This Led Zeppelin moment brought to you by… YouTube
Of course, it’s my blog that was lonely, not you all. You went about your days in ordinary fashion, never even noticing the eight-month absence here. Which is perfectly fine. I don’t really expect anyone to actually pay attention to my ramblings. It’s one of the reasons I feel only marginally guilty when I don’t post for weeks and months at a time.
But I finally found some time to catch you up, the three of you who still read this thing. 🙂
I read all of 34 books and portions of eight others. Three of those are “did not finish” and five are still being worked on.
And I just got home from Stitches United in Atlanta, with lots of new goodies.
At Stitches, I took some great classes, learned how to customize a pattern’s fit to suit me, tackled brioche stitch and Irish crochet, won a door prize, made two new friends, and (as you can see above) went a little crazy in the Marketplace. I had an absolutely fabulous time, and came home inspired and ready to tackle some new challenges.
This summer will include taking a dance class, learning an Irish accent, surgery (nothing major), and traveling to California for my 40-year high school reunion. My intention is to be a little more present around here, post a little more frequently. You know what they say about intentions.
Drop me a note in the comments and let me know you’re still here too!
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.
Satisfaction 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.
This 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.
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.
Needles: 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.
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
New 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.
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.
Satisfaction 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.
Pattern: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.
Total 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!
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.
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.
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.
I abandoned making New Year’s resolutions ages ago because I always ended up breaking said resolutions and then beating myself up for failure. Now I make plans or set goals. Because plans can change if circumstances change and no fault accrues; and if goals aren’t met, any progress made toward those goals is a win. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction.
Reading plans and goals: I mentioned a couple these in Sunday’s Year In Review: Books blog post but they belong in this post as well. My goal is to read and finish 52 books; then write at least a one-paragraph review and post it here as well as on Goodreads. I also want to read more non-fiction. Even though about one third of the books in my house are non-fiction — history, politics, sociology, and religion, mostly — I managed only one non-fiction title in 2015, and that one (Drift by Rachel Maddow) came from the library. Speaking of the library, that’s part of the goal as well: to continue to make use of the library and of books I already own. I simply don’t have room to acquire any additional physical books; and spouse and I have set some financial goals that limit my discretionary spending. What discretionary spending room I have, I prefer to save for yarn. Or travel. More about that later, though.
A couple of LibraryThing Early Reviewer titles rest here on my desk, waiting to be read: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and Get In Trouble by Kelly Link. Getting those read and reviewed will do two things: alleviate the guilt I have for letting them sit as long as they have and add toward the annual reading goal.
Other than those two specific titles, and a general notion toward adding more non-fiction, I have no restrictions or plans for my reading material. In the past couple of years, what I read and the order in which I read it has been dictated by the local library system. I have a wish list, and when a title on the wish list becomes available, that’s what I read next. It’s rare that I don’t have at least one title from the library checked out. Maybe cutting down on the wish list items will aid toward reading down the physical Mt. TBR in the house. But that’s not a priority.
Yarn plans and goals: 2016 will be the Year of Knitting Selfishly. All the knitting I did in 2015 was for other people. This year it’s all about me and it’s all about the stash.* First thing will be to finish the Wildflower Cardigan, an Alana Dakos pattern that’s been waiting patiently for more than a year. The partial sweater is shown at right; the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in Acorn. After that, I want to find the right pattern for a cotton shrug I’ve been wanting to make in a turquoise Cascade Ultra Pima. And at some point this year, I hope to find some use for the two colorways of Rowan Plaid that’s been in my stash for going on 8 years.
*Let me say at the outset that I do NOT pledge to go “cold sheep” — that is, not buy any new yarn — because that’s a sure-fire way to set myself up for failure. What I can do is shop the stash first and, if I go to a yarn store because I’m traveling or because I’m accompanying someone else, I can limit myself to a single skein or two of exquisite sock yarn.
Speaking of finding patterns, I’ve decided to take part in Snapdragon’s Knit Your Library Challenge (click the link to learn more). I’m confident that somewhere within all the pattern books and back issues of knitting magazines filed away in this house is any project I could possibly wish to make. Matching the yarn to the pattern to the mood will comprise a major part of this challenge, I think. Sometimes I want to knit something new, but can’t make a connection between the stashed yarn in my hand and the library patterns that show up in Ravelry. And the reverse is sometimes true: I find a library pattern that I love love love but nothing in the stash works for it. When I have some time to breathe, I will spend several hours matching patterns and yarns and lay them out in an organized fashion. I’ve already got a couple of matches in mind.
Technique goals: This will be the year I finally tackle a Fair Isle project: a little one, like a hat. Three stashed skeins of a fingering weight cashmere blend in complementary colorways are screaming at me, so I want to shut them up. I also want to learn some different sock heels. I’ve always done the “flap and gusset” heel, so a short row heel and an afterthought heel are on my list this year.
