Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Smokity smokes

My calendar says it's May now. How can that be?

Where did March and April go? Not that I want them back - there was a fair bit of work that was done in that time that I'd really rather not have to redo, thanks, but still. How is it already May?

So, yeah, hi there. What have I been up to lately, knit-wise? Not tons - see above comment about working, but it wasn't the crazy pile that I fought through last October/November/December, so I do have something to show for it, just no pictures just yet. Some pictures may never come to be. There was a pair of Mummy socks that are long gone to their owner now, and I'm not sure she'll let me do modeled shots with them. There was a scarf/shawl/wrap thingy for Sister, that is also gone to live with its owner now, and while she will let me take pictures of her wearing the thing, first she has to wear the thing on a day when she's here early enough that there's still some light - though that's been getting better, now that we're making our way to the summer solstice. I finally blocked a sweater I finished last year, so I should be able to do up a long overdue post about that soonish. I still need to take pictures of that hat I made in January - provided I can figure out where I stashed it. I'm pretty sure I know where it is. It's just been a while since I last wore it.

I've started another sweater for me, and another sweater for Sister - no big surprises there, and no, I haven't finished that other Sister sweater that still needs sleeves yet. I'll get there eventually. Maybe this summer will be it, so she can have it for the fall. We're getting to the point where a merino-cashmere blend pullover isn't super practical anymore, but it will be nice and cozy in a few months' time. Right?


Man. I can't believe it's already May.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

K'done: Volga cowl

Another long overdue post!

Pattern: Volga, by Jenny Faifel
Yarn: Handmaiden Bess, in Ruby Red
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

I don't remember how I discovered Jenny Faifel's designs, but they're all pretty fabulous, and she keeps releasing new ones that send me digging in my not-so-mini-anymore stash, so I joined her Rav group so I could be somewhat in the loop on her designer activity. I had my eye on Volga and had the good fortune of picking it up in a freebie giveaway, and then last summer, noticed she was running a KAL that it qualified for, and figured, why not? I was sockracing at the time, but the start date found me waiting for the next stage to begin, so I wound up the yarn and went for it, figuring I could knock bits out between sockracing stages, and then finish it up afterwards with plenty of time before the KAL deadline of mid August.

And I did get a goodly chunk knit up, so that by the time we were entering August, I had about a third of it done. But then we went on our annual trip out to Vancouver Island, and I was planning my vacation knitting, and looked at the cowl chunk, and then turned around and dug out yarn for sister socks and a different cowl. I even grabbed yarn for father socks to cover me in case of underyarning - which I ended up needing. Our time at the Mister's parents' place is typically fantastic for knitting time for me - we just sort of bum around relaxing a lot, politely declining his parents' suggestions that we get out of the house to go for short walks to look at things that we've seen before. (They worry that we are bored, and consequently won't come back in the future. We have told them repeatedly that we would be making suggestions if we were growing tired of loafing around their house. They respond to this by saying, 'Yes, it's nice to have some relaxation time on vacation, if that's what you want. But, if you'd like, we can always drive over to (insert activity locale here), if you'd like a change of scenery...')

So why didn't I take this cowl? I honestly couldn't tell you. We got back, I got busy, missed the KAL deadline, finished up the cowl save for binding off the final stitch, and then it sat in the basket beside my bed for months - since I'd missed the deadline, I no longer felt like there was any big hurry to do the finishing. Eventually, I picked it up, pulling out the last few stitches in the process, re-did them, bound off, wove the ends in and blocked the sucker.

And I love it. It was a very meditative, satisfying knit, and the finished item is fabulous. If I'm actually wearing it out and about, I'll wind it around my neck twice - the bigger end of the cowl gives shawl-like coverage, with the smaller end cozied up close, but not tight. I haven't worn it lots yet, so I haven't yet figured out the optimal way of wearing it to really display the eyelet panels that run asymmetrically along the piece. In that first picture I've just got it flung over me as if it were a poncho, to show them off, and if I were just sitting I could do that for warmth, but it wouldn't likely stay like that.

The yarn is a bit fuzzy because it's Handmaiden Bess, which has some cashmere content - 12% - that is going to fuzz up even more with repeated wearings. It's wonderfully soft, but we'll see how it resists pilling over time. If it even resists at all. Cashmere can be that way.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

K'done: Winter Sea Shawl

Um. Happy New Year?

Pattern: winter sea shawl, by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal, in Thunderhead
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

So, around October of last year, I sort of found myself buried in work stuff - I was teaching a new-to-me class that was particularly demanding since assessing the students required reading a number of reports that they would write. As if that weren't enough, I was also splitting my teaching load between two campuses, so there was some extra travel time that ate away at the available hours of the day.

