Tuesday, January 31, 2017

It's Always Something

Another day, another drama to deal with. This evening we got home and got Rainbow in the shower only to discover that our neighborhood (along with many others) is under a boil water advisory. So we are now drinking, cooking, and brushing our teeth with bottled water. Fun, right? So not fun.

In any case, it's been a long, busy day at work, and I'm eager to get to my knitting. I have one more round and a bind off and I'll be done with the fifth blanket square. Unfortunately it looks like I have to join a new skein of yarn for that little bit of knitting, but in the bigger picture, that means I should have no problem getting the last four squares out of two skeins of yarn. Assuming I don't need much to connect the squares (they're crocheted together), I may well end up with an untouched or nearly untouched fifth skein.

The squares are starting to get a bit monotonous, so I did cast on for a new project yesterday. It's a new design, and I can't reveal too much, but here's a little peek:


As you can probably tell, this is a little bit of stranded colorwork. It's a collaboration I'm working on with Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works; you saw the yarn when it arrived. There are actually going to be two versions of this pattern, in two different color combinations. Starting this project has really scratched the itch for some color knitting. For now, it's my lunchtime knitting -- mainly so I'll stay focused on the blanket. But I have a feeling it's going to take center stage sometime soon.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

An Ode to Neon

I am simply besotted with my current spin. I'm not sure if it's the fiber, the colors, or the combination of the two elements, but I am finding every moment of spinning it to be a pleasure. It's Targhee from FatCatKnits in a very bright colorway called Juicy Fruit, though it reminds me of highlighters.


The only two colors in the fiber are the pink and yellow, but I am getting a lovely peachy shade where the two mix together.


I'm also really enjoying spinning with the Akerworks bobbin. I had thought that my Lendrum was getting noisy and developing a shimmy, but it seems to be the WooLee Winder that was at fault because spinning with this bobbin is smooth and even, and I'm only occasionally getting a soft clicking noise from my treadles.

Meanwhile, the skein I finished up last week has been washed and dried, and it's just about perfect.


It hardly changed at all in the finishing, so it's a good fingering weight three ply that's just a bit more than 447 yards. I was hoping for a bit more yardage, but I spun using a worsted technique, so the yarn is probably a bit dense. I'm planning to pair it with the yarn in progress, and I think the neon colors will stand out well against the background of this natural cream.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Life in Squares

Another day, another blanket square on the needles. I'm about four and half rounds away from the border on my fourth square, and I'm hopeful I'll be able to finish it tonight (provided Rainbow is cooperative at bedtime). While the squares are still taking longer than I think they will to finish, I've found that I am getting a little faster as I gain more experience with the pattern. I still need to refer to the chart, but usually now it's quick glances rather than prolonged stares. We've got a much quieter weekend ahead of us, and I'm planning to take advantage of that to fit in extra knitting time.


Rainbow's sweater has grown a bit in the past few days, and I've added in the fourth color on the body. I've been doing the transition from one color to the next purely by eyeballing the remaining yarn in the old color, and I nearly didn't make it on this most recent transition. In true illogical knitter fashion, I knit faster when I saw that I was running out of yarn. It ended up being enough, with a good amount left to weave in, but I was glad I didn't try to squeeze in a couple more rows before starting the transition rows.


I'm still debating just how long to make this sweater. The size I'm knitting is a good size or two larger than what Rainbow is wearing now, and she's on the small size (for both height and weight) for her age. I do want her to have room to grow, but I also don't want her to be swimming in the sweater. I have a feeling we're going to be doing a lot of trying on as I finish up the rest of the body.

My Arne & Carlos socks have grown a bit, thanks to Rainbow having some difficulty falling asleep (her new shtick is that she appears to be asleep but then jolts awake as soon as I try to leave the room, so I have to sit back down and wait for her to drift off again). I'm not in any rush to finish these, but all the same it's nice to come out of her room and see that I've added to the length.


