Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All the Little Things

Tomorrow is July, which means it's officially time for me to do some baby knitting for two babies that are due in the coming month. I probably should have started earlier, but at least little things knit up quickly.

On Sunday evening I cast on for the Boy Sweater in Malabrigo Rios. By the time I put it down for the night, I'd nearly finished the raglan increases. Fast, right?


I have two rows left to do before I put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and start working in the round for the body. I suspect this will be a very quick knit.

Tomorrow night is knit night, and I'm finally going to make it (the Mister has managed to be away or at a work event every knit night for the past two months or so). I'm planning on using the opportunity to cast on for the second baby sweater, which will be a Helena. I'm using some Knit Picks Swish that's been in the stash for quite some time (part of a couple of kits that I bought on clearance and soon realized I'd never make).


I figured white would be an okay choice for a 6-month-old, especially as she'll be around that age come the holidays. The yarn is machine washable, too, so it should be easy to care for even if it does get messy.

Meanwhile, I found myself winding yarn at about 9:55 Sunday night because I realized that I did not have a project on the needles to work on at lunch. I picked up a skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce that I bought a couple of weeks ago to start some new socks for me. These are going to be very bright socks indeed. The colorway is called Advance to Go; it's inspired by the colors of Monopoly. I can see how these stripes are going to get very addictive.


Why did I need a new lunchtime project? Well, it's because I finished the shawl! I managed to get it blocked and take some photos over the weekend, and here's a preview:


The pattern is now with my tech editor, so I hope to have it all wrapped up and ready for public consumption in the next couple of weeks. I'm really excited about this one!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ready for the Final Step

I had hoped to have a finished skein to show you today, but that anticipation was based on spending most of my day off finishing up the singles. That did not happen (I ended up spending the morning shopping with my mom, who also took the day off, and the afternoon finishing a shawl). However, I did finish the singles this afternoon, so I will be ready to ply once the last bobbin's worth have had time to rest a bit.


It's true the lighting isn't so great in this photo, but the top layer on the leftmost bobbins is dark gray, so it's not all a trick of the light. These three bobbins are holding at least 4 oz. of fiber -- isn't it amazing how little it looks on these giant bobbins?

I wasn't intending to start another spinning project right away, but one jumped on the Lendrum anyway. I will partially blame some friends who were over for brunch yesterday and were so interested in my spinning that I had to get it out and show them how it works. I already had my last club shipment from Fat Cat Knits unwrapped, so I grabbed one of the braids to get started. Then I figured as long as I'd started it, I might as well continue.


I'll grant you this would look a lot nicer if it weren't blurry, but at least you can get a sense of the colors. I'm finding this blend (80% Polwarth, 20% black alpaca) a little odd to spin; I think the fibers want to draft differently, so I feel a little out of control from time to time. I'm really enjoying how the black alpaca is changing the colors.

As if I didn't have enough lined up to spin during the Tour de Fleece already, my June shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club arrived on Friday. This is one I wish you could pet through the screen!


This shipment -- in a colorway very aptly named Peacock -- is a luscious blend of 50% South African superfine/50% mulberry silk. It is amazingly soft. I'm going to have to think long and hard about how best to spin this to keep that softness.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Short and Not-So-Short Rows

Once Rainbow's sweater was off the needles, I turned back to a somewhat neglected WIP, a sample for a new shawl design that you last saw about a month ago. I didn't work on it much after that last post about it, but I've really been knitting up a storm on it this past week, and as a result, it's nearly done.


This shawl is worked by starting with the bottom border. Then stitches are picked up along one side of the edging and short rows are used to create the body of the shawl. This iteration of the short-row section is actually the second; on the first attempt, I was using more stitches between wraps, and I quickly realized that the shawl was going to end up shallower than I had intended. I ripped back and halved the number between wraps and it's going much better now. Of course, the short rows go really quickly when they're actually short; now they take considerably longer. The nice thing is that the only thinking that's required is at the end of each short row, so for the most part it's just mindless knitting. I'm hoping to have it wrapped up by the weekend so I can block it (though the weather forecast is not looking too good as far as a potential photo shoot is concerned).

I do have some baby knitting to get started for two babies that are due next month. I'll be making 6 month-sized garments for both (I'd much rather make a gift that can be worn in the winter and thus actually stand a chance of being worn multiple times), so they should be fairly quick. The first one is a Boy Sweater in a lovely bright green Malabrigo Rios.


