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A blanket for a friend

I finally finished that damn blanket that I’ve been making for, um, over four years…

Orange Sampler Afghan 1It started out as a way to use up skeins of yarn that had sat in my stash forever because there was no way I was using them to make anything I would wear. I mean, I like orange, but I don’t wear orange, generally speaking. So I decided a patchwork crocheted sampler afghan was the perfect way to get rid of… I mean, put to good use all this bulky orange yarn that had been sitting here unused and unloved for close to ten years.

So I made 11 squares.  And they sat around my craft room, waiting for the last square to be completed.  They sat around my craft room for four years.  A good portion of that time, they sat on the floor, just like this.  Waiting.

100_4674 (2)But when one of the dogs started thinking they were her personal cozy space, I picked them up off the floor and stacked them on a table. Where they waited again.

And waited.

And waited.

In January, I was in California for my annual girls’ weekend.  The husband of one of my dearest friends is suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy and all the rest of the unpleasantness that goes along with cancer treatment.  And that’s when it struck me: this blanket belongs to him.  So I came home and finished the last square.

And then that blanket sat around again while I finished up rehearsals and performances for Old Love.  And started and finished a cardigan for me, because I’m a selfish bitch.  But I finally sewed the squares together last week, took a few photos, and now I’m ready to send it off.  I’m holding this blog entry until I receive word from my friend that they’ve received the package.

Peter Blanket 1

Peter Blanket 4

Peter Blanket 7

Pattern: Sampler Afghan by Darla Sims, 12 selected squares
Yarn: Rowan Plaid, colorway 154 Spicy, 7 skeins; Patons North American Shetland Chunky, colorway 03520 Russet, 7 skeins; a total of 1610 yards
Hook: Boye, size K
Size: Roughly 36 inches by 48 inches, just big enough to cover one’s lap and legs
Satisfaction with end product: I like it. It’s cozy and warm and machine washable. I hope they like it. (And yes, I washed it to get rid of any dog hair.)  Click here for the Ravelry project page.

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Stash confessions

Let’s see….last August was the most recent stash update.  And until yesterday, there really hadn’t been that many stash acquisitions.  Rehearsals got in the way of yarn shopping as well as yarn creating.  But yesterday made up for it.  Hoo boy.

Let’s start with some yarn I actually acquired a couple of years ago but didn’t put into Ravelry until a few months ago.

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Alpacas By The Falls Pure Alpaca, an undyed 100% alpaca light worsted/DK, purchased at a small town LYS in Alabama.  Each skein weighs about 115 grams, and my best guess on yardage is probably 200-220.  I really don’t know because the label doesn’t say.  This was a one-off production run by an Alabama alpaca farm, who has since decided that their alpacas are pets rather than products.  I found this out because, when I finally got around to putting it in the Ravelry stash a few months ago, I emailed the alpaca farm to ask them how much yardage was in each skein, and she emailed back with the information that she didn’t remember and they only made the one batch as an experiment. I adore the tweedy gray, but it’s kind of hairy and scratchy, so I imagine I’ll turn it into a sleeveless vest of some sort.

In February I had a photo shoot in downtown Lawrenceville, Georgia.  After the shoot, I couldn’t leave town without visiting The Yarn Garden, where I found this fabulous color combo that almost literally jumped off the shelf into my hands.

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Manos del Uruguay Alegría in colorways Nickel (the gray tonal) and Turmeric (that gorgeous golden yellow).  This yarn is going to become the Make Space cardigan by Veera Välimäki.

I renewed my Rowan subscription recently and received the appreciation gift in the mail a couple of weeks ago.

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Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted in Peacock.  There’s just enough of this to make a scarf and hat combo if I stay with a solid color.  I have leftover partial skeins of other 100% wool worsteds, though, so I could throw a bunch of colorways together to make a colorwork pullover or something.  We’ll see.  It’s a sturdy workhorse yarn, so I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

And then there was yesterday’s splurge.  My cohort in yarn crime Alice and I drove up to Gainesville for a coffee and yarn buy excursion.  Our target was a yarn store that had announced it was closing at the end of April.  Currently everything is 35% off.  The discount will be greater as the month wears on, but we wanted to get there before the stock was too picked over.  And we found some perfectly gorgeous stuff.

