Tuesday, February 27, 2018

On the Podium

As you may have already guessed from the title of this post, I did indeed finish my Ravellenic Games project -- just barely!

Pattern: Helenium by Amanda Scheuzger
Yarn: Knit Picks Simply Wool Worsted in Wendy, 5.32 skeins, and Chroma Worsted in Lupine, 0.54 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: February 9/February 24

I worked on my sweater nearly the whole way to our destination on Saturday (I couldn't work on it for the first 30-45 minutes or so because we left so early that it was still dark). One of the group ended up not being able to come, so I was able to spread out a bit in the car and not have to worry about elbowing my fellow passengers while I knit. I took a brief break when we arrived for the baby shower but pulled my knitting out again later in the afternoon and then stayed up later than usual (I didn't go to bed until after 11!) to finish it Saturday evening when we got to our hotel.

The finishing was not without a bit of drama, unfortunately. In my rush to get out the door on Saturday morning -- I got up at my usual time and didn't have any caffeine until we were already on the road -- I forgot to grab my notions bag, so I didn't have any tapestry needles with me to do all the finishing. That meant I had to fudge things with what I had on hand, so really all I did was try to do the grafts on the needles, using a spare needle to pull the yarn through, and tuck the ends inside rather than fully weaving them in. It felt a bit like cheating, but as my mother said when I mentioned this, I would have done everything completely if I'd had my tapestry needles with me, so really I was just making do with the resources I had. When I got back from the trip yesterday, I undid all the messy grafts and redid them properly as well as wove in all the ends -- fixing everything after the fact, I suppose.

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, and feel like I learned a lot about brioche by knitting the two-color yoke. There were a couple of rounds that were challenging, particularly one of the last rounds, which involves a 4-into-1 decrease, but overall it was much easier than I was expecting. I foresee a lot more shaped brioche in my future!

As to the yarn, I really cannot say enough nice things about Simply Wool. It's a great workhorse yarn that reminds me very much of Cascade 220 (but at a better price!). Every single one of the skeins I received was a bit overweight, and I actually ended up with one skein completely untouched and one mostly unused, so I have a good amount left to do something with. I have a feeling that the next time I need a basic worsted weight wool, this will be the first yarn I think of. Judging by the supply Knit Picks seems to have, it's been a very popular yarn line, and I hope it's one they'll continue and perhaps expand (maybe they'll do some dyed colors in the future?).

The Chroma worked well as far as color effect is concerned, but next time I do two-color brioche, I won't be working with a yarn that's a soft-spun single. Most of the frustrations with the process had to do with the yarn snagging, sticking, or pilling, and I found myself twisting an awful lot of the Chroma as I prepared to knit with it because it seemed to be falling apart. I know that's an expected hazard when you're working with a yarn like this, and I think it was worth it in this instance for the fantastic slow color change, but I doubt I'd do it again (although Rainbow now wants me to make something for her with the leftovers, so I may have to eat my words).

I am really, really happy with how this project turned out, and frankly I'm very proud of myself for getting it done. For a while there, I was really doubting that I'd make it, but now it's officially tied for the fastest sweater I've ever made (the last one I made this fast was this sweater that I was knitting for a test knit -- and it was certainly an easier knit). I definitely challenged myself with this pattern, and not just in the amount of time I had to complete it -- and I think that was pretty much the intended purpose of doing the Ravellenic Games in the first place. I am bit bummed that our weather seems to be headed toward spring and I likely won't get many opportunities to wear this sweater before I have to pack it away for the summer -- because it's very thick and cozy, perfect for more typical winter weather -- but I have zero regret about making it. It's really a spectacular piece (and that's a comment on the design, not my ability in executing it), and it got commented on by everyone who saw it over the weekend, the vast majority of them nonknitters. Even if I don't get much wear out of it this season, it'll be so nice knowing that I have a real statement piece in my wardrobe to wear to knitter-centric events where it will really be admired.

Friday, February 23, 2018

We're Down to the Wire

Time is quickly running out on my Ravellenic Games project, but I am giving my best Olympic effort to get my sweater done in time. Last night I finally started the two-color brioche yoke, a section that is only 40 rounds long but yet is likely to be the most involved section of the entire sweater. I only got 11 rounds completed last night, in large part because I messed up on the first complicated round (the first round with shaping) and had to tink back at least twice. But now it is moving along.

It turns out that the increases and decreases in this yoke pattern are much more intuitive than I would have expected. The challenge is simply remembering which one to use when and counting stitches consistently. As you can see in the photo, I'm using stitch markers between every repeat so that I don't have to count numbers that are two big. It also makes it much easier to see where the mistake is when I mess up, as I did last night.

