Archives

Catching up on yarn biz 2: More recently finished FOs

Misty 1Pattern: At Dawn by Joji Locatelli.  Great pattern. Easy to follow. Looks good either side, although if you look closely, you can tell which is the “wrong” side in the photos.

Yarn: MC (darker shade) = Araucania Huasco/Botany Lace in colorway 017, 329 yds; CC (lighter shade) = madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorway Urban Flagstone, 353 yds.  Misty 2Both yarns are fabulous to work with, and they look so good together. I was a little concerned because the Tosh is a single and the Araucania is a two-ply, but they worked like they were meant to go together and made a scrumptious garter stitch fabric.

Needles:  Hiya Hiya Sharp Steel Circs, US 3.  These are pretty much my go-to needles for most fingerweight projects.  They’re just grippy enough, and plenty sharp for picking up wrapped stitches or working lace charts.

Satisfaction with end product:  A qualified hurrah!  I love the drape and think the colors look amazing together.  The unusual shape makes it a little difficult to wear, but I may remedy that with a shawl pin.  I’m looking forward to wearing it once the weather cools.

Another pic because it’s so pretty.  If you want more pics, you can go to my Ravelry project page.

Misty 6

Next up, my new favorite!  I finally found the perfect pattern for that Cascade Ultra Pima I’ve been trying to turn into a cardigan for years.  Behold!

Flower Cardigan 5Pattern: Blomstertrøje / Flower Jacket by Lene Holme Samsøe, from the now-out-of-print Feminine Knits book.  I rated the pattern medium difficulty because increasing/decreasing while maintaining the lace pattern isn’t necessarily a beginner skill. Otherwise, it’s fairly easy. I rated the pattern itself as three stars because of the many errata, only one of which (the error in the flower chart) is noted on the Interweave site. For example, the directions to bind off for the shoulder were identical for the left front and right front, when they should have been reversed. Also, the directions for buttonhole placement should have been in the Flower Cardigan 3section prior to “shape neckline”.  It’s only because I’m an experienced knitter that the errors gave me no difficulty.  A newbie might have been in a little trouble. While I’m willing to believe these may have been simple Danish-to-English translation errors, the English-language tech editor should have caught them.

Size: 36″.  And you can’t imagine how much of a thrill it gives me to make something in such a small size.

Yarn:  Cascade Ultra Pima, colorway 3732 Aqua, 685 yards.

Needles:   Addi Circs, US 2; Addi Click Circs, US 4

Buttons:  4 vintage 1/2″ mother-of-pearl shanks from stash. The pattern called for 3/4″ buttons, so these were just a smidge too small for the buttonholes.  I remedied that by tightening up the buttonholes with sewing thread after sewing on the buttons.

Satisfaction with end product:  Regardless of the pattern errata, the cardigan itself turned out great.  I finished it on a Saturday and wore it to work the following week.  It fits like it was custom-made….Wait a minute; it was!  And I love it.

Because I love it, here’s one last photo.  Naturally, the Ravelry project page has more.

Flower Cardigan 6

Now we’re all caught up on finished stuff. Another project is on the needles, of course, so stay tuned.

Catching up on yarn biz: Recent FOs

I actually have been knitting stuff in the last few months.  Somehow the knit blogging got lost in the shuffle of the book blogging and weight loss blogging.  Let’s remedy that.

Can’t get a decent picture of these socks to save my life.

Pattern:  Espalier by Sarah Hatton.  Well-written pattern. I love the little triangle detail at the back of the calf.  Here’s the link to my Ravelry project page.

Yarn:  Pagewood Farms Yukon in colorway Maple Leaf, 315 yards from a 450 yard skein.  The variegated colorway gave each sock a slightly different look in color patterning — one is definitely more green than the other. But this is great yarn — handles beautifully, feels oh so soft, and the stitches are clean and precise. If I run across it again, I’ll be happy to buy more.  Unfortunately, the web page for Pagewood Farms no longer exists, so I’m guessing they’ve folded.

Needles:  Knitter’s Pride Karbonz, US Size 1 DPNs. LOVE these needles.

Size:  Large (cast on of 84 stitches)

Satisfaction with end product:  LOVE!  If they weren’t intended as a gift, then I’d keep them myself.

Silken Heaven 1Oh, look! I tried beading for the first time!  Although you can’t really tell in this photograph.

Pattern:  Heaven Scent by Boo Knits.  I made the all-over lace version.  Link to my Ravelry project page.

Yarn: Wild Orchids Fiber Arts Swiss Mountain Baby Camel and Silk, colorway Natural. 424 yards from a 437-yard skein.  Another defunct small yarn company that made gorgeous yarn.  When you see those little independent booths at the big yarn shows, go buy their stuff.

Silken Heaven 7Needles: Addi Clicks Natura Circulars, US 5. I needed the stickiness of the bamboo needles because this yarn was so slippery.