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Frabjous Fibers Cheshire Cat Fingering (Uncommon Nonsense collection) in colorway Flower Bed.  This one made me think of Monet’s Water Lilies.  Really generous yardage in this put-up — over 500 yards — so there may be enough to get a pullover or cardigan with short sleeves out of these two skeins.  April Come She Will is a possibility.  Or perhaps La Grasse Matinée.

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Malabrigo Silky Merino in colorways Ravelry Red and Vigo.  This will become a short-sleeved tee or cropped cardigan of some sort.  The Short-Sleeved Raglan Tee or The Girly Tee are both possibilities.

After a stop for a bottle of water, we drove back to Atlanta to visit a new yarn store, The Craftivist.  Here’s where I went a little mad in the MadelineTosh department.

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Tosh Merino Light in Winter’s Rest

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Tosh Merino Light in Purple Rain

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And Tosh Merino Light in Gracenotes.

I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m going to do with these, but the speckled colorways just screamed at me to take them home.  What’s a girl to do?

Go to the bookstore down the street, that’s what.  I’ve been intending to visit A Cappella Books ever since I moved to Atlanta over five years ago.  Since we drove right past it after leaving The Craftivist, we had to stop.  I picked up a novel that had been on my wish list, American War by Omar El Akkad, plus another novel I hadn’t heard of but had enjoyed a previous book by the same author, The Changeling by Victor LaValle.

So, it was an expensive day, but a happy day.  Four, count ’em, four small businesses supported (our coffee and mid-morning snack came from an excellent non-chain coffeehouse, Midland Station), so feeling a little virtuous about that.

But I’m hiding next month’s Amex bill from the spouse.

New blog entry, with actual yarn content!

With all the rehearsals going on over the last six months, you would be forgiven for thinking that I’d forgotten how to turn yarn into usable items, much less actually complete anything.

Ha!  I haven’t!

Okay, I didn’t get much accomplished in that time, but there were a couple of things.  First, this baby blanket for a colleague who was expecting his first child was started in November and finished in January.

Mike Blanket 3

Pattern: Taylor Baby Blanket (my original design)
Yarn: Bernat Pipsqueak, in four different colorways (see Ravelry project page for details), approx 275 yards total
Needles: Addi circs, size US 15
Size: Approx 36″ x 24″
Satisfaction with end product: It’s soft and squishy and perfect for a newborn. My colleague and his wife loved it, and that’s the most important thing.

Late last summer I made this tank top.

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Pattern: S7365 Damentop mit Ajourmuster by Schachenmayr Design Team (Thankfully, it was available in English)
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Sunseeker Multi in Candy Cane, approx 628 yards
Needles: Addi circulars, US 5 and US 3
Size: Medium (34″/36″)
Mods: Gauge with this yarn was a little wide and tall, so I cast on for the small to get a medium, and began the armholes at row 120 instead of row 148. Did 4 rows garter stitch at bottom edge before beginning lace pattern. Also 4 rows garter stitch at neck edge and armhole edge instead of stockinette. Did not turn over arm and neck edges for a hem. 2 inch shoulder seams instead of 2 cm as called for in the pattern.
Satisfaction with end product: Made for me, and I love it. It’s cool and comfortable and looks pretty good under a jacket, so I can even wear it to work.

You can see a few more pictures on the project page.

And finally, I made this hat in February:

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Pattern: #24 Cabled Pompom Hat by Annabelle Speer (from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2012)
Yarn: Schaefer Chris in Pomegranate, approx 215 yards (a now defunct yarn company; this was my last skein)
Needles: Addi circs, US 7
Mods: Smaller pompom due to lack of the appropriate size pompom maker, a situation that has now been remedied
Satisfaction with end product: This was a gift for a friend who helped out the production of Old Love by sending us authentic Tim Horton’s to-go cups from Canada to use in our coffee shop scene. A small detail that the audience probably never noticed, but we did. I think the hat turned out lovely, but more importantly, my friend did too. You can see a few more pics on the Ravelry project page.

Latest stash additions

It’s been all books and weight loss around here recently.  Let’s jump back into yarnie stuff and look at the new(ish) stash for a change.