Although the Chroma Worsted I am using is a bit fussy to work with (as any single-ply yarn would be), I am loving how the colors are gently transitioning, and I think I will end up with a little bit of all the colors in the skein in the finished yoke.

I will be working more on this tonight, of course, but I expect I'll be knitting to the last minute on my trip to get it done. We're leaving early tomorrow morning and coming back Sunday. I expect it will be a bit awkward to knit on this in the car, but I'm going to do it in order to have a chance of finishing on time (the closing ceremonies at the Olympics start at 6 a.m. local time on Sunday, so really I need to have this finished up by Saturday night before I go to bed). I have no idea how much knitting time I'll have once we get to our destination, but I'm sure I can manage at least a bit of time. Ideally, I'll be able to finish the knitting in the car and use any extra time to weave in ends and graft the underarms.

I won't be posting this weekend, so you'll have to wait until next week to find out if I finished in time or not. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It Doesn't Look Much Different

I fear I am running out of time on my Ravellenic sweater. I am working feverishly on it every night, but there is only so much knitting I can get done in an evening. I am getting ever closer to the brioche: I have one more raglan decrease round to do, some short rows, and then a few set-up rounds to knit before I join in the yoke color and get down to business. I'm hopeful that tonight I'll at least make it that far. Here's where it stands at this moment:

The good news is that as the rounds have gotten smaller thanks to the decreases, they've also gotten easier to manage -- those first few rounds after you join the body and the sleeves are so annoyingly awkward! I'm still having to rearrange the entire sweater as I knit, and that won't go away, but anything that makes the process a bit easier makes me a happier knitter.

It's increasingly looking like I'll need to work on this in the car on my trip this weekend if I want to finish in time. It's not ideal, but I will do what I need to in order to meet the deadline.

Meanwhile, I've been working on a new sock design at work during my lunch break (because the sweater is too bulky to fit in my work bag -- though if I really need the extra time I might break down and carry an additional bag). It's moving along much faster, as you would expect. The first sock was finished last week and I'm already nearly halfway done with the second. I've shared some peeks of this on my Instagram account, but this is the first time I've shared a clear shot.

This is just the first pattern in what will be a mini collection that I'm doing as a collaboration with Marian of Marianated Yarns. The socks are obviously up first, but upcoming are a hat and a cowl, both of which will feature coordinating yarn colors and variations on the stranded motif. Marian's yarns are brand new to me, and I have not been disappointed. I'm particularly excited to break into the skeins of her Playtime DK she sent because the yarn has a cabled construction that should make for some really excellent stitch definition.

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's Almost a Sweater

I didn't post yesterday because Sundays are for blogging about spinning, and there has been not one lick of spinning done in probably two weeks. There has, however, been a lot of sweater knitting, which is why I'm posting a day earlier than usual.

I'm coming off a long weekend -- Rainbow had no school of Friday, so I took the day off to be with her, and then was out of the house most of the day Saturday. We dropped her off at my in-law's on Saturday afternoon, and she was staying with them that night, yesterday, and today (when she has another day off from school), so that meant that the Mister and I had the house to ourselves yesterday. While there were certainly the usual chores and errands to do, I got in a lot more knitting time than usual. By the time I was ready for bed last night, I had not only finished the body of my sweater but had managed to join the body and sleeves so that I'm ready to start my yoke.

I know this isn't a great photo, but it's the best I could do on an overcast morning. Now that the pieces are joined, I've got several inches of the main color to knit with raglan decreases followed by a set of short rows. Then I'll finally get to the brioche.

The little ball of yarn you can see to the right of the sweater is all that's remaining of my fourth skein. I have three left, and I'm not sure I'll use all of them, though I know that the brioche section will eat yarn.

The deadline to finish this sweater is this weekend (sometime on Sunday -- I have to look up the exact time), but I'm really hoping to have it finished Friday night because I'll be leaving super early for a trip for the weekend on Saturday morning and I'm not sure this will work as car knitting. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, February 15, 2018


For some strange reason, I had it in my head that when I reached the end of this week, I'd be done with the sleeves and the body of my sweater and would be ready to start the yoke. I'm not even close to that point. Although it is going a bit faster now that I no long have the awkwardness of being close to the cast on, I'm still in the middle of the brioche at the bottom of the sweater and only a bit past halfway at that.

