Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cute (but Not Especially Little)

'Tis done! In plenty of time, no less!

Pattern: Little Boxy by Joji Locatelli, size 8
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in Peacock Blue, 2.21 skeins (another 808 m for Stash Dash!)
Needles: US 2.5 (3.0 mm) and US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: April 28/June 22
Mods: None

This was such a fun knit. Yes, it's true that the body was a bit of a slog, but in reality the hardest part about this adorable sweater was dealing with two skeins of yarn (I alternated every round on the body and every other row on the parts that were worked flat) and having all those extra ends to weave in -- and those have nothing to do with the pattern itself but rather with my decision to use hand-dyed yarn, which meant alternating to avoid pooling or clear lines where I switched from one skein to another. It really wasn't that much extra work, and I think it was more than worth it. The only place I did not alternate was on the sleeves, where I used the remains of the two skeins I started with in order to leave the third skein more or less intact for use in another project.

I was originally going to knit the next size up, thinking that Rainbow will be 10 later this year and I wanted this to fit her for more than the next few months, but I did some measurements and she's such a skinny little thing that the 8 was more than big enough. I did have a brief moment of panic when I went to pick up the stitches for the first sleeve that the arm openings were too small, but then I pulled out one of her pajama tops for comparison and my fears were laid to rest.

As you can see, the circumference of the sweater is nearly twice that of her body (this top has minimal positive ease on her), meaning that the sleeves are going to hit in the middle of her arm to begin with, and on top of that, the armhole opening on the sweater is the same circumference of the armhole opening on the top -- so that even if the sweater armhole did hit at the biggest part of her arm, she'd still be fine.

I'm thrilled, and more importantly I think she'll be thrilled, and I'm happy to have finished it up in plenty of time. I even blocked it over the weekend so that it's all tidy and ready for her to wear, should she so choose (and should the weather cooperate) when she gets back on Friday. And I'm fighting an urge to cast on a new one for me!

Now that this is done, I'm focusing on a sweater for me, specifically my Soldotna Crop. I think that if I give it the same amount of attention I gave Rainbow's sweater last week, I can make quite a dent in it! I'm about halfway through the yoke chart at this point, and the number of stitches is now big enough that I've been able to spread out the fabric on the entire length of my circular needle instead of magic looping.

Today I'm attending a diversity retreat at work all day, and I'm taking my sock project with me (I finished the first one on Saturday). I think there will be enough attendees that I can blend in and knit without disturbing someone, though of course I'll put it away if someone takes issue. But just think of how much sock I can get done if I'm able to work on it more or less all day!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Quick and Dirty and Pink and Fluffy

After my last spin, I was craving something that would be fast, so I pulled a braid of BFL out of the stash and started long drawing it (yes, I verbed it). I was so focused on finishing up Rainbow's sweater this week that I only got back to it yesterday, but I did finish up all the singles last night. I let them sit on the bobbin overnight and then, this morning, used my ball winder to make a center-pull ball so I could ply from both ends.

This afternoon, I sat down and plied it all. I literally just finished, so I haven't even skeined it yet, but I'm hoping to do that later this evening.

My long draw technique is not as precise as my short forward draw, so the finished yarn is a bit thick and thin and pretty much fuzzy all over. But I'm happy. This is just the kind of palate cleanser I needed (especially as I'm planning to start another fairly fine yarn sweater spin soon), and it was very satisfying because I think it took a total of three spinning sessions to do the singles and one to ply.

I'm debating about whether or not to start something new, given that the Tour de Fleece starts in less than two weeks; perhaps I will do another spin like this one to bust some more fiber stash.

While I was plying this afternoon, I was multitasking. Thanks to Kat's link on Friday and a big box of good-looking strawberries at the market today, I thought it was the perfect time to make some Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Jam.


and after:

I think this might be my topping for my daily oatmeal this week!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

For Want of a Sleeve

I thought I was setting myself a rather lofty goal when I decided to try to finish Rainbow's Little Boxy before she got back from camp. As it turns out, I had much less left to knit on it than I'd realized, and thanks to several evening of undivided knitting time, it's now nearly done -- all that's left to do is the second sleeve.

I knit all of the first one last night, after I had finished weaving in the remaining ends from the body and the neckline. Sadly, I then had only about 10 minutes left before my usual bedtime, so I didn't even attempt to start the second (picking up a precise number of stitches is never a fast process because I usually have to do it three or more times before I get it right). I'll at least get a start on it tonight -- I'll be out looking at bridesmaid dresses with my future sister-in-law for part of the evening, so I won't get as much time as normal. Even so, I'm pretty confident that this sweater will be done before I go to bed tomorrow night, and I am thrilled about that.

After my last reading post, I did indeed finish the Inspector Gamache book (and gave it five stars). I also read a short but powerful book around the same time: When Breath Becomes Air. It had been on my want to read list for a while, and I saw that there was no wait for it at the library. In the end, I read the entire thing in a day. It's a very moving and sad memoir; I cried at the end, mainly at the thought of what Kalanithi could have done had he lived a full life. And it made me think a lot about life and death and how to make the most of our time on earth. It's a heavy book, to be sure, but one that's worth reading. And it fills the "Originally Published Posthumously" square on my bingo card.