This weekend I have plans to wind some of the yarn that arrived last week and perhaps cast on for a new design. What's on tap for your weekend?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Time to Buckle Down

I don't know about you, but any time I've got a project planned with a deadline and I think "I've got plenty of time!" it always ends up being a mad dash at the end. I think that might be the case with the Sweet Gemma blanket I've been working on for my friend's baby. I purposefully did not take it to work on when we were away in December because I figured that I would start it as soon as we were back, and it was only nine squares, after all. I guess I neglected to factor in my interest in casting on new things and and my ability to get distracted, because I now find myself less than two weeks away from my friend's due date and I'm only just about to finish the third square. I am hoping that, given that this is a first baby, my friend will go a little past her due date so I can get a little more time (and of course I'm sure she won't mind if I don't give her the blanket right away -- especially considering she doesn't even know about it). But I'm also focusing much of my time and energy on getting this done.

I finished off the first skein of yarn and joined the second partway through this third square, and for the first time I used a Russian join (I've known how to do it for quite some time, but just never got around to using it) to avoid having to try to weave in two extra ends in the middle of all the patterning. I did not much like the appearance of it on the first round when I knit it in, but it did seem to blend in more as I knit a few more rounds (save a tail that's poking out some, but I'll just trim that later).


What I like about it is that I really was able to minimize the amount of yarn used in going from one skein to another; normally for this kind of thing I'd do a felted join for the same reason, but that wasn't an option this time because this yarn is a superwash. I think I may be able to get five squares out of the first two skeins of yarn, which means I'll likely get the whole blanket done using only four skeins, leaving me an extra to play with -- perhaps to knit a matching baby sweater.

Meanwhile, Rainbow's Dancing Leaves Cardigan has moved back into its lunchtime knitting position, at least for this week. I'm nearly through all the waist shaping and approaching the end of my third color on the body. The body is now about half the total final length. The sweater is going to be a bit large on her when it's done -- I'm making the size 8-9 -- but I'd prefer her to have some room to grow so that she can get a couple of years of wear out of it.


While the rows are long and do take some time, they are pretty mindless at this point. Once the waist shaping is complete, the only thing I need to pay attention to is the button bands, and they're pretty simple. I've peeked ahead at the sleeve instructions, and they have very little shaping involved, so they will be fast and easy as well. I'd really hoped to have this sweater done for the winter, but the fabric is so light that I think Rainbow will be able to wear it comfortably (even though she runs warm) through the spring and even maybe in the summer when there's aggressive air conditioning.

Though I really have no business casting on anything else right now, I started another pair of socks on Sunday. I've recently discovered that while I'm sitting with Rainbow as she falls asleep in the evening, I can knit (provided it's something I can do without looking) and read a Kindle book at the same time. I don't get a huge amount of knitting done this way, but at least on the nights when she's restless and I'm sitting there for a long time, I don't feel like I've wasted half the evening.


The yarn is one of the Arne & Carlos colorways from Regia that were hot for a while last year. I bought it from my LYS before they went out of business in a total impulse buy. I'm not a huge fan of the faux fair isle look, but I know that these will wear like iron. Now that I'm a little past the ribbing, the self-patterning is starting to show up a little. I'm not sure I really like the colors or the patterning just yet, so perhaps these will be knit and then used as a gift or donated.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a blanket sitting here that won't knit itself!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

So Sheepy

It's been a very busy weekend -- I attended the local Women's March yesterday morning, then we had Rainbow's birthday party in the afternoon, then she went to sleepover at my brother- and sister-in-law's while the Mister and I went out to dinner with his parents, and then today we had errands and chores followed by a lunch for my father-in-law's birthday and dinner with our new neighbors. All of that is a long way of saying that my spinning time was limited and done in fits and starts, and I didn't manage to finish plying up my Corriedale until this afternoon. But it is done!


