Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Welcome to Sleeve Island

Even with all the activity of the crazy weekend, I did manage to get some knitting done (the nice thing about being around family is that they expect you to be knitting constantly while you sit around and talk). If you saw my Instagram post yesterday, then you already know this, but the body of my Rhinebeck sweater is done!

Last night I just got started on the first sleeve; I only got about 10 rounds done because I spent a good chunk of time crunching numbers for all the sizes and making adjustments so that there can be a round of colorwork just above the sleeve ribbing. Now I am on my way, and I'm hoping that the sleeves will fly. I know some people find sleeves to be boring and kind of a slog, but I actually don't mind them and find them to be relatively fast to knit. The total number of stitches is a lot less than what I had for the body, and obviously the rounds get smaller the farther along I get. Finishing up both sleeves this week might be a bit of a stretch, but I'm fairly confident that the entire sweater will be done by the end of the month. Very soon I need to find some time to focus and start writing up the pattern from all my notes and scraps of paper. There are only 32 days until Rhinebeck and I don't want to be rushing at the last minute!

My brioche hat is moving along as well and I should be ready to start the crown decreases at lunch today. I ended up working on it at the Lion King on Sunday, which perhaps wasn't the smartest of moves (I did make a couple of mistakes -- knitting brioche in the dark isn't for the faint of heart!), but it seems to have ended up okay.

My reading over the last week has been all about The Testaments. I'm generally only able to read a handful of pages a night before bed, and I am savoring it -- it is so good. As luck would have it, I also just finished up the second season of The Handmaid's Tale TV series, and I see enough similarities between the new book and some some elements of the series that I'm fairly certain Margaret Atwood let a few details of the new book slip to the writers. I won't give anything away, but I will say that I've enjoyed both iterations of the fictional world of Gilead.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

More Done than Undone

It's been a very busy weekend, busy enough that I am still trying to get caught up, but in between all the running around I've managed to ply up my first Polwarth skein.

I could have fit more on the bobbin, but I'd rather have skeins that are similar in length than trying to see how much I can cram on one bobbin and I figured this was full enough. I have skeined it up but not washed it yet (I'll wait and wash them all at the same time), and it's a good-sized skein.

It's definitely in the fingering area now, but I'm expecting it to poof up quite a bit when washed, as Polwarth often does. I calculated what my yardage would be if I lost as much 20% (which is a lot) and I'd still get more than 400 yards, so I'm thinking I should end up with a decent amount of yarn if my other skeins are comparable!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

It Averages Out

My knitting this week has been, well, interesting. On the one hand, sweater progress is good. I tried it on last night before putting it down before bed and it's just about time to start the fun at the bottom -- I figure another half inch/four rounds should do it.

I realize what I'm wearing here isn't the best for showing where the sweater is hitting, so let me tell you that it's just above my hip bones. My ideal length for sweaters is about five inches longer than that, so that the bottom of the sweater covers my hips and the top of my rear (basically so that if I squat or crouch down, that part of my back just above the top of my pants stays covered). I'm going to knit those four additional rounds in the main color and then reintroduce the contrast color for one more band of stranded colorwork. That should measure roughly an inch and a half, then I'll knit a few more rounds of main color, and finally I'll finish the body with two inches of ribbing. Then it's on to the sleeves!

While the amount of knitting on the sweater has been going in the right direction, I'm unfortunately doing a bit of unraveling and tinking on my brioche hat. I've been working on it mainly during my lunch breaks at work, and sometimes during those breaks I get into a bit of a postprandial stupor (that's a fancy way of saying I start to nod off). It seems that I did that on Tuesday while somehow continuing to knit, though not completely successfully. When I pulled out the hat yesterday, I discovered that I had dropped a couple of stitches and they had unraveled several rounds. I tried fixing that section twice, but even after those attempts, I still wasn't happy.

I don't think I worked the strands quite in the right order when I reknit up the problem areas, so even though the tension issues would have worked out eventually, you'd still be able to see the mistakes. And for a pattern sample, that won't do. So in my bit of knitting time this morning, I started undoing everything from the mistakes up. I probably should have done that from the get go yesterday when I found the dropped stitches, as by now I'd probably have reknit everything I frogged, but I suppose if I'd been able to fix it without ripping that would've saved me some time. What's done is done, though, and I'd rather it be right that close enough.

The weekend ahead is going to be a busy but fun one. Saturday is the bridal shower for my brother's fiancee, and several family members are coming in from out of town -- my aunt and uncle from Michigan and my other aunt and one of my cousins from Chicago. The shower is a brunch on Saturday morning, and then we'll have dinner with all the family Saturday night. On Sunday, the Mister and Rainbow and I are headed to see the Lion King (the stage show) with a bunch of friends. I'm excited for Rainbow to see it and to see it again myself -- the first time I saw it was in New York City when I was in college and my parents and brother met me there to celebrate my 21st birthday. (I should also add that I'm looking forward to seeing it again because the first time I was a bit hungover from having my first legal drink on an empty stomach earlier in the day!) I hope your weekend has some fun in store for you!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Get the Memo

I know that technically fall doesn't start for another couple of weeks, but mentally I am already there. We've had some chilly mornings (which have been very welcome) and leaves are starting to change, so I've definitely been in the mood for sweater knitting. That has meant some good progress on my Rhinebeck sweater.