I have a day off from work tomorrow, so if all goes according to plan I will wind the yarn, swatch, and wash the swatch then so I'll be ready to cast on over the weekend. This sweater is for the second son of my childhood best friend. They now live in Colorado, so the kid will definitely need a cozy sweater.

The other sweater is for our next-door neighbors, who are expecting a girl. I'm planning to knit her a Helena, a pattern I knit for Rainbow and that she wore when we had pictures taken for her first birthday. It's a cute pattern and a fast knit, as I recall. I do have some Knit Picks Swish in the stash already and will have to see if I have enough of it; if not, there will be some yarn shopping this weekend.

One of these days I will get back to my Airflow. I only have about a sleeve and a half to finish, so really it should not take me very long, but you know how it is with the temptation of new projects. I definitely want to get it done before the end of stash dash, because it's likely to be my largest project completed and thus have the most yarn in it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ready for Berry Season

It's done, and it's adorable!


Pattern: Berry Season Cardigan by Heidi Atwood-Reeves
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash (100% superwash wool) in Berry Pink/color 837
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 4 (3.5 mm) circulars
Started/Completed: June 1/June 19
Mods: used a regular cast on and bind off instead of the tubular cast on and bind off specified in the pattern

This sweet little sweater was such fun to knit. Once I got past the initial bit of a mental block about doing the lace (including decreases) on wrong side rows, it was smooth sailing. I even learned a new thing -- how to do German short rows! I did try to do the tubular cast on at the beginning, but I failed miserably. I'll give it another go another time.


The sweater is completely seamless. It starts with the body, working from the bottom up. Once the underarms are reached, stitches are bound off and then the fronts and back are worked separately. The shoulders are joined with a three-needle bind off, and then stitches are picked up around the armscye for the sleeve. The sleeve cap is shaped with short rows and then the sleeve is worked in the round to the cuffs. There were quite a few ends to weave in, but there was no sewing up to do at the end.


Rainbow picked out the buttons herself at my LYS. I thought she'd go with something a little wilder, but it seems she is taking after her mother in her preference for simple neutrals.

I will say that my gauge was a little off (I think I had an extra quarter stitch per inch, or something like that), but I knew that, because I was using a superwash wool, the finished sweater was likely to stretch out a bit when I washed it (and it did). Plus, I made Rainbow a size 6 even though she probably could have fit into a 4. The fit is spot on now, and there's definitely room to stretch it out if we need to in the future.


The final say in the success of this project, though, belongs Rainbow herself. She is thrilled with it, so naturally I'm as happy as can be!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Flowers in the Courtyard

It took several plying sessions, but I finished my Three Waters Farm Falkland on Friday night.


It seemed to be taking quite a while to both spin the singles and ply, and I soon realized why as I was skeining the yarn -- there's a lot of yarn here! The plied yarn was a light fingering weight fresh off the wheel, but it poofed up a good bit in the finishing.


After drying, this skein is a whopping 455.5 yards, more than enough for a pair of stripey socks!

It's now a little less than two weeks until the start of the Tour de Fleece, and I'm going to try to squeeze one more skein in before then. There is a lot of fiber piled up next to my bed, but I selected Death (on superwash merino) from Into the Whirled. I'm nearly finished with the first bobbin.


I'm planning a three-ply fingering weight (my usual), and I simply split the top in thirds, so the finished appearance of the colors will be a complete surprise.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

In the Ribbing

Rainbow's sweater isn't done yet, but it's closer than it was the last time you saw it. I decided to spend Tuesday evening spinning, so I only worked on it last night. Still, that time was enough to allow me to finish the second sleeve and pick up for the first button band.


At this point, all the knitting that's left to do is in 1x1 ribbing -- not my favorite. I know it will look good when it's done, but I find it slow and somewhat tedious. I ended up picking up about four more stitches than specified for the first band, and as this is the one with the buttonholes, I'm going to have to make some minor adjustments with regard to their placement. If all goes according to plan, I will be able to buy buttons when I visit my LYS on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the socks are continuing (though they, too, missed out on some knitting time on Tuesday due to an unexpected lunch out with coworkers). I finished the heel of the second sock last night, so now I'm just cruising down the foot.