Here's how the skein looked fresh off the niddy noddy (I only just put it in to soak a few minutes ago), so it looks a bit wiry from being freshly plied, but I'm already very pleased with it. It's in the heavy fingering weight range, provided it doesn't poof too much in the wash, and it looks like I'll have upwards of 400 yards. I was hoping for a bit more than that, given that this was 6 oz. of fiber, but I think my singles were not as fine as they could have been. I did, however, use up pretty much all of the singles. When the first bobbin ran out, I wound the singles on the remaining bobbin that looked more full into a center-pull ball and plied from both ends. When the second bobbin ran out, I chain plied from what was left. That was a bit tough, as there was quite a bit of twist in the singles and they kept tangling on me. I finally gave up and broke off the yarn, but I was left with only a very small amount, so I was pleased. The finished yarn looks like it'll have a nice round twist to it, and it smells so nice and sheepy.

I'm sure you're wondering what that bright colored fiber underneath the new skein is -- it's my current spinning project, which I started after I finished spinning the last bobbin of Corriedale singles. It's Targhee from FatCatKnits in a colorway called Juicy Fruit that I bought on a whim because it was so darn bright and cheerful.


I absolutely love spinning Targhee. It's hard to explain how it feels, but it has a lot of spring to it and you can tell even spinning the singles that the finished yarn is going to be poofy and bouncy. I'm also finally using one of my Akerworks bobbins for my Lendrum -- I think I bought them almost a year ago, but it's taken me all this time to use one. I really like it. It's definitely lighter than my regular bobbins, and the combination of that plus my regular fast flyer (instead of the WooLee Winder) has made my wheel noticeably quieter.

I'm spinning this Targhee into another fingering weight yarn, though this one will be chain plied to preserve the color progression. The plan is to use the two skeins together in a shawl, a new design idea. I have an image in my head, so it will be interesting to see if I can make it come out that way in real life. I know that however it turns out, it will be wonderful to knit with my own handspun again.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Can Totally Explain This

A rather large parcel of yarn arrived today. I know what you're thinking -- I'm supposed to be on a yarn diet, right? That means no yarn buying, doesn't it? Well, kind of. Let me explain.

My yarn diet is designed to achieve two objectives: reduce the size of my stash overall and save money so that I'll have some to spend at SSK this summer. I know it seems simple, but there are extenuating circumstances. For one, I signed up for a three-month yarn club from Fibernymph Dye Works in the fall, so one of the skeins in the package was the second shipment for that. Then, I happened to win the quarterly FDW drawing on Ravelry (pure luck, I tell you!), giving me a $25 gift certificate for the shop, so I splurged on a merino/cashmere/silk skein from a limited run Lisa was offering, and with the gift certificate, I really only spent a few dollars. Finally, Lisa and I have been planning a design collaboration for a while, so she sent me four skeins for a couple of samples that I'll be knitting up and then offering the pattern as a kit through her shop. She was kind enough to combine all six skeins in one package, and that's how I ended up with this pile of yarn.


I'm still working my way through stash otherwise, so I guess you could say I'm bending rather than breaking the yarn diet.

Speaking of using stash yarn, I've busted (most of) another skein with the completion of these rainbow-striped socks, just in time to wear tomorrow!


These are just my basic vanilla sock pattern worked over 70 stitches on size 0 (2.0 mm) needles. I used the Karbonz again, but I think I'll go back to my Addi Sock Rockets for the next pair, as the drag on the yarn was starting to get a little annoying. I did manage to get the stripes to more or less match, though I sort of wish I'd paid a little more attention to how the yarn was going to stripe so my rainbow sequence wasn't in reverse order going down the sock.

I should be able to finish up my PussyHat this evening (I was very close to being done when I had to put it down last night), so I'll be all ready for the Pittsburgh women's march on Saturday. I know a couple of people who will be there in hats, and if you will be there, keep an eye out for me in my neon pink!