Beads: Toho Glass Beads, 6/0 “E”, color Rosaline (silver-lined), approximately 320  (2 sleeves + a partial sleeve).

Satisfaction with end product:  I think it’s beautiful, and I can hardly wait for the weather to cool off enough to wear it somewhere.

I have two more finished projects that need photography, so stay tuned.

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.

100_4793 (2)

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.

100_4885 (2)

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.

 

FO: My Own Best Friend Socks

My Own Best Friend 3In keeping with the idea of using all that sock yarn I own on actual socks, the sock-making binge continues.

Pattern:  Friendship Socks by Amy Palmer, from Interweave Holiday Gifts 2011

Yarn: Chelsea Sock by Nooch Fibers, colorway Arizona (caveat: that colorway name is a best guess based on the colorways that were available at the time; when I bought this yarn, the tag did not name the colorway; and, incidentally, it’s no longer available on the website, so we may never know)

Needles: Knitter’s Pride Karbonz, US 1 1/2 DPNs.  I bought these DPNs sometime last year, and they languished unused until I started knitting socks again.  Now I won’t use anything else.

My Own Best Friend 4Satisfaction with end product:  They’re gorgeous, they’re soft, and they fit.  I’m a little concerned that the cashmere content in the yarn may make them not quite durable enough for regular wear, but I can always use them as house socks.  I’m wearing them as I type this blog entry, and love how they feel on my feet.

The pattern itself was easy as pie; the lace pattern at the cuff is charted and easy to follow.  After that, it’s just straight stockinette all the way down, so this would make a good first sock pattern for a newbie.  The flap for the heel featured a somewhat different slip stitch pattern that I like much better than any other flap I’ve made — it looks kind of like a honeycomb, and that makes me smile.  I’ll be adapting future flap-and-gusset sock patterns to use this flap.

84df2-knit-your-library_2016This project is part of the Knit Your Library Challenge, although Snapdragon Crafts seems to have gone dark and hasn’t provided a link up recently.  Regardless, you can click that badge over there for more details.

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.