I did not have a chance to take a modeled shot this morning (I had an early orthodontist appointment before work), but the body is now hitting just above my belly button and the fit continues to be good. You may be able to guess from the yarn butterfly near the bottom that I've just joined in a new skein, the third one. While I don't think I'll avoid yarn chicken anxiety altogether, I'm feeling a little better about having enough yarn. Even if I use up all of this skein and need to break into a fourth to finish the body, I figure that a skein and a half should be plenty to do the sleeves.

I've been working on the sweater this week while rewatching Downton Abbey episodes in anticipation of the movie coming out later this month. Stockinette in the round is perfect for binge watching!

Meanwhile, my lunchtime knitting has been my brioche hat in winter precipitation forecast-inspired colors. That, combined with the sweater knitting, has been making me laugh this week because starting today we're in for a bit of of a heatwave -- the heat index is supposed to hit something like 91F tomorrow!

I'm not quite ready for the winter, but I would like Mother Nature to get the memo that it's supposed to be cooler, at least cool enough for a sweater in the morning!

I haven't been reading a ton since I finished Mr. Rochester last week, but I did start How to Be Less Stupid About Race over the weekend. I am reading a hard copy, which means a handful of pages a night, so this is likely be a longer-term read -- and that's good, because this is a book I want to read slowly and thoughtfully. Yesterday I started an e-version of Once More We Saw Stars; I got lucky with a "jump the line" copy from the library. If today isn't too busy, I expect I'll be able to read the rest of it, and that would be perfect timing because I'm expecting my preordered copy of The Testaments to arrive today. I've been watching the second season of The Handmaid's Tale series via Netflix the past couple of weeks, and I'm really interested to see where Margaret Atwood takes the story.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Whoa, We're Halfway There*

This weekend, I really tried to make up for lost time at my wheel. Yesterday was a day free of obligations -- yes, there were the typical weekend chores to do, but I had no social plans and had the day almost to myself. I went for a run in the morning and then came home to a leisurely breakfast while the Mister took Rainbow to a friend's house and then took my car in for some service. In between loads of laundry and cleaning the bathroom, I dutifully sat at my wheel, determined to finish spinning the last of my Polwarth singles before the day was done. By the time I went to bed, I had done it.

The last bobbin I finished is the one on the far right, and while it's likely hard to see, it's just ever so slightly less full than the other two. I think that's actually pretty impressive when you consider that I just eyeballed it when spinning up the three bobbins. The smarter approach would have been to divide up the fiber ahead of time, but I guess I was so eager to get started that I didn't think of it. But all's well that ends well, and these look even enough to me.

The singles rested overnight only because I couldn't wait to start plying this morning.

The blending is happening exactly as I'd hoped, meaning that I should get some pretty subtle striping when the yarn is knit. And it's plying up very nicely. The plied yarn looks to be about fingering weight, but because this is Polwarth and Polwarth is famous for poofing up when washed, I'm hoping that the finished yarn will end up being closer to sport weight.

I've now filled about half a bobbin, maybe a little less, with plied yarn, and in theory, because I have three bobbins of singles, I should end up with three bobbins of plied yarn. I'm feeling a bit of time pressure on my Rhinebeck sweater, but I'm hopeful that I can make some time during the week for spinning to get at least one skein finished. Next weekend will be busy, with family visiting from out of town for my future sister-in-law's bridal shower and then a performance of the Lion King, so there won't be much spinning time then. But I am anxious to finish up this project after so many months!

*Sorry not sorry for the earworm -- I am a child of the '80s, after all.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Three Things This Thursday

I had a dentist appointment first thing this morning, so I dropped off my work bag and lunch at the office (it's on the way to the dentist's office) and then walked the rest of the way because I didn't see any buses headed that way. It was really the perfect morning for it: The sun was out, the sky was clear, and it felt decidedly like fall -- I actually needed a light sweater! And as it's Thursday, I've got three more things to share that are making me happy.

1. New knitting projects in waiting
Today also marks the official start of the NFL season, and while I don't care about that too much (I'm just a casual football fan), I do care that it means the start of the annual Down Cellar Studio Podcast Pigskin Party, which is a months-long KCAL that runs concurrently with the football season. Jen's KCALs are always a lot of fun, and I enjoy the camaraderie of making things and chatting with the other participants. I've been wanting to cast on a couple of new projects, but I held back for a few days so I could count them for this. Last night Rainbow helped me to wind four skeins of yarn that will shortly be put to good use.

All four skeins are from Fibernymph Dye Works. The skein on the bottom left is on Bounce (fingering superwash merino/nylon) and will be cast on during my lunch break today for a new hat design. The other three skeins are all DK and came in a mystery grab bag that I bought from her a while back (I knew how many skeins and what weight they'd be but not what colors or bases). The two skeins on the right are going to become a Little Worsted Sock Arms for my nephew, with the tweedy green for the body and the self-striping for the arms (obviously). The skein in the top left of the photo is a one-of-a-kind colorway that was immediately claimed by Rainbow, and she's still deciding if she wants me to use it for a hat or a cowl for her.