We have a fairly busy weekend coming up, but the thing I'm looking forward to most is the grand opening of the new Knitsburgh Yarn Shop tomorrow evening! My friend Yvonne, who was previously the manager of my now-closed LYS, is behind this new venture, and I couldn't be happier for her. The new shop is a bit of a drive for me (which might make it less easy for me to swing by and buy more yarn), but from the teaser picks she's been posting online, it looks lovely. I can't wait to get inside see it in person!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Focus

While I really should be working on the baby blanket (the baby is due around February 3, so I don't have much time left), instead I'm finding myself focusing on projects with a message. The first is the rainbow socks, which you saw last week. I am cruising through the foot of the second sock, so I anticipate having a finished pair in the next day or two.


The other project is one you've likely seen on the news or on Ravelry -- a pussyhat. I'm not following a particular pattern, though I'm using this one (the original) as a guide. The pattern has you knit the hat flat and then seam the sides, but I much prefer to knit in the round, so I cast on 96 stitches and went with it. When it's the length I want, I'll use Kitchener stitch to graft the top together.

So bright no camera can capture it accurately

I'm using a skein of Universal Yarn Uptown Worsted that I had in my stash from a while back (I had bought two skeins and used one to knit a hat for when I run in the winter) in a positively eye-searing shade of neon pink. It's pretty much impossible to capture on camera, but it will serve the purpose of being very visible. I'm not able to attend the women's march in Washington, D.C., but I will be going to the sister march here in Pittsburgh.

While I was digging through the stash, I found some partial skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash that I'd used for a couple of sweaters for Rainbow:


Neither remnant is probably enough to make a hat, but I think I can manage enough if I combine them, so I will likely copy Kat and knit this stranded version so that Rainbow can have her own hat. It won't be quite as loud as mine, but then a 7-year-old probably doesn't need an obnoxious protest hat. I think she'll be happy to have something cute, and I'll certainly be happy to have removed more yarn from the stash. And if someone happens to see her wearing it and know what it is, then that's just fine, too.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It All Looks the Same

Spinning undyed fiber (and blogging about it) can get a little frustrating. Don't get me wrong -- I really like spinning undyed fibers. There's something very zen about it. All the same, it gets really hard to look like I'm making any progress in my spinning when all the bobbin shots look the same. I'm finally on my third and final bobbin of cream Corriedale singles, with the end in sight, but it looks pretty much like the first and second bobbin. So here's a shot of all three, for proof that I have actually spun up nearly all the fiber:


This has been a good project to work on while I've been working through my backlog of video podcasts (I generally watch them on my laptop while I spin, and as I was away from my wheels for two weeks, I didn't watch in that time and they piled up). Because I'm not having to manage color at all with this spin, I can pretty much go on autopilot with it. At this point, I've got about an arm's length of fiber left to spin, which I think should probably take me in the neighborhood of two hours or so to get through. I'm hoping I can find that time this evening and tomorrow, when we'll all be home, so that I can ply a little later in the week and get started on the colored fiber that will go with this.

I think it might be good for me to alternated dyed fiber with naturally colored fiber this year. I don't have a huge stash of undyed fiber, but I do have two fleeces that would be good to finally spin (one is even all prepped and already divided into 2 oz. bundles).

Thank you to those of you who expressed interest in buying my handspun! I wanted to let you know that I have started the process of opening an Etsy shop. I've got a shop name reserved, and I've ordered mailers and a pop-up lightbox, so now I just need to find some time to take photos and set up the listings. I'm hoping to have it up in the next few weeks!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Distracted by the Shiny and New

I was so hoping that I'd make great progress on Rainbow's sweater once I started taking it to work to pull out during my lunch breaks, but I got a wee bit distracted. Rainbow had a sleepover at her grandparents' on Saturday, so the Mister and I went to go see La La Land. I find it really hard to sit through a movie with nothing to do with my hands, so I grabbed a skein of sock yarn from the stash, wound it into a cake, and cast on. By the end of the movie, I had nearly 5 inches of a sock leg knit. And I'm so enamored with the stripes that I've swapped out Rainbow's sweater for these socks for my lunchtime knitting.