Laceweight yarn has caught my attention in a big way.  The last several skeins I’ve purchased have all been laceweight.

100_4790 (2)Juniper Moon Farm Findley Dappled in colorway Rost Turkey is a shimmering silk/merino blend.  Each skein is 798 yards, so there’s enough here for a cardigan or long sleeve top.  I going to give the colorway naming people the benefit of the doubt and believe they meant to spell it that way.

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Shibui Knits Cima in colorway Lumen.  This yarn was on clearance at the LYS so I bought every skein they had in this colorway.  1900+ yards of alpaca/wool laceweight that simply glows. I see this as a drapey A-line tunic to wear over black leggings with black suede boots.

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Swans Island Natural Colors Collection Merino Silk Lace in colorways (from top to bottom) Ivory, Sand Dollar, and Sea Glass.  These beauties are destined for a long-sleeve “fade” pullover, mostly likely Little Bird by Veera Välimäki.

 

Stash additions

100_4726 (2)Been on a bit of a stash binge recently.  Let’s start with my favorite new acquisition.  Expression Fiber Arts Superwash Merino Silk Pearlescent Fingering in the colorway Stardust.  Isn’t that gorgeous?  It’s soft and silky and soooo luxurious.  I bought this with no idea what to do with it; I saw it on Facebook and it yelled at me really really loudly so I had to have it.  With two skeins totaling 1100 yards, though, I imagine it will become a cardigan or maybe a lacy tunic-length top.

100_4753 (2)This was another yarn I saw on Facebook and had to have. It’s from OnTheRound, Everyday Fingering in colorway Robin’s Egg.  My photo doesn’t do justice to the colorway, so click the link to see a better representation.  Although I love the colorway, I was initially a little disappointed in the yarn itself.  After the smooth silkiness of the Expression Fiber Arts skeins, it seemed a little rough, but after a while I realized that it’s no more rough than any other 100% merino fingering with a really tight twist.  So it will make sturdy socks or (given that I have 850 yards) a long-wearing and warm cropped or lacy cardigan.

100_4751 (2)While I was on the website for OnTheRound, I ran across this other colorway of the same yarn, Speckled Time Travelers.  Again, my photo is crap, so click through the link for the dyer’s photos.  This skein will most likely become socks.

100_4750 (2)Finally, some yarn I acquired sort of by default. A friend wanted me to help her knit some brain hats for one of her friends and his daughter who are attending the March for Science on April 22.  I made the hat in just a few hours and then considered the best option for the yards and yards of I-cord required.  Michaels (or was it Jo-Ann?) had an Embellish-Knit I-cord maker on clearance, so I scooped it up and tried it out. The results were, um, non-existent.  This yarn, Trendsetters’ Forzetta (colorway, Ashes of Roses), is a single-ply worsted, and the little hooks in the I-cord maker just tore it apart.  Next I tried a gray acrylic plied worsted I had in stash, but that yarn was too big for the I-cord maker to work properly. (Apparently, it’s best with DK or smaller yarns.)  With time running out, I told my friend there was no way I could get this hat done before the march if I had to make the I-cord the slow way.  She said she was having the same trouble; thus, we bagged the project, and she told me to keep the yarn for my trouble.  With about 3 1/2 skeins left (roughly 500 yds — more if I frog the already finished but ugly hat), I figure it will become a warm winter set with a scarf, hat, and mitts.

Sock yarn plans

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Sock yarn pile #1, to be used for actual socks

Some time ago, I pulled all the sock yarn out of stash and sorted it into two piles.

Into pile number one went the sock yarn that is suitable to be used for actual socks:  it has nylon or some other such fiber content that makes it suitable to take the abuse on being worn on feet, walked upon, and rubbed against the inside of shoes.

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Sock yarn pile #2, to be used for other accessories like shawls or scarves

Pile number two contained all the sock yarn that will not be used for socks.  Now, this could be yarn that is 100% wool with no other strengthening fibers; or it could be a single ply with no twist that can’t take the abuse; or maybe the yardage is far too excessive for socks and must be made into some other accessory; or it could be yarn that’s just too dang pretty to be hidden inside shoes.  The yarn sorted into this pile is destined for scarves, or shawls, or in a few cases where the yardage will allow, perhaps even a lacy shrug or cropped cardigan.