Which brings us to here - out the other side. At least I've got something to show for my period of silence!

I can't remember when I first became aware of this pattern - the Rav page for it was created 10 January 2015, so I feel like it was probably around that time - but I distinctly remember being immediately intrigued. It's not super easy to see from these shots, but this is an asymmetrical triangular shawl, which I had not yet played with, and Abinante notes that it is surprisingly easy to wear. I thought it looked like a nice meditative knit that would produce a cozy accessory, but wasn't sure about what to pull from the stash for it - I don't stash much worsted weight yarn, and when I do, it's in roughly sweater-sized batches, and I didn't want to annihilate a potential sweater for the sake of a shawl. I thought about pursuing it with a DK weight, but the gauge gave me pause - is 20 sts to 4" too loose for DK yarn? I've done sweaters at 22 sts to 4" and been fairly happy, and sure, a shawl can be knit at a looser gauge than a sweater no problem, but this particular shawl isn't lacy, so maybe the fabric shouldn't be super loose? Instead of, you know, winding some yarn and trying it, I just put the pattern on the back burner for someday. (In hindsight, DK would probably have been just fine - I've knitted a few cowls with DK on 5 mm needles and been totally happy with the resulting fabric. Then again, a cowl is not a shawl, either. Hmmm.)

Fast forward to last September, when I started walking to one of my work places - the campus isn't very far from my house - and I was enjoying the walks, but started to think ahead to colder temperatures, and what I might want to help me keep walking because parking is expensive and it seemed particularly stupid to drive five minutes and then pay $6 to park the car for 90 minutes when I could just walk for 25 minutes and pay nothing. (In the end, the weather we had last fall cooperated beautifully, and I only had to drive during the last week of classes, because it was -20 C out (-30 C if you factored in windchill), and it's just not safe for a human to venture out for 25 minutes in those conditions unless she is really, really bundled up, in a way that I'm not equipped to do. Sure, I'm Canadian, but I'm also a Canadian who lives in a major city who works indoors and is accustomed to driving to wherever she needs to be. I don't have the sorts of outerwear that those who work outside invest in.) Still, at the time, a great big worsted weight scarf seemed a good idea, so I turned my attention to the yarn problem. As it happened, I had an odd batch of the Swish Tonal - I had ordered a bag of 10 skeins, but what I got was two partial bags cobbled together, so the yarn came from two different dye lots. I used a little over half of it to make a sweater, but what remained was about 2.5 skeins from one dye lot, and 2 skeins from another. It occurred to me that I could just use what was left to make a couple of biggish accessories, and so I put the 2.5ish skeins towards this shawl.

The stitch motif is a simple knit-purl texture, and though the pattern repeat is sort of long - 12 rows, if I remember correctly - there's a logic to it that lets you cruise along without needing to consult the pattern frequently, and also makes it super easy to figure out where you are in the repeat when you pick it up after having had to set it aside for a bit in favour of mundane tasks like eating and sleeping. I didn't follow the pattern very carefully in terms of how many overall repeats I did - I just kept going until it looked like the amount of yarn I had left wasn't going to see me through another half repeat of the pattern, at which point I bound off.

The super scrunchy off-the-needles piece blocked out beautifully, and I've worn it twice to work since officially calling it done on 10 January 2017, and I gotta say, I like this asymmetrical triangle shape. It allows you to get a lot of length for the amount of depth the shawl ends up with, which helps the ends stay put once you artfully furl them about your neck.

Tech specs: I bound off using a double chain bind off, and I cast on just using a long-tail CO - you only cast on, like, 3 stitches, so no worries about stretch or other edge finish properties, really.

And this semester, I'm totally the weirdo with all the knitwear. I think I've managed to wear something handknit (not including socks) every single day. (With repeat items, absolutely - I haven't got that much! I'm working on it though, heh.)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

K'done: Boxing clever cowl

This is getting to be an annual thing, it would seem.

Pattern: Boxing clever cowl, by Susan Ashcroft
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk, in a one-of-a-kind colourway
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

We seem to have gotten into a routine of sorts - every year, we spend 10 days out on Vancouver Island with Mister's parents. Two years ago (2014), I knit a cowl, and found it to be a pretty perfect project for the trip. I had just come off the Tour de Sock, so the massive gauge change was welcome, and it zoomed along so much that it was executed in its entirety within the bounds of the trip - I cast on a day or two after we arrived, bound off and had all the ends (well, there were only two) woven in well before we were packing up to head home, without an all-knitting-all-the-time mentality. It was great. (For the record I also knit a pair of socks for my sister on that trip.) Last year, I took two cowl projects with me, and that worked well too, except I didn't do any Sister socks that time around, which was fine by me, but I felt a bit bad for my sister.