2. Granny square all the things
While I was waiting for today to come, I didn't want to start on anything new for my lunchtime crafting, so I've brought in my granny square blanket to work on this week. This is being crocheted from several years' worth of leftover sock yarn scraps, and as I get to the end of one scrap, I just join it to the next with a Russian join. It's highly addictive and kind of all I want to work on at times.

I haven't measured it officially, but I'd say that the square is more than a foot wide at this point, and I still have quite a lot of scraps. My plan for this is just to keep going until I run out of yarn or I determine that it's big enough, whichever comes first. I have a few mini skeins that will likely be added in, and I'll be getting a mini skein Advent calendar thingy later this fall that I expect will also go into it.

3. Reading good books
After finishing up my last book for bingo, I went back to my library app to see which of the books I had tagged "to read" were available without a wait. The first one I found was When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. I believe I heard about it because several people I know have read it, and as I've been really trying this year to read books that will help me to confront my white privilege and help me to be a better antiracist, I'd added it to my list to be read. It was really a powerful book and a fast but not an easy read. If you're in any doubt of the reality of the United States being a very different place for people of color compared to whites, you need to read it. I gave it four stars

My current read is completely different. On another recommendation, I borrowed Mr. Rochester. I was fully sucked into this book almost from the first page. Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books, and thus it should come as no surprise that Edward Fairfax Rochester has long been one of my favorite brooding male love interests. I'm a bit more than halfway through the book and simultaneously want to devour the rest of it and not want it to end. It is superb. I'll reserve my official review until after I'm done, but at this point I think it will very likely be a five-star book for me.

I hope your Thursday is making you happy! I'm off to see what Carole and friends are up to today.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Autumn Ready

Labor Day weekend is over. Bring on fall! I'm all ready for it with a brand-new pair of bright and cheerful socks.

Pattern: Non-Euclidian, modified (see below)
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in Summer Fruit Tarte with unnamed contrasting mini skein
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: August 11/August 30
Mods: added twisted ribbing on either side of the heel increases; changed up the decreases after the heel turn

This yarn was the first shipment for Lisa's Just Desserts club, in which all the colorways will be inspired by a dessert recipe. This one, as you can probably tell from the name, was inspired by those yummy tarts made up of creme patisserie topped with most colorful summer fruits -- and even came with a recipe for such a tart! I haven't made the tart yet, but I couldn't resist casting on these socks right away.

Given the inspiration and the fact that the accompanying mini skein was crust colored, I just had to make my cuffs look like pie crust. I did a hemmed picot edging followed by one purled round and then about half an inch of 2x2 ribbing. That used a good amount of the contrast skein, so I used it again for the heel turn on both socks and striped it with the self-striping yarn for the toe. I did have some leftover when I finished the socks, but I think I still might have run out had I tried to do both toes in only the contrast.

As with my last pair of Non-Euclidians, I did the 1x1 twisted rib modification on either side of the heel increase section, but this time I also decided to try something a little different with the decreases after the heel turn. This photo (though it's a little blurry, having been taken by a 9-year-old with unsteady hands) shows the outcome.

When I'd finished all the increased, I dropped my working yarn and let it dangle. Then I slipped the ribbed stitches until I got to the increase area (though I didn't use markers because the ribbing visually marked the area for me, if I had I would have slipped stitches until I got to the first marker). I then attached the contrast yarn and worked my usual heel turn, which is less pointy than the Non-Euclidian turn. I cut the yarn at the conclusion of the turn and slipped those stitches to the right of it back to the left needle, so I was back to where my working yarn was waiting. Then I decreased the remainder of the stitches while working again in the round, and they were done using mirrored decreases toward the middle of the heel (ssk and k2tog) starting at each edge of the heel stitches/heel turn area. It's a bit hard to describe but easy to achieve. I was a bit worried about fit because the decreases in the pattern add additional length to the sole that's not added to the instep and thus I worried that the two areas wouldn't match up with this modification, but it seems to be okay. I will have to wear these for a while to see if I get any bunching up on the instep to know if the mod is good for sure.

After meeting my goal of finishing these socks by the end of the month, I was left with one main knitting WIP, and it's one that saw a lot of attention this weekend: my Rhinebeck sweater.

As you can see, I made significant progress. I spent several hours working on it yesterday afternoon while catching up on some podcasts, and I was able to complete the remaining rounds for the yoke, the short row shaping to raise the back a bit, the split of the arm and body stitches and about an inch of the body by the time I put it away. I have tried it on and am happy to report that it fits and seems to have the right amount of positive ease for the comfy sweatshirt-like fit I wanted. Now comes what some people would call the boring part, but I'm happy to have reached the stage where I don't have to think or count. I'll be knitting straight in the main color for a while, but there's more colorwork to come!