WIP Wednesday 5/7/14 — Vacation Knitting

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Silly startitis. (I stole that word from the blogosphere… not that clever.) I didn’t want to lug my lovely almost-sweater around with me on my trip down to Dallas, so I packed a skein of sock yarn and my size 6 needles. I cannot seem to stop with the triangular shawls. Three stitch cast-on for that much loveliness? Yes, please! This is (Michael’s brand) Loops and Threads luxury sock yarn; I bought it quite a while ago, unable to resist the colors and softness. It is 10% cashmere, so it seemed shawl-worthy as opposed to sock-worthy. I was trying to create a pattern, and I have this lovely idea in my head. However, I didn’t want to do the math or use that much concentration without my notebooks and computer and stitch pattern books and favorite pencils. After starting three different projects two rows long, I gently ripped (’cause cashmere = clingy), then used my dependable tab cast-on to start the flow quickly. I wanted to visit with my friends and stitch along in an absentminded manner, not count and worry.  The worst mistake I can make in these shawls is missing a yarn-over, and that can easily be corrected on the next row.  I like to throw in a row of k2tog, yo every once in a while to add some interest, but for the most part I just knit and knit and it grows and grows. Non-stitchers always seem to think I’m making a hat at first.

Game in progress: I discovered a video game that stitchers and artists might like as much as gamers! It is called Blendoku. The point is to put colors in order. For example, one level shows a bright blue square and a grey-blue square with spaces in between, and the player must correctly place five blue-ish tiles on the board. That description should either sound really exciting or really pointless, and I am in the first camp. (sidenote: I recently upgraded phones, and now my Playstation trophy hunting has been lacking thanks to my endless desire to download casual games.) Most levels I am racing through, but every once in a while there is a level I cannot wrap my brain around. I have now been paying a little more attention to subtleties in colors. Such as how the shawl colors are as cool as the shades of pool water and capris, yet the army-green of the shorts contains much more brown and grey than the Kelly and hunter green shades in the yarn. Fascinating!

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Fennel Ale – Part 1

My first sweater. (I hear a chorus in my head sounding in a crescendo of amazement.) I love it.
I received a book on knitting sweaters for Xmas, but reading through the instructions I was a bit intimidated. The steps weren’t technically unfamiliar, just overwhelming put all in one project. So, when I heard about the winter sweater class/knit along at my favorite LYS, it seemed the next logical step. I was nervous about my skill level and speed and general awkwardness, but it turned out none of these things were of concern.
The awesome instructor Ann (here is her blog ) picked the Pumpkin Ale pattern by Ysolda Teague (Rav link). I am not into orange, yet the shaping on this sweater seemed perfect for my (or any) figure. When I signed up for the class, the sweetly sassy shop owner raised an eyebrow at me, “Have you made a sweater before?”
“No.” I mumbled. A worried asymmetrical expression crept upon my face.
She mirrored my concern, “We want everyone happy with their projects, and even Ann says it is challenging.”
“Hm.” My brain then went into data listing mode, “Well, I’ve done cables, shaping, short-rows, and picked up stitches. Just never in the same project.”
She waved her hand, communicating that I needn’t worry, and grinned, “Oh! You’ll be just fine.”
I only sort-of believed her, and therefore prepared (over)extensively for the first meeting. (I detailed the swatching on my Rav project page in case anyone else geeks out on such things…) I mentally picked my yarn, printed the pattern, practiced the cables, steamed the swatches, brought my highlighter, color coded pens, my needle set, and even arrived a few minutes early. Which is weird. Though I do often start things nice and well-organized before I putter out…