The upside is that I am past halfway on the brioche, and once I get though the rest, I will be moving up to larger needles and knitting in stockinette, which I can pretty much do in my sleep. I also have a lot of knitting time in the weekend ahead. Tomorrow I am taking the day off to spend the day with Rainbow, whose school is closed for an in-service day. On Saturday, she'll be gone most of the day at a Brownies activity, and then we're taking her to my in-laws' to stay over Saturday and Sunday night (her school is closed on Monday as well). That means that I've got the majority of three days in the weekend ahead to work on the body -- in between all the stuff that has to get done, of course -- and I'm hoping that's sufficient to get me to the joining point. Although the end point for the Olympics and the Ravellenic Games is next Sunday, I really feel like I need to be finished on Friday because I'm headed out of town for a baby shower next Saturday, and despite having hours in the car to get there, I don't think two-color brioche in a crowded car is optimal (though it certainly would be interesting). So please send all your speed-knitting mojo my way this weekend!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

All Sorts of Things

Sometimes when it rains, it pours. After worrying that I wouldn't have much content for the blog because of my monogamous sweater knitting, I find myself with rather an abundance of content instead. I'll try to keep it brief so as not to bore you, but there is a lot to talk about.

First, let's start with the FOs! I did indeed finish up the baby sweater Thursday night after I posted, and I blocked it over the weekend. All that it needs to be an official FO are buttons, which I'm hoping to tackle by the weekend.

Pattern: Hyphen by Lisa Chemery
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (75% cotton, 25% acrylic) in Carrot, approximately 2.3 skeins
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 7 (4.5 mm)
Started/Completed: January 30/February 8
Mods: unintentionally made the body an inch longer than called for

This pattern was a pure delight to knit. It was easy to knit, with little need to pay close attention to the pattern (though perhaps I should have paid slightly closer attention or I wouldn't have made my unintentional mod). The stitch pattern around the yoke and the wrists is deceptively easy to do but looks great. I'm very happy with how this turned out. Rainbow is also a fan, so I'd say it's highly likely I'll be making another one in the near future in the largest size.

Also blocked over the weekend was my handspun brioche cowl, which has been done for some time but has had to wait patiently for its spa treatment and photo shoot.

I didn't use a real pattern for this; it's just basic brioche worked in the round over about 250 stitches on size 3 (3.25 mm) needles until I just about ran out of yarn. The colors have been so hard to capture accurately, but I think this photo does a reasonable job.

As far as WIPs are concerned, my Helenium is my main one, and honestly I couldn't be happier with how it's going thus far. After casting on first thing on Friday morning, by the end of the weekend I had one sleeve done and most of the second knit. We woke up yesterday to a surprising snowfall that came with a two-hour delay for Rainbow, so while we were sitting around, I finished the second sleeve. I'm now onto the body, which should be relatively fast once I get past the brioche at the bottom -- it's stockinette in the round, and there is no shaping.

Finally, remember this hat?

This is my Xenolith pattern, which I released last fall as part of a collaboration with my friend Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works. It was initially available only as part of a kit, but now it's available as a standalone pattern in my Ravelry shop. The hat only uses small amounts of five colors, so if you have a bunch of minis or leftovers sitting around in your stash, this is the perfect way to use them up.

[buy now]

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Possible Hiatus

It's Sunday, and usually that means spinning, but when Sunday falls in the middle of the Ravellenic Games and I'm trying to knit a sweater in two weeks, that means spinning gets largely ignored. I am taking a pause in my spinning for the time being, though it's possible I may find some time to do some if I'm really productive with my sweater knitting. Still, there's been a little more progress since the last time you saw a bobbin shot.

These are the first singles in the final color for my sweater, Sky. I was expecting the yarn to turn out a bit darker than the fiber as the other colors did, but these singles look pretty similar the original fiber. Perhaps the yarn will be a bit darker when plied, though I'll have to wait a while to see if that's the case. All things considered, it feels good to be past the halfway point on this project, and I'm definitely excited to get to the knitting part.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Hard to Contain

It's hard to contain my excitement, that is -- the Olympics start tomorrow, and that means the start of the Ravellenic Games! I have been dying to cast on my Helenium sweater, but I am being very good and not cheating. I have wound all the yarn, however, and have a new pair of needles ready to go (because the ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles in the size I need have gone missing), so all that's left to do before I can cast on tomorrow is to go through the pattern and highlight all the pertinent information for my size.

There actually is one other thing I need to do before I start my sweater, and that's to finish the baby sweater. That should be no problem at all, because all I have left to do is knit half a sleeve (and the bottom half of the sleeve at that). I've even woven in all my ends thus far, so once the sleeve is dealt with, all that will remain to do is to block and sew on some buttons.

This has really been a fun and relaxing knit, and I think I could have finished it even faster had I focused on it a bit more. Even though I'll be knitting almost up to the wire to get it done before serious sweater knitting starts, I will have finished it more than two weeks before it needed to be done, so that's an accomplishment.