This is one of my favorite sock yarns, Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (a superwash merino/nylon blend) in the colorway Rainbow Riot. I've always loved rainbow stripes, and in fact I've got a cowl I knit from yarn spun from fiber in the same colorway that I bought from Lisa years ago. I'm hoping to get the socks finished up in time to wear on Inauguration Day -- I don't like to get into politics on a knitting blog, but suffice it to say that I am a proponent of kindness and inclusiveness, so I want to show that with my socks. I'm about half an inch away from the toe of the first sock.

I haven't been working on the sweater at home, either, as I've been spending the evenings I have been knitting working on the baby blanket. I've managed to finish one square thus far and the second is nearly done. I realize that they don't look all that great in their unblocked state, but I'm really liking the pattern.


The two squares will have used less than one full skein of yarn, and I have five skeins, so it's likely I'll have a little bit leftover, perhaps enough to make a baby hat to go with it. The squares are definitely moving along a bit faster as I've gotten used to the pattern, but I'm starting to feel a bit of time pressure to get it done in time (my friend is due toward the beginning of February, and I don't want to be madly stitching up to the last minute). Thankfully we do have a long weekend this weekend due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday -- all three of us are actually off -- and the Mister is planning to take Rainbow skiing on Saturday, so I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get in some extra knitting time and perhaps get an additional square or two done.

Speaking of this weekend, I wanted to mention for those of you in the Pittsburgh area that the Steel City Fiber Collective is hosting a pattern party this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. to celebrate the release of my Stitchburgh collection. I'll be there with all my pattern samples, so you can see them in person and ask any questions you might have. The collective also will have kits available to knit several of the patterns for those of you interested in a truly local knitting project. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pattern Re-release: Prairie Lace Shawl

Last spring, I had a shawl pattern published in the online subscription-based magazine I Like Knitting. I've had the rights back for a couple of months, but with all the work surrounding my Stitchburgh collection and then the holidays, it sat on the back burner for a bit. Today I'm very pleased to tell you that you can now buy the pattern in my Ravelry shop.

The Prairie Lace Shawl was inspired by a re-read I did over the course of the last year or so of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series. The books were much loved and read many times when I was little, but it had been years since I'd last read them. Many details I had forgotten over the years, but I was not at all surprised that my favorite parts were those involving crafting and making (I think I did gain a new appreciation for Almanzo's mother in Farmer Boy, however, when I read about her carding, spinning, and then weaving wool for their clothing). It wasn't surprising that, in making their clothes and accessories, the Ingalls girls were very thrifty and wasted nothing; fabric, after all, was expensive, and money was scarce. But what struck me this time around was how the women strove to make even the most plain and utilitarian items pretty by adding small details. I immediately thought of a shawl that was predominantly garter stitch but had a touch of lace.


(Incidentally, I think I should mention that when this pattern was submitted to the magazine, it had a different lace. The publisher changed the name -- a fairly common practice in the industry -- and I think it's quite fitting!)

This shawl is knit from the top down, starting with a garter tab. The majority of the shawl is knit like a regular top-down triangle, with four increases ever right-side row (at the beginning and end and on either side of the center stitch). Near the bottom, however, a lace panel is inserted that grows out from the center stitch, serving both to "pretty up" the garter and soften the lower edge at the center (great for those of us who prefer not to have our shawls point right to our bottoms). The shawl is finished off with a simple crochet edging -- and I promise you don't have to crochet to be able to do it! As long as you've got a hook and can use it wrap yarn and pull it through a loop, you'll be able to do this edging.

Matilda likes a little lace covering her assets

This sample was worked in Quince & Co. Finch, a fingering weight 100% American Wool. I haven't used many of Quince's yarns, but I'm a fan. This base is bouncy and round, so it makes incredibly squishy garter stitch fabric. I used a bit less than three skeins in the Sorbet colorway to create the sample. Of course, you can use any yarn you like (with something like a shawl, gauge usually isn't critical as long as you like the fabric you're getting and have enough to finish), but I liked the idea of using an American grown, processed, and dyed yarn for this shawl given its inspiration.