Finally, I intended to have this blog entry ready to be published yesterday. Remember what I said at the top of this entry about plans? The universe had plans that trumped mine. I had to take my husband to the emergency room yesterday afternoon: he is currently hospitalized and we expect him to remain in the hospital for several days yet. His condition is not life-threatening — well, not really. I mean, it could be, but mainly it’s a chronic condition that periodically flares up and makes our lives miserable. I’ll be able to catch my breath when he comes home. In the meantime, I’m getting lots of knitting and reading done while sitting by his bed, in between the times I run home to take care of the pets. Thank heavens for an understanding employer.
Pattern:Le Weekend Shawlette by Jan Henry. Click here for my Ravelry project page. The pattern is a bottom-up short row crescent, and very easy to follow, although I made a few modifications. After all the short rows were done as written, I didn’t really like the look of the edges, so I picked up the slipped stitches along the edges (11 stitches each) and continued the short rows until all stitches were knitted (200 total on needle). To mitigate the stockinette roll at the top, I added an eyelet row (K2tog, YO), then two rows of garter stitch before binding off.
Yarn:Miss Babs Cosmic Sock, 304 yards, colorway Swan Princess – hence, the name of the shawl. The colorway was a limited edition “Babette” and is no longer available. The yarn is spectacular with a gorgeous color spectrum and a smooth hand. It had some minor bleeding when soaked for a wet block, but a dash of vinegar in the sink fixed that little issue.
Needles: Addi Turbo 32″ circular, size 7 for the body, size 9 for the bindoff.
Size: After blocking and relaxing, 65 inches wide, 12 inches deep.
Satisfaction with end result: I love this so much I’m tempted to keep it myself rather than put it in the gift pile.
This post is part of Freshly Finished Fridays, a link round-up normally hosted by HardKnitLife, but she seems to be a little late posting the linkup. Regardless, Shadow’s KnitKnacks stepped into the breach. Click the badge to be taken to the roundup. Add your link and read a few others!
2014 wasn’t a productive year for yarncraft. I finally figured out why this past weekend, after Jacquenetta was gone. When she became so ill, she spent so much time in my lap during the evenings that knitting and crocheting came to a virtual standstill. I couldn’t work on projects without getting her fur all over them, but I could read, so I traded yarn for books. Snuggling her for the last few months of her life was worth every moment, and be damned to lackluster productivity in the yarn arena.
Projects finished in 2014: Three.
The first, finished on New Year’s Day 2014, was the Wanderer Scarf, seen here modeled by spouse. The pattern and the yarn are from Rowan. It was intended as a gift for a friend in Washington, and finally was mailed off to said individual shortly before Christmas.
Next was my new favorite cardigan, A Rose in Winter, finished January 31. The pattern is “Buds and Blooms” by Alana Dakos. The pattern calls for endless endless stockinette, but that only serves as a backdrop for the gorgeous details: the buds and vine pattern up the back, the flowers on the pockets, the deeply ribbed collar. I also loved the yarn I used (Chris by Schaefer, now sadly out of business), and that gorgeous pomegranate color.
The only other finished project was a giant granny square baby blanket, made for the new grandbaby of one of my colleagues. I grabbed a variety of high quality acrylic leftovers in my stash and threw them together to come up with the color scheme for the blanket. This is the fastest, easiest baby blanket I’ve ever made, and the pattern become my go-to pattern for quickie shower gifts.
Projects started in 2014 and not yet finished: Three.
The day after the Rose in Winter cardi was finished, I cast on another of Alana Dakos’ patterns, the Wildflower Cardigan, using Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in a deep caramel color. This is another cardigan with vast expanses of stockinette but exquisite little details that make those vast expanses worth the tedium. The back of the cardigan is finished; the right front has been sitting here in my craft room, waiting patiently for me to pick it up again. Soon, my darling, soon.
At Christmas 2013, Mom picked out a blanket pattern in one of my afghan books. In April 2014, she bought the yarn and shipped it to me. Thus, the Tunisian Terror was born. The thing that slows me down with this project is the boredom. Each square is the same: one color surrounded by a border of black single crochet. The pattern calls for some multi-colored squares, but I haven’t got there yet. And each square, once finished and assembled, will be cross-stitched, so there’s some excitement to be had down the road. The finished blanket has 63 squares. I’ve got roughly half of those done.
Come summer, I decided I needed to knit a lacy cotton cardigan to wear over sleeveless dresses, which serves two purposes: warding off the air-conditioned indoor chill that is everywhere during summer in the South; and making said sleeveless dresses appropriate for the office. Yes, I know it’s old-fashioned of me, but some reptilian portion of my brain won’t quite accept that “sleeveless” is now in keeping with professional office attire. I am determined to use this turquoise-colored Cascade Ultra Pima that’s been hibernating in my stash for several years, but have had nothing but trouble in finding the right pattern. I think I’ve started three or four separate patterns with the Cascade and ripped each one of them out after getting roughly five inches into the piece. I’ll keep experimenting until something clicks.
Projects started in previous years but not finished: Nope, not telling. Let’s just say there is more than one (*cough*spouse’s socks*cough*)
New techniques learned:
Tunisian crochet: Learning Tunisian crochet (Tunisian simple stitch only) was easier than I thought. I will no longer shy away from Tunisian patterns, even if they call for something other than TSS, because if I can learn that stitch by reading the directions, I can learn them all!