My current read is The Goldfinch, which I've been wanting to read for some time. My mother had it in hardback when we were in Florida a few years ago and was reading it, and she said she'd lend it to me when she was done and then apparently lent to it a friend first. But I found it from the library with no wait, so now I just need to try to finish it before the loan is up -- it is more than 700 pages long! It'll fill my More than 500 Pages square on my bingo card, and I'm finding the writing quite good (though I'm finding the story to be quite depressing). I'm about 40% through it and hope to make a decent dent in it this weekend.

We've got a relatively quiet weekend ahead, the only one we'll have with Rainbow away. We have  a nice dinner out planned for Saturday evening, but other than that we don't have anything on the schedule. The weather is supposed to be nice on Saturday, so I'm hoping to get out for a run and generally be outside after a week when it's been rainy and gloomy pretty much nonstop. The rain has been good for all the plants, though, so I expect at least some of my time will be spent in the garden, pulling weeds!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fessing Up

I have a confession to make: I bought yarn. I am supposed to be on a yarn and fiber diet, and yet I bought some yarn. But I don't feel too bad about it, to be perfectly honest. I have been successfully knitting from my stash for a while now, and in addition to using yarn up that way, I sent six skeins of DK yarn off to someone else this weekend as a prize for a knitlong (it was a sweater quantity of a Madelinetosh yarn that I had one in the same event a couple of years ago, and I was never going to use it, so I offered it up as a prize). I also have a plan for the yarn in question, which arrived yesterday:

This set of six skeins of DK is a Serendipitous Sweater Kit from Fibernymph Dye Works; Lisa only recently started offering up sweater sets, and after seeing a Ravelry/Instagram friend knit up a Bubble Sweater with one of these sets, I just had to make one. I'm not casting on just yet, but I expect I will soon, as soon as the current sweaters are off the needles.

About those current sweaters? They're moving right along. Rainbow's Little Boxy, in fact, is getting very close to being done!

I've got about three rows total left to work on the back shoulders and then I'll be ready to the three-needle bind-off to join the shoulders. After that, all that's left is the neckline (which I'm thinking I might do first) and the sleeves -- and of course weaving in a bunch of ends, but I can probably take care of that in an evening. I've been knitting on this furiously the past two evenings, and I think I can realistically say that this WIP will be an FO before the week is out.

I also gave my Soldotna Crop a bit off attention over the weekend and am moving right along on the colorwork.

The colors are a bit more vivid in real life; unfortunately we're in a gloomy weather pattern this week, so the light is not ideal. I do like how my color swap worked out, though, so I'm plowing ahead.

In addition to the sweaters, I've got one new WIP, which I started on Friday morning thinking I'd have time to work on it during my orthodontist appointment first thing (it turned out that I didn't). But it did come in handy when we went to the movies on Saturday afternoon.

This was some FDW Bounce from a club shipment earlier in the year; the colorway is called Fairies' Dance. I'm doing a Non-Euclidian heel on these, but I'm trying a little twist (literally) in the form of some twisted ribbing on either side of the increase area. I'm curious to see if this changes the fit at all or if it's purely ornamental. In either case, it's something a little different and therefore quite engaging, and socks are always good for lunchtime knitting!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Sounds of Silence

Well, she's gone. We put Rainbow on the bus to camp this morning, and so for the next two weeks (well, the next 12 days, anyway), the house will be unusually quiet.

I did, however, get lots of extra time with her, including the entire day on Friday. I told her we could do whatever she wanted, which turned out to be watching a lot of TV (presumably in preparation for not being able to watch it for quite a while). That gave me lots of extra time at my wheel, and that enabled me to finish up my spin in progress.

I couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out. This skein combined two different batches of fiber (one Polwarth/silk, one Targhee/bamboo/silk) in similar colors. I created, in effect, a four-ply yarn by doing an alternating chain ply. This structure is a bit hard to explain, so bear with me here. To chain ply, you essentially create a crochet chain with long loops and add twist. This enables you to create a three-ply yarn from one single/strand. For an alternating chain ply, you still create the loops but also hold an additional strand alongside it, and you alternate which strand you grab to form the next loop. The finished yarn is fingering weight (which gives you a true sense of how fine my singles were!) and approximately 320 yards.

Though I have a lot of knitting to do right now, I do feel like spinning more on the weekends, so I almost immediately started a new project. I pulled out some BFL from Fibernymph Dye Works that I won as a prize sometime last year, I think, and decided to spin it all onto one bobbin and ply it back on itself for a quick-and-dirty two ply.

To make things even quicker, I'm spinning it mostly supported long draw, so my singles are a bit fuzzy. I feel like I've hardly spent any time on this, and yet I'd say I'm already two-thirds of the way done with the singles. Here is the gratuitous bobbin shot:

My spinning area also underwent a minor makeover this weekend, with some help from Rainbow. The utility cart I ordered arrived, so I took it as the perfect opportunity to clean up the area, throw some things away, and generally organize my spinning things. Now I have a neater corner, even if it isn't quite a cozy as it could be (that will come, once the new chair arrives).