As soon as Rainbow's sweater is done, I have yarn ready for the next project to be cast on. There are two babies due to arrive next month for whom I want to knit. The first is the second son of my childhood best friend. The first son got this sweater, which I loved knitting but obviously couldn't knit again for the second kid (I figure #2 will be able to wear it as a hand-me-down anyway). So I decided on the Boy Sweater for this one, and I'll be knitting it in this lovely springy green Malabrigo Rios:


I'm planning to knit a 6 month size, as the kid should be right around that size (or so I hope) when the weather gets cold enough to need a sweater. I should have plenty of yarn to knit a hat to go with the sweater as well. If Rainbow's sweater does indeed get done this weekend, then I'll soon be swatching!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Getting Close

For a while it seemed like I was in the black hole stage on both my active projects. You know, that point when you feel like you're just knitting and knitting but not making any progress? Fortunately, I seem to have gotten past that and am now approaching the end.

Rainbow's Berry Season Cardigan is getting very close to being done. I'm almost ready to start the ribbed cuff on the second sleeve, and all that remains once the sleeve is done are the button bands and the collar. I'm fairly confident in saying that this project should be off the needles by the end of the week.


I'm really pleased with how this is turning out, and I feel like I've learned a few things along the way. The body of this sweater is worked in one piece to the underarms; then the fronts and back are worked separately. The shoulder seams are joined using a three-needle bind off. Then stitches are picked up around the armscye and the sleeve cap is worked using German short rows. This was my first time using this short row method, and I really like it. It seems less complicated to me than short rows using wraps. One thing I have skipped on this pattern, though, is the tubular cast on and bind off. I tried the cast on and failed miserably, so I just did my normal long-tail cast on instead. I'm doing a bind off in ribbing to match. I'm sure I'll give the tubular method a go another time, but this time it just wasn't right.

My socks, meanwhile, are about 75% done. I got nearly all of the leg of the second sock done during the several hours I spent in the car over the weekend, and thanks to lunchtime knitting and knitting while I put Rainbow to bed last night, I'm now almost through the heel flap and gusset increases.


When these socks are done, I'll be ready to cast on for another pair with a skein of yarn that showed up on Friday.


This is more Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce, the same yarn I'm using for the socks that are on the needles. The colorway is called Advance to Go, and it's inspired by the colors in Monopoly. This colorway has an eight-stripe repeat, so I think they'll just be plain vanilla socks. I have a feeling that they will be hard to put down because of the stripes!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Spun Like a Monet

It's been a crazy weekend. I've barely been home, let alone had time to craft (I totally failed as a knitter by not knitting in public for Worldwide Knit in Public Day), but I managed to get a few moments in between chores (read: while I waited for laundry to be done and the bathroom to dry after I cleaned it) to finish spinning up the last of the singles of the Three Waters Farm Falkland. The colorway is called Courtyard Flowers, but frankly the colors make me think more of Monet's Water Lilies, especially on the bobbin like this.


Now that the singles are spun, it's time to chain ply, though I'm not sure yet if that will happen tonight or some other night.

There's plenty of fiber waiting in the wings, and even more this week, as two more packages showed up. First, I received an order from Into the Whirled that I placed a while ago as part of the Mega SAL on Ravelry. This is Death (really, that's the colorway name!) on superwash merino:


The plan is to spin this into my usual three-ply sock yarn -- then I can knit Socks of Death! This fiber even came with a tiny sample of some merino/silk to try out:


Then, on Friday, I got my final shipment from the Fat Cat Knits Mixed Blessings club for the "transformations" theme. Every shipment has a choice of two fiber blends, and I decided to reach a little outside my comfort zone this time with a blend of 80% Polwarth/20% black alpaca. I really wish you could pet this fiber through the screen!


The colorways this time around are called Storm Surge (the more colorful braid) and Blissful Calm (the one that's shades of blue), and they're meant to represent stormy waters and a smooth sea respectively. I'm fairly certain I'll choose the easy way out and do a two ply with these, with one ply of each color. Or perhaps I'll spin each separately so I can do another two-color brioche cowl (can a girl have too many of those?). Or perhaps I'll change my mind several times. I suppose I'll just have to pet the fiber until I figure it out.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Onward

And now we return to our regularly scheduled knitting, already in progress.