Mitered squares: This technique was taught me in a class at Stitches South in April. I have yet to put the technique to use, but the instructions and my practice swatches are sitting right here in my craft room, just waiting.
Stash acquired: Um. A lot. A good sight more than I used, that’s for darn sure. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Stash used: Not very much. As noted above, I only completed three projects. I’ll never go cold sheep, because such is beyond my willpower, but this year will probably be a diminished year in stash acquisition because I’m not going to Stitches in April. It’s been moved to Nashville and the travel budget just isn’t available. So, yay for the bank account? And yay for shopping the stash!
So, here we go, 2015! New year, new crafting opportunities, new patterns to read, new AND old yarn to fondle, new techniques to learn or put into practice. It’s going to be a good one.
Blog prompt: Look back on last year’s Day Seven post. Did any of the techniques, ideas and hopes for the last 12 months that you wrote about ever make it onto the hook or needles? Did anyone cast on and complete the project researched in last year’s Day 2 post? One year from now, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?
For next year, I’m putting Fair Isle and The Fall Cardigan back on this list. Also, I want to finally write up and publish the pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts I designed as a gift several years ago.
I’ve gotten multiple requests for this pattern, but have procrastinated writing it up for so long that I may have lost my initial notes on the project. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I originally designed the mitts in a bulky yarn and have since decided a lesser-weight yarn is a better choice.
Blog content-wise, I’m considering a return to magazine reviews. I pared my knit and crochet magazine subscriptions down to two (from a high of seven), Rowan and Vogue Knitting. Back when I had so many subscriptions, I was trying to review each magazine as it came in. That meant upwards of 30 magazine reviews per year, which resulted in a stack of unread issues sitting next to the computer, giving me guilt. I don’t need more guilt, thank you very much, so I stopped the reviews. Vogue and Rowan only may be manageable: Rowan publishes two issues per year, and Vogue publishes five (six if you count the special crochet issue, but that’s not included in the subscription). Writing timely reviews will require a certain amount of self-discipline. I’m not good with self-discipline, and I need to be, because the next step for this blog — not next year, but within the next five — is to turn it into something that generates a little income. That means content other than me running my mouth about my latest project or the last book I read. It means patterns and tutorials mainly; perhaps little stuffies, if I ever design any. I don’t expect to make excessive bank here, just enough to cover the domain fees.
And that’s quite enough ambition for my little corner of the interwebz.
As Blog Week draws to a close, I just want to say I appreciate each and every one of you who’ve dropped by during this past week. I found a few new bloggers to follow and hope at least one or two of you enjoyed my articles as much as I’ve enjoyed yours. See you around! And y’all come back now, y’hear?
Five squares done. Well, technically, they’re rectangles, but I’m not going to argue semantics here. There’s not a chance in hell this blanket will be finished for Mother’s Day. Or for Memorial Day, either, which is the next time we’re planning to visit Alabama. I have to make 63 of these frakkin’ squares! And then sew them together and cross-stitch all over them. Wait, cross-stitch, then sew. Regardless…Mom, count yourself lucky if you get this by your birthday in November. Yes, I owe you a margarita. Several margaritas, in fact. Because this:
5 down, 43 to go, but I’m not tired of making these little squares yet, so no further progress has been made on the Wildflower Cardigan. We’ll see how things go in the next week.
This post is part of the WIP Wednesday round-up, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there to see the progress other folks have made this week.
I read through the pattern once more before chaining a single stitch and discovered I had missed something the first go-round. Something really important: the majority of the colorwork is applied AFTER the crocheting is done. A few squares have minimal crocheted color changes, but the rest of it? It’s cross-stitch! Can you say major sigh of relief? I knew you could.
The technique isn’t hard, but it is time-consuming. I crochet faster than I knit, so I’m accustomed to flying through a crochet piece. Tunisian is much slower than regular crochet, so I’ve only finished one square and started on a second in three evenings of work (haven’t made a stitch as of yet today, but that will be remedied once this blog entry is posted). For someone who’s accustomed to whipping out one or two crocheted afghan squares in an evening, it’s a little frustrating. But this is a new technique, too, so maybe my speed will increase with practice.
It’s amazing how much Tunisian looks like a square of stockinette knitting. A far thicker fabric than a square of plain stockinette, but still… And the back even has “purl” bumps. What do you think of that? I think it’s pretty cool.
As you may have guessed, the Wildflower Cardigan has gone into hibernation for the nonce. I may alternate between the two projects: do four or five squares on the afghan, knit several inches on the cardigan, lather, rinse, repeat.
I left off just at the point where I was to start the pocket on the right side. The pocket linings were knitted first; now the exterior flap with its pretty flower motif will be made and the lining attached. Note to self: remember to read through the entire directions on the pocket again when you return to this project.
Today’s post is part of the WIP Wednesday round-up, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there to see what other fabulous projects are in the works.