I'm excited to finally have this pattern in my Ravelry store, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

A Clean Start

It seems so arbitrary to use the start of a new year on the calendar as the starting point for a new project, but as luck would have it, I started 2017 off with empty bobbins on both wheels. I had many choices when it came to my first spin of the year, but ultimately I decided to start off the year with something simple: an undyed fiber spun into my default yarn. I'd inherited a bit more than 6 oz. of creamy Corriedale top from a friend who moved away, so I split it into three bundles of 2 oz. and began spinning a three-ply fingering weight. The first bobbin is done.


As much as I enjoy spinning dyed fiber, there is something to be said about spinning fiber that looks pretty much like it did when it came off the sheep. There's no worrying about colors blending in an undesirable way, so I can focus solely on the experience of spinning the fiber. I'm planning to pair this with some dyed fiber (which I'll spin up to a similar grist) for a shawl idea.

Meanwhile, when I've had enough of the cream and I'm craving color, there is new fiber to pull out. Both my Southern Cross Fibre and my FatCatKnits club shipments showed up while we were away. The SCF shipment (actually October's selection, but it took a long time to cross the ocean) is Charollais -- a new-to-me fiber -- in a colorway called Boil and Bubble. The colors are amazing, as always, and the fiber feels both spongy and toothy, not unlike Shetland.


The FCK shipment is BFL/silk, and the colorways are called Trigger and Twister. I would never think to put these two together, but I love them!


I believe I have one more shipment from both clubs before they go on hiatus for a bit, so I'll have a chance to get caught up. It would be great to make a good dent in the fiber stash in addition to the one I'm trying to make in the yarn stash.

And now I'm going to go start the second bobbin of my Corriedale while the chicken soup I'm making for dinner simmers on the stove.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Upping the WIP Count

Thus far I have been resisting the urge to cast on all the things. Rather, I'm trying to take a more measured approach -- I don't object to having multiple WIPs on the needles in theory, but I'm on a deadline for at least one project and want to make sure that I'm not distracted by the lure of new and shiny things.

At this point, I have two WIPs. The first is Rainbow's Dancing Leaves Cardigan, which is moving right along. Today I reached the beginning of the waist shaping and just joined in the third color (of five total).


Normally I wouldn't take a sweater to work for my lunchtime knitting, but so far it seems to be working pretty well. I'm no longer reliant on a chart, so the knitting itself is fairly mindless and I can get in several rows while listening to podcasts and generally trying to zone out. I'm sure I'll need to give it some attention during my evening and weekend knitting sessions if I want to finish it while it's still cold enough for Rainbow to wear it, but I am definitely in a groove with it right now.

The second WIP is the Sweet Gemma blanket, which I cast on last night. I made pretty decent progress after one false start (I knit a round or two with the tail rather than the yarn connected to the ball and had to tink back), and it's possible I'll finish up the first square tonight. (No photo because we're in the midst of a snowstorm and there is no light. Trust me, you don't want to see a picture of a blurry red thing.) I have a feeling that the knitting will get a little quicker once I get adjusted to the pattern, and the first several rounds are always a bit awkward and slow when you're working center-out. Rather than starting with DPNs and switching to circulars that are progressively longer, as recommended in the pattern, I'm using a 40 in. circular needle and working the entire square magic loop. I also went down a needle size (from a US 7 to a US 6) because my yarn is DK rather than worsted. I was a bit worried I was doing something wrong at first because my knitting didn't look right, but I think it was just a case of not having done enough yet. The pattern has really started to emerge, and a good blocking will do wonders, I'm sure.