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I ended up using Berocco Vintage worsted in the color Fennel; I love the subtle flecks of yellow throughout the yarn and how the cable stitches pop. The super-fuzzy photo above seemed to be the best depiction on the actual color (at least on my screen). In class we read over the pattern practically line by line which gave me a much better understanding of how to tackle the sweater. I believe I would have been reading the pattern eternally rather than actually knitting it without the demonstration and translation! We were all assisted in choosing our correct size sweater and needle, discussed pattern errata, and started, steamed, or measured swatches. I was able to discuss all my overly thought out tidbits with a room full of like-minded women. I have stitch n bitch sessions with my best friend who crochets, but I had never been to any kind of knit night or knit along before. It was kind of great, a Socratic support group.
The back panel was first, complete with shaping built into the garter section between cables. I cast-on at the end of class but then continued at a local bar. It sounds strange but felt right sitting with friends in a large straight back armchair in an old Tudor-style hotel.  Plus it made the charts easier after having done set-up rows under the influence of whiskey sours.

Instead of looking at this post in my drafts for the next couple months, I think I’ll just publish it in parts. Perhaps the sweater will have sleeves during its next photo shoot!

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Think too much Thursday

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Sweater swatches

Started this post months ago, and you know what? It is done enough. To distract from it not really having a conclusion, I have included swatch pictures…  Ooooh, pretty. A preview of my first sweater, from the Pumpkin Ale pattern! (Which is currently a lovely vest, in other words, has no sleeves…)

 

I’ve been Writing Things Down rather than Typing Things Out lately. I love the sound, the smell, the feel of a pen’s scratches on paper, and I sometimes need it as an outlet. Words feel overly official once typed out, so I have this weird fear of acceptance when thoughts aren’t a mere scribble. Books and journals and binders provide me a sort of tactile comfort, much like yarn.

The notebook I use as a knitting journal is well labelled and organized; the start date and purpose printed clearly on it’s cover. It supplements my ravelry project pages with details of swatches, yarns, needles, gauges, equations. I expect it will be the first of many, though future ones will probably be in a binder and include the swatch squares. It fills me with glee. I have turned 33 since my last post, and feel like I am finally unlocking this girly, organizational skill-point that many women have inherently. Admittedly, this organization has become a requirement, what with the extra books and the yarn and project explosions.

The writing journals have an entirely different fate, a purposeful disorganization. I’ve been filling pages with a deluge of thoughts for most of my life, and for a long time I thought I was writing what equated to letters to no one. I have referred to my journals as a junk drawer rather than a diary. Thoughts get thrown in when I really don’t know what else to do with them. They can’t be neatly categorized, only grouped haphazardly, a collection of dejected associations. As a teen, thought-flow filled cheap, spiral bound notebooks while any hardback journals were saved for my more poetic musings. (Which are, for the most part, terrible, but have a few surprises.) I later started to collect so many beautiful books that I couldn’t write in just one; now I have one or more in almost every room. It seemed random until the realization struck that I have been writing to myself – my future self – all along.

Whenever the need to write strikes, I find the nearest journal or notebook, and look at the last entry. It has sometimes been years since the last entry (all are dated), yet I usually find the words I need. Whatever my struggle, my thrill at the time of writing, it ends up being topical for the future writer. I suppose it makes sense. If one keeps putting stuff in junk drawers all over the house, there is bound to be something helpful when the nearest one is opened.

to be continued…hopefully… 🙂

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Finished Object (FO) Friday 1/17/2014

cabled dishcloth

My very first cable in the convenient form of a dishcloth; took this picture almost exactly a year ago. The gauge is goofy because a needle broke about 1/3 of the way through. The pattern can be found on Ravelry – Cable Spa/Dishcloth.  Dishcloths are my favorite way to learn a new stitch pattern. It works just fine even if a couple rows look screwy.

I’m currently working on some toe-up socks on carbon fiber dpns. I bought Ann Budd’s video on sock knitting during the holiday Interweave sale, and was fascinated watching her do the Turkish/Eastern cast-on. Tried it (without re-watching!) a couple days later, and got it on my first attempt! One of those things that just made sense in my brain immediately.