Progress notes:  I made a pair of socks from one of the skeins in Pile #1 already (Dragonfly and Rosebud, blogged here); tried a second skein but, after struggling with it and its splitty nature, relegated it to Pile #2; and am currently knitting socks with a third skein.

True confession:  Since these photos were taken, I’ve added more sock yarn to the stash.  They were pretty evenly divided. Four of the new skeins went into Pile #1; five into Pile #2.

A blanket for Liam

Stripes and Hearts 10I have a new grand-nephew on the way. And, of course, I made him a blanket.

Pattern:  I Got You Babe-y by Marty Miller, from the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of the now-defunct Crochet Today.

Yarn:  Bernat Gloucester Sport, 2.8 skeins (308 yds), colorway “French Blue”; Mirasol T’ika, 4 skeins (364 yds), colorway 502 “Light Blue”.

Hook:  H for body, I for borders.

Mods: Did not do the lacy attach-as-you-go border between panels. Rather, did single crochet edging around each panel and sewed them together. Three rounds of single crochet in alternating colors around entire blanket for the edging.

84df2-knit-your-library_2016Satisfaction with end product:  I think it’s lovely.  The 100% cotton yarn makes it soft and absorbent, besides making it an easy-care baby item; I’m sure my niece-in-law will appreciate that.

You can see more project pics at the Ravelry project page.

Still “knitting” my library.  Please join us!

2016 in Review: Yarn

Last January, I proclaimed 2016 as the “Year of Knitting Selfishly”.  Out of a total of seven projects completed, five were for me, so that’s a win.  On the other hand, only seven projects were completed, so that’s a blow to the Ravelry queue.

The two gift projects were for babies:  Kaysen’s Blankie for my newest grand-nephew; and Davi’s Stocking for a girlfriend’s baby.

Both were knit projects and took far longer than I expected.  The two months it took to knit that baby blanket — size approximately 24 inches by 34 inches — gave me pause to reconsider tackling a couple of other knitted blankets I have queued.  I can crochet  blankets far faster than I can knit them.  I may stick to crocheted blankets in the future, especially for babies.

The five remaining projects were for me.  I’ve blogged three of them:  Ribby Striped Cowl; Wildflower Cardigan; and the Lacy Moebius Cowl.  The two remaining projects, a shawl and a pair of socks will be blogged shortly.

2016 Technical Accomplishments

I  designed and knitted three projects: Kaysen’s Blankie, the Ribby Striped Cowl, and the Lacy Moebius Cowl.

I made my first pair of toe up socks (to be blogged).  That same pair of socks also included my first short row heel.

I made my first real colorwork project with Davi’s Stocking.  Learned a lot about intarsia by muddling through and juggling bobbins.

2016’s Stash Accomplishments

I used 3,743 yards of stash yarn.

I acquired 5,576 yards of new yarn for a net addition of 1,833 yards.

I refuse to feel guilty.  Look at this one.  Look.

Silk Traveler 1

Fingering, 70% Merino, 30% Silk

*drool*

2017 Goals

I make no plans whatsoever to avoid acquiring new yarn because that’s a silly idea doomed to failure.  In fact, I’ve already doomed it by buying four skeins in January alone.

What I plan to do is:

  • Make a baby blanket for my nephew and his wife
  • Make more socks
  • Finally tackle a Fair Isle project — probably a hat that can be knit in the round
  • Continue to knit from stash as much as possible — the baby blanket for my nephew and his wife may be the exception because I don’t have much yarn suitable for that purpose
  • Continue to knit through my library of patterns
  • Write out and publish the patterns I’ve designed

Everything else is on a wait-and-see basis.  I’m dropping weight fairly rapidly (down approximately 17 lbs since surgery), so I don’t intend to make any cardigans or other  garments until I’m much closer to my goal weight.

What are you going to make this year?

Stash enhancement Saturday: First new stash since June 2016!

I’ve been on a self-imposed yarn diet lately.  It wasn’t on purpose; I just was so busy taking care of daily living stuff and knitting from stash that I hadn’t been to an LYS since last June.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, a girlfriend posted photos of her latest yarn store binge on Facebook.  I fell head over heels in love with one of the skeins she posted and had to buy it for myself.  Witness below:

100_4689-2Shepherd Sock by Lorna’s Laces, colorway “Aslan”.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  It knits up in stripes, and I have 870 yds (2 skeins), so I’m thinking maybe a lacy cropped cardi?  We’ll see what pattern presents itself and screams for this yarn.