I have been making great progress on Rainbow's Berry Season Cardigan, which has been my main evening knitting project this week. All that's left to knit on the body is the remainder of the right front, and that will be completed this evening (and in short order, too, because I think I have less than a dozen rows left to do). Then I will join the shoulders with a three-needle bind off and start in on the sleeves.


I'm really liking how this is knitting up, and I think it's going to be really cute on her when it's done. I'm hoping that my bit of a gamble with the gauge works out for the best; I ended up being just slightly off on gauge (off in a way that would make the sweater smaller than it should be), but given that my daughter is smaller than the specified finished measurements for this size and that I'm using superwash wool, I think it should be okay. I'm planning to stretch the sweater out just a tad when it's blocking, mainly to open up the lace sections, but that should help out should a little more room be needed.

Meanwhile, thanks to lunchtime and a bit of weekend knitting, I finished my first sock in the Fibernymph Dye Works yarn:


Usually when I knit with self-striping yarn, I feel a compulsion to make the stripes match in both socks, which can be a not-so-great thing when the stripe sequence is long. With these socks, I was trying to convince myself that it would be okay if I didn't manage it. The stripe sequence is only four stripes long, but because I'm using a smaller needle and knitting a larger size than I typically would with a fingering weight yarn, that means I'm using more yarn per sock than I normally would. Fortunately, to my great relief, I was able to make it work. I finished Kitchenering the toe of the first sock last night using the color of the stripe right before the one I'd used to start the sock (I actually started casting on at the spot where the color changed), and when I weighed my leftovers, I had more than 50 g left, so I should be fine for the second sock and probably even have some leftovers.

Tomorrow I'm taking a day off from work (it's one of the days that I'll lose at the end of the month if I don't take it), and other than a follow-up appointment with the periodontist in the morning, I'm planning on spending the day with my knitting and spinning. We have a busy weekend ahead, so my goal is to get in as much relaxation time as possible.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Surprise Patterns!

As much as I hate keeping a secret, I do love a good reveal -- and I get to do one today! I have two new patterns to share with you that have been in the works for many months. It's been hard to sit on this one, I'll admit.

Way back in November, when Rainbow came down with the first of many illnesses of this past year and I was home with her, I decided to knit up a hat for her. I had an idea for a slouchy hat with a little inset detail, so I pulled out some stash yarn and started knitting. The prototype came out so cute that I decided to submit it to a magazine, and of course I was thrilled when it was accepted!

Now, lest you think it was as easy as that, I will say that there were a number of complications along the way. The magazine, Knit Now, is based in the UK, as is the yarn supplier. There was a delay in getting the yarn to me across the pond (and it arrived just after Rainbow had recovered from her second illness of the year but when I was home apparently suffering from the same thing). Then the editor broke her leg and was working from home for a while, so there were a lot of e-mails and files going back and forth. In the end, though, it was definitely worth it, and I'm thrilled to finally be able to talk about these patterns.

The Hermia Hat, the original design, is a slightly slouchy topper that starts with a twisted ribbing brim. The ribbing flows organically into the inset detail, which is meant to look like a small tree that can be seen through a window or archway.


The hat is graded for three sizes (child, adult small, and adult large), and the level of slouch is entirely customizable -- you can add length if you want more slouch or start the decreases sooner if you want more of a beanie-style fit.

I also made some fingerless mitts to match, which are also available in three sizes:


The yarn I used for both samples is Eden Cottage Yarns Titus 4 ply, a really delightful 70% merino/30% silk fingering weight. It has lovely drape and, as you can see, great stitch definition.

As exciting as it is to share these two patterns, you know what's even more exciting? They made the cover the of the magazine!


If you're interested in getting your hands on a copy of the magazine, you can order a hard copy here or get a digital copy by downloading the app here. If you're interested in just the individual patterns, please know that I'll be publishing them in my Ravelry store as soon as I get the rights back, so look for them in the fall.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Influx

In spite of my recent spinning productivity, I fear there may have been more fiber coming into the stash than going out in the past few weeks. Part of that was because of a Fat Cat Knits order I made in anticipation of the Tour de Fleece, which starts in less than a month. As one of the teams I signed up for is the FCK team, and I had no FCK fiber on hand after finishing the last club shipment, it seemed only logical to order some more.