Gaming-wise I am just sticking to casual and trophy-hunting at the moment. Finished Ni No Kuni last week, so I am stuck in that grind-to-plat or start a new game dilemma. In the meantime I’ve been playing Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing on the Vita. So much fun! More Mario Kart than Wipe-out which is good for me….Racing games are a blast, but not exactly my forte. I still haven’t finished Last of Us, nor played Burial at Sea (which is already bought and downloaded). I may have to schedule caffeinated gaming binge in the near future!

Finished Object (FO) Friday 12/6/2013

I think this may be my favorite finished object. It is a gift I completed a few months ago, but never dropped in the mail (hoping to see the recipient in person). It is made from Malabrigo worsted, and therefore would be beautiful no matter who knitted it into what. This is not the first shawl I started, but is the first one completed. I didn’t use a pattern, just techniques from the book Sock Yarn Shawls. (Triangular shape with garter-tab cast-on, increases, etc) Cast-on edges are not my strong point when it comes to tension, and the shawls with hundreds of cast-on stitches seem like a lofty project. This one started with three! I used US9 for the body, and switched between those and size 15 for the second section. I wet and lightly steam blocked, but never soaked it. I’d like the yarn-overs near the edge to relax a little more, so I may try more heavily blocking. It is superwash merino and one of the most luscious yarns I have touched.

It was made after I had read through a book on prayer shawls as well as a touching blog post on how birthday socks could be seen as handmade armor; these ideas made complete sense to me. When knitting a gift specifically for someone, thoughts drift to him or her. Every stitch is filled with love, prayer, good vibes or energy (hopefully). One can feel guarded against the cold and the world by wrapping up in a hand knit. It makes me think of the book Like Water for Chocolate and other works that use magical realism in which emotion and thought can be channeled or brought to life. In Laura Esquivel’s novel the representation is food; protagonist Tita pours so much into her cooking that anyone who eats it cannot help but feel the same emotion. It is beautiful, but can be dangerous. When she is lustful, it leaves guests gorging and swooning, yet when tears fall uncontrollably into the dish everyone feels sorrow to the point of sickness. I think it is common practice for knitters to try and keep to the thoughts of love, respect, healing. The negative, the sad, the anxious thoughts shouldn’t be squelched, but allowed and then dismissed. (Makes me think of attempts at meditation and Dune‘s litany of fear…) It is so easy to get lost in the negative, even addicted, yet it is really difficult to dwell too long with hand-dyed baby merino running across fingers and needles!

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WIP Wednesday 12/04/2013

Hi, I’m Purl, and I’m a yarnaholic. (Spell-check thinks the word should be chocoholic; it is wrong.) The color of the yarn is Fijian Waters. Not sure if my camera and screen quite capture the beauty, but it is in the range of my favorite shades of blue. The brightest blue you could possibly find in nature reserved for water and sky and flowers and the occasional stripe on a tropical creature. The perfectly twisted fiber was draped across the chair for days, and I finally twisted it back up into a hank yesterday. It needs to be wound into something manageable, but me and Mr. Gamer have both enjoyed walking through the dining room and giving the yarn a squeeze. Some yarn I don’t want wound at the local shop, especially worsted and thicker yarns since the skeins have less yardage. I like to use two chairs and stand on a step-stool, so the yarn pulls easily. Music helps, too. Since I’m still novice, it is nice to experience the yarn before I knit with it. I find the knots and random fuzzies, and get a feel for it. I have a better idea which needles, which pattern to use. The drape isn’t a complete mystery. Yes, I still need to (should…might..) knit a swatch, but have a better starting point if I’ve never worked with the yarn.

Since yarn on a chair probably doesn’t count as a work-in-progress, lovely as it is, here are sock explosion pictures!

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Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks has been a valuable reference.  Attempting magic loop in Patons stretch sock yarn in licorice. 5/6 Stitch per inch socks in Cascade 220 Sport on size 3 dpns are the off-white ones. The blue-ish one is Patons Classic Wool knitted on size 7 dpns.  All of these need blocking…I may invest in some sock blockers. I have project envy, as all of these are gifts. After X-mas, my own feet will be getting a pair of wool socks!