I suspect there will soon be another one of these on the needles, as Rainbow has really gushed over it and is in need of a new sweater, as the only hand-knit one that currently fits her is a light fingering weight one. But she's really more in need of a new pair of mittens first. If only there were more hours in the day!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Pattern Release: Non-Euclidian

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, then you surely know I'm a huge fan of hand-knit socks. I almost always have a sock WIP on the go, and I have knit enough of them in my knitting career that I could probably knit one in my sleep.

After knitting hundreds of socks, however, I find myself perpetually curious in new ways to knit them (at least within my usual MO of cuff down). I've tried different methods of doing the gusset decreases, doing a simultaneous heel flap and gusset, and of course many different heels. While knitting my daughter's last couple of pairs of socks, I thought about whether it would be possible to create what is essentially a gusset for the heel and have the snug fit one gets with a traditional flap and gusset decreases. The only way to know for sure was to try, and while it took more than one attempt to get the fit just right, I'm happy to report that it worked as well as I'd hoped.

Non-Euclidian is a twist on the traditional stockinette sock. Rather than working back and forth to make a heel flap, increases create a pocket of fabric to hug the heel. Short rows are then worked under the heel to decrease the extra stitches. The result is two triangular areas of fabric covering a three-dimensional part of the foot -- hence the name.

I've written up the pattern in the form of a stockinette sock, but the beauty of the heel is that, much like many other heels, it can be substituted for any other heel. So you can plop it into any other sock pattern or use it in conjunction with your favorite stitch pattern.

The pattern has been graded to five sizes -- to fit a foot circumference of 6, 7 (8, 9, 10) in./15, 18 (20.5, 23, 25.5) cm -- to fit a wide range of child and adult feet. As you can see, it works well with self-striping yarn, but really any kind of sock yarn is going to place nice. I've suggested a dense gauge of 9 stitches per inch for durability (because the heel has no reinforcement like the slip-stitch method usually used in heel flaps), but if you prefer to work to a different gauge, it's easy to adapt the method to your stitch count.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Good Enticements

As much as I am enjoying my sweater spin, there does come a moment in all large projects when you get a bit sick of spinning the same thing. I've done very little spinning this week, and I'm still in the middle of my first bobbin for the next skein.

This skein will transition from Bay, the medium blue, to Sky, the light blue. I'm excited to finally spin some of the lightest color!

What is certainly not helping me stay focused is the arrival of pretty fiber to distract me. First, my December shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club finally showed up this past week, and it's a real beauty. I braided it so you could see all the colors:

This is a colorway called Kandinsky, and it's on one of my favorite fiber, Rambouillet. This will be a very fun spin!

I also received a set of batts that I ordered from the FatCatKnits Etsy shop. Although Ginny is no longer dyeing fiber, she's using what she still has to card up some gorgeous batts. I just couldn't resist these.

These are a blend of Merino, Rambouillet, Polwarth, and Targhee (basically all my favorite wools) with silk, flax, silk noil, and angelina.

I am really tempted to spin up these new acquisitions right away, but I think I will leave them as motivation for finishing up my sweater spin.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Onto Smaller Things

Since last I posted, the giant crochet bag has been felted, fully dried, and adorned with handles. Here's the final product (admittedly not the best photo, but the best I could do with the early morning light -- or lack thereof):

The handles were a prize from a KAL last year. The set came with wooden buttons as well, but after I tried a couple, I wasn't completely happy with how they looked (plus the holes in the buttons didn't exactly line up with the holes in the handles), so I took them off. They're sewn on with waxed linen thread that came with the handles and buttons; there wasn't a lot of it, so I could only go through each set of holes twice. Still, the handles feel pretty securely sewn on, and I can always reinforce them at a later date if need be.

I am still working on the handspun cowl, though I'm in the home stretch at this point -- just about five more colorways still to knit. I'm hoping to finish it up before the weekend is out. Here's an obligatory progress shot (please excuse the ugly office floor and furniture in the background):

Meanwhile, in the week or so I have left before the Ravellenic Games start and I cast on for my sweater, I'm attempting to bang out a baby sweater. I have a shower to go to later this month, so naturally I wanted a hand knit to bring. This is yet another terrible photo due to low light; trust me when I say the color is bright and cheerful in real life.

This is the Hyphen cardigan by Lisa Chemery, and I'm knitting it up in Knit Picks Comfy Worsted, a cotton/acrylic blend. The family I'm knitting for lives in southern Florida, so I didn't think wool would get used much, and this yarn is soft and easy care. The color also screams Miami to me:

I'm really enjoying the pattern so far, and I'm also enjoying the fact that it's knitting up very quickly. Tonight I should be able to knit up the last textured section and get to the point were I separate the sleeve and body stitches. The pattern is simple but clever, and I can definitely see myself knitting this again, perhaps even in the largest size for Rainbow.