tuesday, and we plan to take them dinner sometime this week, so you can expect more cute baby pictures in the near future!

Thursday, August 01, 2019

One, Two, Three

I'm keeping things simple today with a list:

1. One stitch (all knit)

Last night I successfully finished the ribbing on my Rhinebeck sweater, which means I'm now on to the ease of stockinette -- just knit knit knit until it's long enough. The switchover means that this project is now fully mindless and thus faster. I've also switched over to larger needles, and I've actually gone from a 40 inch circular (which was really too big for a sweater that's going to be about 38 inches in circumference) to a 32 inch circ, so things are now much more comfortable.

2. Two books read

I finished two books this week, one of which was a quick read and one that I've been reading for far too long.

The Lost Girls of Paris was a library book that I'd had a hold on for more than a month, I think, and I ended up being rather disappointed in it. For as much as it was a quick read and moderately entertaining, I was so distracted by the implausibility of the story lines that I really didn't enjoy it. I gave it two stars; if you're okay with some minor spoilers and want to know why I didn't like it, you can read my review here.

I'd been reading Dreyer's English since late April (silly me thought it would be my first bingo square covered!) and finally finished it last night. It didn't take me that long to get through it because it wasn't good or I didn't enjoy it. Rather, I kept putting it down in favor of other books (many of them library books with a due date and a waiting list) because I knew I'd get back to it eventually. This one was a good read. For those of you who may not already know this, my day job is as a copyeditor, so style, punctuation, and grammar are very pertinent to me and at heart I'm a language nerd. This was an interesting and humorous read that earned four stars from me.

When I checked on my Goodreads reading challenge after finishing these, I was surprised to see that I'm way ahead of pace to meet my goal of reading 50 books this year. I'm at 44 already!

3. Three skeins of yarn (if you include the mini skein)

Despite my self-imposed yarn diet, I have had some new skeins of yarn come into the house over the past week or so, but they're sock yarn, and sock yarn doesn't count, right?

The skein of the right is the free skein I won for participating in the Fibernymph Dye Works Monthly Makes program for the first half of the year. I got to pick the base and colorway I wanted, and I chose Cosmic on Bounce (superwash merino/nylon). Rainbow tried to steal it from me when she saw it, so I've agreed to use it to make us matching pairs of shortie/ankle socks (they are her new favorite thing -- she's been wearing the most recent pair I made her every evening since I finished them). The skeins on the left arrived yesterday, and they're the first shipment from Lisa's Just Desserts sock yarn club, which I caved and signed up for. This colorway is called Summer Fruit Tarte, and it came with a mini skein dyed to look like pie crust and a recipe for the tart itself. The yarn looks good enough to eat, don't you think?

We've got a quieter weekend planned, with the only things currently on the calendar being a cookout at our synagogue tomorrow evening and a birthday party for a friend of Rainbow's on Sunday afternoon. Rainbow and I have talked about maybe checking out the farmers market near us Saturday morning as well. We are still anxiously awaiting the arrival of our nephew; my sister-in-law's due date has come and gone, and when she went for an ultrasound yesterday, they told her that they estimate the baby is now weighing more than 9 pounds! They are headed back to the doctor today to discuss the plan going forward, and for her sake, I hope the baby comes soon!