First are two custom blended tops. The first is merino with a bit of sparkle and is called Ice Princess:


The other is all merino, and it's called Shock & Awe:


My intention is to spin these both separately but then use them together in something for Rainbow. I just have to decide if I want to do a two- or three-ply yarn with them.

The last bit of fiber in that order was this day's end braid in Xavier on Falkland:


I'm going to split this one up into light and dark colors and then spin two skeins of three-ply fingering for some stranded colorwork.

Finally, my May Southern Cross Fibre club shipment arrived about a week and a half ago. This month's offering is Shetland, and the colorway I got is called Lei Day.


I'll be spinning on the Southern Cross Fibre Tour de Fleece team as well, and right now I have three unspun batches of fiber. I will be one busy spinner next month, that's for sure!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Bobblelicious

Now that it's June (seriously, though, how is it already June?!), it is time to work on some new projects. I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but in addition to Stash Dash, I'm participating in the 90% Knitting podcast Alphabet KAL. This KAL is running through September. Each month has a range of letters in the alphabet, and you can get up to four points for knitting (or crocheting) a project that has elements that begin with a letter in that range: one point for the name of the pattern, one point for the yarn company name, one point for the colorway name, and a bonus point if you can get all three. If all goes according to plan, I should get at least eight points this month.

First, I'm knitting a Berry Season Cardigan for Rainbow. I'm using Cascade 220 Superwash in a shade called Berry Pink. After a couple of false starts (it seems the tubular cast on and I are not meant to be friends yet), I've managed to get through the bottom ribbing and complete one repeat of the charts.


Originally I wasn't going to do the bobbles on the back (mainly because I find them tedious and also not that attractive in the finished garment), but then I realized that there are only three of them in each 12-row pattern repeat and they will use more yarn. More yarn is better for Stash Dash! The pattern is taking a bit of thinking because there is lace patterning on both right side and wrong side rows, but it's getting more intuitive as I go along and I think I'll soon be breezing through it.

Meanwhile, I cast on for a new pair of Diamond Divide Socks for me (because I usually don't wear my samples in order to keep them nice) in Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Doubletree. I wasn't 100% sure about these colors when the skein came in the mail, but now that I've started knitting it up, I love them. I think my favorite part is that the colors in each stripe are actually semisolid, so there's just the subtlest amount of variation in tone.


I'm changing up my own pattern here a bit and knitting these at a tighter gauge than called for in the pattern because I know how my calloused feet tend to wear through socks. I'm using a US 0/2.0 mm needle to get a gauge of 9 stitches/inch, so I'm knitting the medium size to get a finished sock that's actually a small. Math can be fun when it works out!

Just a reminder that my shawl patterns are all currently on sale for 20% off with the code shawlforall and the knitalong has officially started in my Ravelry group! I do hope you'll come join us!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Pattern Release: Diamond Divide Socks

If you are an enthusiastic sock knitter like me, then you know that a big trend in sock yarns right now is self-striping yarn. These yarns are fun and addictive (you keep wanting to knit just one more stripe!), but unfortunately they don't always play so nicely with patterning. Anything too elaborate can get lost very easily in the stripes. So for this sock pattern, I set myself a challenging: Come up with a pattern that's engaging enough to keep a knitter interested but not so busy that the pattern is obscured by the stripes. I think I've succeeded with these socks.


These socks are knit from the cuff down. The leg is fairly traditional, but once you hit the point where you're ready to start the heel, things start to get interesting. While still working in the round, you simultaneously work a slipped-stitch heel flap and gusset increases in the form of the top of the diamond on the instep. After the heel is turned, a flap is worked along the bottom of the foot to decrease the extra stitches, and then the diamond is completed on the instep before working the toe. The ribbing in the diamond on the instep keeps the fabric snug against the foot.


May I gush about this yarn for a moment? This is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce, an 80% superwash merino/20% nylon blend. The colorway is Good and Plenty, but I'd encourage you to check out Lisa's shop because she had a ton of gorgeous self-striping colorways. This yarn has a bouncy twist, as you'd expect from the name, and it gets so nice and soft when you wash it.


The socks are written for three sizes: adult small, medium, and large, to fit a foot circumference of 8 (9, 10) in./20.5 (23, 25.5) cm. The pattern is fully charted and has full written equivalents for those charts.

I hope you have as much fun knitting these as I did! In fact, I'm getting ready to cast on another pair for myself (in another of Lisa's colorways) during lunch today.