Book review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“She breathed deeply of the scent of decaying fiction, disintegrating history, and forgotten verse, and she observed for the first time that a room full of books smelled like dessert: a sweet snack made of figs, vanilla, glue, and cleverness.”
~~~
Pause for a moment and ponder that quote.
.
.
.
.
I’d substitute cardamom for vanilla (because I’m not overly fond of vanilla), but otherwise, yes. This is what books smell like. Imminently satisfactory, is it not?

Charles Manx loves children. He wants children to be happy all the time. He seeks out special children so he can take them to Christmasland where, as you may have guessed, it’s always Christmas and children are always happy. Taking these children to Christmasland and leaving them there has the side effect of keeping Manx young and vigorous, but that’s merely an inconsequential bonus to Manx’s generosity of spirit.

Victoria McQueen, usually called Vic, rides her bicycle as an escape from her tense home atmosphere and warring parents. One day when she is still quite young, she discovers her bicycle gives her the ability to travel across a non-existent bridge and find things. She finds jewelry, and scarves, and photographs, and all manner of lost things. She tells the grownups cover stories about where she finds these items, and as she grows older, eventually comes to believe these stories herself. Because riding a bicycle across a non-existent bridge and coming out miles or even whole states away would be crazy, right?

On one of these excursions, Vic encounters Charles Manx. Manx recognizes Vic’s special talent and wants to take her to Christmasland. Of course, her talent will fuel his continued youth, but that’s not his primary motivation, of course. He has true compassion for Vic’s unhappy life and wants to alleviate her pain and suffering. Really, he means nothing but the best for these special children.

Vic manages to escape Manx. She grows up, grows older, has a child, endures multiple hospitalizations and medications (both doctor-ordered and self-prescribed) to deal with the trauma of her kidnapping and the constant murmur of voices in her head.

Then Charles Manx takes her son. And Vic must summon all her courage to go after him.

That’s the story. But this book is really about love. Vic’s love for her son and for Lou, the father of her son; Lou’s love for Vic and their child; Vic’s parents’ love for her, although she didn’t recognize such love until nearly too late; the sacrifices all parents make to keep their children safe; even Manx’s twisted version of love for the children he “saves”: all of it, every word of this novel turns on love in its many-splendoured and sometimes malformed manifestations.

NOS4A2 isn’t the best book ever, but it’s well worthy of the multiple award nominations it received and it’s certainly worth the time one spends delving into its nearly 700 pages.

Hint: Make sure you read to the very last page. Really. The VERY last page. Otherwise, you miss out.

View all my reviews

This book was read as part of the 2017 Award-Winning Science Fiction/Fantasy Reading Challenge.  Click that badge on the right to see what other participants have read.

Sock yarn plans

100_4685 (2)

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.

100_4688 (2)

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.

Socks! And a shawl.

While I was off work in January recovering from surgery, I went on a bit of a sock binge.  Results below.

temperance-2 First up, the Temperance socks (Ravelry project page).

Pattern: Temperance by Liz Abinante

Yarn:  Footprints by Blue Ridge Yarn, colorway Secret Garden.  Per Webs, this yarn’s total weight for the full put-up is 108 grams. That means it’s 81 grams for the 300 yard skein and 27 grams for the 100 yard skein. When I was finished, I had 18 grams and 8 grams left, respectively.

Total yardage used: 304 yds.

temperance-1Needles:  US size 2 DPNS.  Pattern calls for using US size 1 1/2 needles. I need size 2 to achieve gauge.

New techniques? Yes!  First toe up socks, first short row heel, first time using different colors for different parts of the sock.  I discovered  I don’t like toe up socks.  The cast on and first couple of rows are really REALLY fiddly and annoying.  That was with DPNs.  I may try again using two circs.  Maybe.

Satisfaction with end product:  Pleased!  They fit pretty well, and I’ve worn them several times since completing them.  In fact, I’m wearing them as I type this blog entry. The yarn is soft and warm and comfy, especially after having been washed a couple of times.  The socks come through the washer and dryer just fine; I wash them inside a mesh bag so they’re protected from rubbing against other clothing, and I use the gentle/delicate cold water wash cycle and a low heat dry cycle.

Next, Hummingbird Spring (Ravelry project page).

hummingbird-4Pattern:  Hummingbird by Sandi Rosner

Yarn: Stardust by Magic & Moonshine, colorway “Crocus”. I love this yarn. It’s soft on the hands, comfy on the feet, and has a hint of sparkle when the light catches it just right.

Total yardage used: Roughly 293 yards

Needles: US size 1 1/2 DPNs

hummingbird-1New techniques? Short heel sock #2.  Progress, not perfection.

Satisfaction with end product:  Good enough, even with the following hiccup.  According to the pattern blurb in the book (The Knitter’s Book of Socks), this pattern was written specifically for a “highly-variegated colorway”. They must not have meant THIS highly-variegated because the lace pattern is virtually invisible.  Still, it’s a nicely written pattern, and fun to make. I may try it again in yarn with less contrast in color values.  The completed socks are machine washable (on gentle, in a mesh bag, as explained above) for ease of care.

Finally, Dragonfly and Rosebud (Ravelry project page).

dragonfly-rosebuds-1

You may notice that this photo employs sock blockers.  Yes, I finally bought some.

Pattern:  Veil of Rosebuds by Anne Hanson

Size: Medium

Yarn:  Skinny Bugga! by Cephalopod Yarns, colorway “Dragonfly Tattoo”.  This yarn is amazing. It’s too bad Cephalopod Yarns closed up shop and took down its shingle.

Total yardage used:  274 yds.

Needles:  US Size 1 DPNs

Mods: Medium size called for casting on 56 stitches at the cuff. That’s too small for me, so I cast on 64, knit the ribbed cuff, and then decreased by 8 stitches in the first row of the lace.

New techniques? Still working on perfecting that short row heel.  This technique has entailed a bit of a learning curve but I’m getting better.

pussy-hat-1Satisfaction with end product:  I love how these turned out!  Excellent match of yarn and pattern.  The lace pattern is gorgeous and highly visible in this colorway.  The only issue has to do with the short row heel.  I need to remember to knit the foot a teensy bit longer than I do with a flap-and-gusset heel to make sure the heel turn fits on my actual heel instead of getting pulled under.

Somewhere in the middle of all the sock knitting, I made three PussyHats. Two were dropped off at a collection point for the January 21st march that took place in Atlanta and worldwide, and one I kept for myself for future marches.  You can visit my Ravelry project page here.  Bet you can guess my politics now!

I finished the Cadence Shawlette (Ravelry project page) a couple of weeks before surgery in December.

cadence-4Pattern:  Cadence Shawlette by Emily Straw; 5 full repeats and 1 partial repeat (up to row 21) before the garter stitch edging and the bind off.

Yarn:  Brisbane by Queensland Collection, colorway “Coral Trout”.  This colorway name tickles me:  I can’t see it without thinking of Pete Dexter’s novel, Paris Trout.

cadence-5Total yardage:  288 yds, plus a little extra (see notes below)

Needles: US 9 circs

Satisfaction with end product:  Love it.  It’s warm and cozy and colorful, just right to brighten up drab winter days.

Notes: I wanted to use every inch of the Brisbane, so I essentially played yarn chicken and kept knitting until I thought I had just enough for the bind off. As it turned out, I got 3/4 of the way through the bind off before I ran out of yarn. Luckily, I had remnants of another worsted wool (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted) in a colorway similar to the color section of Brisbane at the bound edge, so I was able to finish the bind off instead of tinking back 200+ stitches.

I’m knitting my library.  Well, mostly.  Maybe you can join us!

Save

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.