This year, I remembered the guilt from the no-Sister-socks of last year's plan, so I dialed down the cowling to just one, and knocked out a pair of socks on the trip as well. I actually came perilously close to being underyarned, only avoiding it by bringing along some yarn to start a pair of Poppers socks, which I suppose means I wasn't underyarned at all in the end - I was just this close to not bringing that second batch of sock yarn. I was gathering up my supplies the night before we left, and I put my cowl yarn and Sister sock yarn into a bag, and held it up to show Mister, and he eyed it and asked me if it would be enough. I believe my response was: I can't knit through all this in 10 days! He arced an eyebrow at me, and I sighed and grabbed the extra, thinking I wouldn't need it but better safe than sorry. (He got to do a bit of I-told-you-soing when I cast on with the Poppers sock yarn.)

This was a great little cowl to work up - easy to memorize knit-purl texture pattern, so once you get everything set up, you can just put the pattern away and chug along until it's time to bind off. Once again, I found the texture to be deeply satisfying to work up - again, I suspect it's a sort of palate-cleansing effect after all the varied intricacies of the socks of the Tour. According to my notes, I only spent about three days on it from start to finish, and I did do other things over the course of those three days besides eat, sleep, and knit. A nice achievement boost project.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out, but in the end, I'm not keeping it. As I was working on it, Mister's mother commented on it a few times, expressing admiration for the colour, and saying, Boy, I sure get lots of nice comments when I wear the one you made for me. (I made her a cowl for her birthday earlier this year. I never blogged it because I never got a good picture of it before giving it to her.) So I quietly asked Mister if I should set this cowl aside to be part of her Christmas present. He thought it would be a nice addition, so long as I wasn't going to be sad to see it go. Well. I must confess, I'm always a bit sad to have knitted up yarn leave my possession, but seeing the joy and appreciation in the recipient brings me much happiness and satisfaction. So it will be hers.

Tech specs: Chinese waitress CO, double chain BO. The skein had a knot in it, which I untied and then rejoined the strands using a Russian join.

Yup. There will be more summer getaway cowls.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

K'done: Oblique cardigan


Pattern: Oblique, by Véronik Avery
Yarn: Dream In Color Classy, in Chocolate Night
Needles: 5.5 mm / US 9

Well. This sweater has been taking up headspace for me for rather a long time. According to my Rav project page, it took me a year and nearly two months to crank this one out. Not exactly a prompt knit. But remember, there was some drama involving me failing to read one of the pattern directions properly, which led to me producing an 85% incorrect sleeve along with a 100% correct back and 100% correct sleeve. There was a period of hibernation while I deliberately ignored the evidence of my carelessness, and then I decided I wanted the sweater enough and ripped back the bad sleeve to fix it.

You may notice that in the above image, the ribbing looks a tad crinkly on the would-be-button bands - I say would-be-button bands because I left off the buttonholes, since I have no intention of buying buttons for this piece. It's a layering cardi for me, and doesn't need to close, which means I can skip the part where the sweater sits forever in button purgatory because I can't be bothered to get myself down to a button store and buy the flipping buttons. But back to the ribbing - it's not blocked. This sweater's construction has you sew the main pieces - fronts, back, sleeves - before picking up for the collar and button bands. Since I like to block pieces before seaming, this means that the sweater was mostly blocked when I finished up with adding the ribbing, and I'll wear it a bit before giving it another wash, which should settle the ribbing a bit.

It may also be apparent that I did some downsizing of the pattern here. In part for aesthetic reasons - I didn't want a swimmingly big cardi - but also for the very practical reason of yarn chicken. I had 1000 yards - 4 skeins - of the yarn, and I had looked at others' versions on Rav, and one of the overarching themes of the comments seemed to be Eats more yarn than pattern suggests, and the pattern suggested that the smallest size should eat 936 yards for the smallest size, which was still bigger than I wanted anyway. I decided to ensmallen the XS version: I took away the foldover cuff on the sleeves, I shortened the sleeves to something like bracelet length (I'm always tugging my sleeves up above my wrists anyways), I shortened the body, omitted one waist decrease set and its corresponding increase set, omitted one row from the collar, and my gauge was a bit smaller than as written in the pattern, at 18 sts to 4" as opposed to 17. The resulting sweater doesn't cover my bum and has maybe 0.5" of positive ease - quite different from the modelled sample.

Clearly, I succeeded in making the sweater happen with my yarn supply. How close was it?

Um. Yup. That's all the yarn I had left when all was said, done, and seamed. Not very much at all. The ensmallening was clearly a necessary move for successful sweater completion.