Speaking of screaming, on Thursday I had to go by The Needle Nook to drop off a couple of pussyhats for today’s March in DC and wandered through the store while waiting for the clerk to photocopy more of the little cards to attach to each hat.  A couple of skeins of Malabrigo shouted at me, so they had to come home, too.

100_4694-2Malabrigo Sock, colorway 139 “Pocion”.  Destined for socks if I can find the right pattern.

100_4692-2Malabrigo Mechita, colorway 850 “Archangel”.  No idea what I’ll do with this one.  It’s a single with no twist, so socks aren’t a good idea.  Will probably end up as a shawlette.

Stash Enhancement Saturday: Moon Pie Edition

Bell Buckle MuralA couple of weeks ago, my partner in crime Alice and I took a little road trip to the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Bell Buckle, population less than 500, is a wide spot in the road that, if it weren’t for this silly paean to the quintessential Southern snack, would be utterly unremarkable and garner no attention whatsoever.  It’s a two-street town, centered at the intersection of a couple of rural two-lane blacktop highways on the way to nowhere.

This isn’t to say the town lacks a certain charm.  There’s a quilt painted into the road on the main drag.

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Image copyright Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce

Plus the sheer whimsy of a festival devoted to a now fairly obscure carbonated cola and a chocolate-covered marshmallow sandwich speaks for itself, yes?

The parade was cute.  Alice took these photos:

RC Cola Moon Pie SnackNaturally, we indulged in the delicacy being celebrated.  I can’t remember the last time I had a Moon Pie, much less an RC Cola.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw RC Cola in the grocery store.  Of course, I seldom shop the soda aisle, so it may be there, hidden somewhere among all the Pepsi and Coke products.  Although I remember preferring RC Cola to Coke or even Pepsi when I was a kid, these days I’m a Pepsi drinker, if I drink a cola.  (Unsweetened iced tea is my preferred beverage at restaurants; Dr. Pepper or root beer otherwise.)  By the way, if you’re at all interested in RC Cola’s history and, specifically, how the Cola Wars of the 80s and the battle over artificial sweeteners affected the brand, take a gander at this Mental Floss article from April 2016.  Also, if you can find the back issue, Rolling Stone published a big article on the Cola Wars sometime in the late 1980s.  (This subject fascinates me, if you haven’t noticed.)

After the parade, we wandered around the festival booths.  There were the usual souvenir T-shirt stands, kettle corn and hot dog stands, “vintage” or “bohemian” clothing booths, plus a couple of guys selling sunglasses and ball caps.  We stopped at the hand-made dog treat booth where Alice indulged in special yum-yums for her baby.  And we both stopped dead in our tracks at the booth with the yard critters made out of sheet metal.

Just look.

Metal Yard MonstersAren’t they precious?  One of the triceratops belongs to Alice; the other triceratops and the flying pig (I know!) are mine.  (They’re currently in the garage because I can’t make up my mind where to put them in the back yard.)  This booth had all sorts of other critters I liked: flying pigs on stakes so you could position them above your shrubbery; giraffes; a T-Rex; so much more.  I should have taken a photo of the booth itself, but I was so enraptured by the dinos and the pigs that I forgot.

By now you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought this was a stash enhancement Saturday post.  Where’s the new stash?”

Silk Traveler 1Wait no more.  After a few hours, we were done with the festival, and we headed up the road a little further to Murfreesboro and The Knaughty Knitter.  Nice little store, easy access, good parking, sufficient and varied stock.  I came away with two skeins of indulgence, Meadowcroft DyeworksSilk Traveler, in the Pisgah National Forest colorway.  It’s gorgeous.  I’m going to pair it with a skein of purple or maybe a green sockweight that I already own and turn it into a lace cardigan.  Eventually.  (In reality, these two skeins will probably sit in stash for about three years before I do something with them.)

In other news, I finally finished the Wildflower Cardigan.  Photos and a blog entry coming soon.  Also, more book reviews.