Here's a close-up of the cart itself:

There are various tools and such in the top drawer, which has a removable cover that doubles as a surface for my miniSpinner to sit on, and all my lazy kates and extra bobbins fit in the other two. This purchase was worth every penny!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Counting the Days

It's Thursday, which means I have three more days with Rainbow before she leaves for two weeks at overnight camp. I know she's going to have a great time, and I know I'm going to enjoy getting a break from parenting, but I'm also dreading it because I know I'm going to miss her a ton. It seems appropriate that I managed to finish up something for her before she leaves.

I knit these shortie socks for her after she saw my Rose City Rollers and asked if I could make her a pair (how could I say no?). Because I was using leftovers and yarn supply would be limited, I opted to go toe up using the Fish Lip Kiss Heel template, adding in a smidge of extra length because it's been six months since I last measured her foot. I worked two inches after the heel and did a stretchy bind off to allow the cuff to roll. She was thrilled with them, as evidenced by what I saw last night when I poked my head in her room to tell her it was almost time for bed.

This is definitely my kid -- wearing handknits and reading!

Now that the socks are done, I've been stuffing the project bag with her sweater into my work bag so I can knit on it during the day as well as in the evening. I think I should get to the splitting point today!

Shall we take a look at my Summer Book Bingo card for an update?

I think it's filling up quite nicely! I haven't really thought about any strategies for filling it or getting a bingo; I'm pretty much just reading what interests me and finding a square to fill in that works. I believe I've finished one book since my last reading update, and that's in the square in the top right: All This I Will Give to You. It was a freebie from Amazon at one point, and it sounded interesting (and it is set in Spain, thus earning it that spot on my card). I ended up giving it three stars. It was a decent read, but it went on too long without really building to the climax, so I started losing interest about two-thirds of way through (but of course I was far enough along that I had to finish it).

Provided there are no emergencies at work today, I should finish another book during my lunch break. All this past week I've been listening to the audiobook of the second Inspector Gamache mystery, A Fatal Grace. I've rarely listened to audiobooks in the past because I have trouble staying focused, but I didn't have as much trouble with this one. I even listened to it while I was on a run last weekend, and I'm convinced that the run went so well because I was so involved in listening to the story that I wasn't thinking about how much I hate running! I got this one from the library and only went the audiobook route because the wait was a lot shorter than for the e-book. I think there were still some things that I missed because I wasn't looking at the printed page, but the narrator is excellent and overall I've really enjoyed it. I'm sure I'll listen to more in the series in the future.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Hop on the Bandwagon

I'm typically pretty good at sticking to my WIPs and not getting distracted by the new and shiny, but now I have to fess up to doing just that: I've just cast on a new project, a sweater for me, and as a result I'm now neglecting the projects that were already on the needles. And yet I don't feel too bad about it! Let me explain.

For a while now, it seems like everybody has been knitting the Soldtotna Crop sweater. I thought it was cute but wasn't too tempted -- until I realized that I had four skeins of DK that would work for it in my stash already (Yarn Hollow Tango, a Polwarth/silk blend, if you're wondering). And then I couldn't get the idea out of my head. So I gave in, dug the skeins out, and swatched. And on Sunday evening, I cast on.

I haven't gotten very far yet, and that's mainly because I ripped back a couple of times last night, first because I realized I'd used the wrong color for C3 (that's the mauve-y purple) and then because I just mixed up my colors in the pattern. I'm only eight or nine rounds into the colorwork, and I've already changed the pattern. The color I'm supposed to be using for C3 is actually a deep purple, but it's so close in tone to the dark blue I'm using for C1 that it would be impossible to tell them apart. So I'm substituting the lighter purple for most of the areas where the pattern would have had me knit in the dark purple in order to have the stranded pattern actually show up. I have plenty of yarn, so that's not an issue, and even though the contrast between the light purple and the light blue isn't very strong, it's certainly better than it would be if I were using the dark purple here.

I'm sure that a cropped sweater in DK yarn won't take too long, so I don't really view it as cheating on my other WIPs -- and I am using up stash yarn! I'm still plugging away at the other two projects on the needles, the largest of which is Rainbow's Little Boxy.

After working on it diligently most evenings last week, I'm now about an inch and a half away from splitting the body for the front and back yoke. I'll give it some additional attention tonight (I meant to knit on it some last night but got pulled in by the colorwork), and with any luck I'll get to the splitting point. Rainbow leaves this coming Sunday for two weeks at overnight camp, and I've gotten this crazy idea in my head to try to get the sweater done by the time she returns. I'd say that's an ambitious goal but not unrealistic, provided I can stay focused.

The other WIP is very close to being done and should be wrapped by tomorrow.

These are the toe-up shortie socks I started for Rainbow last week using the yarn leftover from my slouchy hat. The first sock was finished on Saturday, and the second is now about half an inch away from being ready for the heel. I'm fairly certain I'll have enough yarn to finish, as I think I had 42 g to start and the first sock used up 20 g. It will be close, though, so keep your fingers crossed that I don't have to play another round of yarn chicken!