The pattern was nice and clear, though I'm not sure about the pick up rate suggested for the collar and buttonbands - the designer recommends picking up 4 out of 5 stitches, which I did, and it all worked out fine, but it was only after I had finished with the collar that I remembered that I lopped a good three or four inches of length out of the body, so I should have quite a bit fewer stitches on those buttonbands than the pattern said I should have. I didn't. Since the collar is done after the buttonbands, I would have had to pull it all out in order to go back to try and correct the buttonbands, so I just left it. It doesn't seem to be flaring right now, and I'm sort of counting on the somewhat flexible nature of ribbing to save me in the end - I'm thinking I could block the ribbing to be slightly compressed to avoid flares or weird ruffles.

Oh, I also didn't do the very bottom edge of the buttonbands correctly because I failed to consult the pattern fully. Once I got set up in k2tblp2 ribbing, I just went with it. The very bottom two stitches of each buttonband are supposed to be knits on the RS, but on my sweater they're purls. Oh well.

This batch of Classy is a batch of 'old' Classy, which means it's a bit scritchier. I'm wearing it over a short-sleeved tee in these pictures, and it was a bit irksome on the arms. I guess that means I'll probably only wear it with longer sleeved tees underneath. That's okay. I still think it's a pretty nice sweater.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Seam away, seam away, seam away

I'm sitting here in my chair, sewing the last seam on my Oblique cardi.

I finally got the second sleeve finished at some point after returning home from our trip to BC, and blocked the sleeves, and then on Monday the seam-fest began. I did the raglan seams, and sewed up one sleeve, and that was it for my crafting time that day. Yesterday, I did the other sleeve, and that was it for my crafting time for the day. Today I've done one of the side seams so far, and what you see in the image above is the second side seam, which I intend to wrap up once this is posted.

While some avoid seams wherever possible, I have no objection to them. There's something rather satisfying about executing a nice seam. My first attempt at seams using mattress stitch are abysmal, because I didn't know what I was doing, and rather than ask Google and have a look at the myriad resources available online, I just winged it, doing what seemed right. It totally wasn't. I was picking up the legs of my selvedge stitches, so the seams were completely visible. Maybe I'll get over my pride and show you one day.

Today is not that day.

Once I stumbled upon some resources and read a bit on how it was supposed to go, my seams improved dramatically. I'm not sure I was ever the sort of person who shied away from a pattern because it promised seams, or the sort of person who rejiggers a pattern written with seams to be done seamlessly instead. Now that I understand it, seaming is a smooth, methodically relaxing process - much like knitting itself, I suppose. When I was a teenager, I went through a counted cross-stitch phase - I'd had a few little needlecraft kits that I'd worked my way through when I was a bit younger, and the last one ended in frustration when I ran out of yarn before the piece was finished. (I had intended to contact the kit's manufacturer to obtain the needed yarn, but I was twelve, and so never got around to doing that.) I then stumbled across some counted cross-stitch pattern books in a craft store, and it was like an epiphany - instead of relying on a kit to supply me, I could just select a motif and then buy what I needed! I think there were a few more kits along the way - in fact, I know I have an unfinished piece sitting in a box somewhere - but there was a definite shift in my crafting at that point, one where I took greater control of my projects.

This seaming I'm doing isn't the last step on this cardi, unfortunately. I still need to do the button bands (sans buttons) and collar. And I'm a pretty slow sewer, but it's not yet noon - maybe I'll have time to do some of that after?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

K'done: Entanglements socks

Aaaaaand here's the home stretch!

Pattern: Entanglements, by ShaylaMyst
Yarn: Invictus Yarns Master of My Feet, in Ambitious
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Cables? Cables!

These socks were a fun knit, though I didn't get them done as quickly as I'd hoped. The pattern is written as an embrace-the-random sort of pattern - you set up 7 cables on the toe of the sock, then for each cable cross round, you use a randomizer to pick out 3 cables, and flip a coin to determine the crossing direction of each cable. Neat concept, though I found I didn't care for a truly random execution - and in some cases, you have to un-random things to get something that works. (For example, two adjacent cables can't cross towards each other at the same time.) One of my socks is closer to true random, the second is more pseudorandom - I allowed for random selection of the cables, but controlled the crossing direction so that I could avoid two adjacent cables moving in the same direction, or avoiding two cables coming together. (The pattern has directions for how to handle two cables coming together for those who prefer to stick closer to true random, but I just didn't use it for the second sock.)

These are done toe-up, but nothing in the pattern hinges on that, so if a person were more inclined to do a top-down version, they'd have no trouble. There may be a pair of these in my sister's future. And maybe my mother's future.