I may cast on a third project this weekend. The Mister and I have talked about going to see a movie on Saturday, so I may need a pair of socks to knit. Of course, that will require pulling out the stash bins and digging for an appropriate skeins. I know I have a ball of Arne and Carlos Regia that I bought shortly before my LYS went out of business, but it's anyone's guess which bin it's in. Clearly when our renovation project is done and the stash can be returned to its room, I'm going to have to undertake a major reorganization project. With any luck, I'll have busted a good portion of stash by then and it won't seem so big a task.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

And So It Begins: New Year, New Knitting

After that wonderful long vacation, filled with many hours of reading, sleeping, sitting in the sun, and (of course!) knitting, it was back to work and school for us today. Fittingly, the weather was dark and rainy. I would have rather stayed at home in my comfy clothes with a cup of tea, a movie, and my knitting, but at least it was a relatively quiet day to get caught up because about a third of the people in the office weren't back yet.

Instead of getting gloomy over having to go back to the day job, let's talk about knitting, shall we? Shortly before the end of the year (and by that I mean about three hours before midnight on New Year's Eve), I finished my last project of the year, the socks you've see a few times here:


While these don't look all that fancy -- they are stockinette socks with ribbed cuffs and afterthought heels -- they were knit in quite a different way. I'm in the process of writing up the pattern and hope to have it available before too long. I will say that you need to enjoy Kitchener stitch to knit these, though chances are you do if you knit socks with afterthought heels.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the yarn, which I received in a swap package last spring. The base feels familiar (I have a feeling a lot of indie dyers use it), so that was nice, but my favorite thing about this yarn was the way that the stripes went from dark to light to dark again. Stripes are already rather potato chip-y to knit, but these subtle color transitions were even more so.

My first two projects of the new year were rather boring but useful: two new dishcloths for the kitchen. I had stuck a couple of balls of kitchen cotton in my suitcase just in case, and it turned out to be a good move. I cast on the first dishcloth just before bed on New Year's Eve (our last day away) and ended up finishing it on the plane ride home after I realized that I hadn't yet downloaded the Kindle book I'd planned to read. I promptly cast on for the second that evening and finished it up yesterday afternoon while I was cooking chicken soup for dinner.


The pattern is the ubiquitous Ballband Dishcloth, and the colors of Lily Sugar'n Cream I used were Kitchen Breeze and Strawberry. I reversed the colors for the second cloth and also added two additional stripes in an effort to use up as much yarn as possible. Seeing as I mainly use these dishcloths for wiping off the counter after I do the dishes, the larger size is actually quite useful. I've still got to weigh the cloth to figure out how much yarn I used for it, but it's rather satisfying to get two good-sized dishcloths out of two relatively small balls of yarn and still have some leftovers to use as scrap yarn.

I have, in fact, already put some of that leftover yarn to good use: holding the sleeve stitches for Rainbow's Dancing Leaves Cardigan. I split the sleeves off yesterday afternoon (right after finishing the second dishcloth), and now that I've moved to the relatively simple body, it's become my lunch break project.

Colors aren't at all accurate, but the flash wiped out all the cabling

I'm using just one ball of yarn at a time now (the other ball will be used for the sleeves), so there's less fiddling with strands every other row. I think this will move relatively fast now. There is a bit of waist shaping, but I have a good stretch before I get to that, so the only thing I have to remember to do is the buttonholes.

This evening I'll likely be casting on a new project. A very dear friend -- we've known each other since we were about 6 years old and were bridesmaids in each other's weddings -- is expecting her first child, a girl, next month, so naturally I felt the need to knit her a big present. Usually I knit baby sweaters and/or hats as gifts, but this friend deserves something a little bigger than that, so she's getting a blanket. I bought the Sweet Gemma pattern by my friend Triona Murphy when she released it in the fall and also splurged on five skeins of Yarn Hollow Tor DK in a deep red shade when my LYS was closing. Yesterday I wound it all in anticipation of casting on:


Although the pattern calls for worsted weight, I think this should work quite well, and I'm not too concerned it it comes out a bit smaller than it's supposed to (it's superwash anyway, so I'll bet I can stretch it out a bit if I need to). Here's hoping the squares knit up fast enough that I can finish before the baby arrives!