Tuesday, July 18, 2017

TdS 2017: Stage 1, day 3

Not quite as far as I'd hoped, but not too shabby neither.

Monday, July 17, 2017

TdS 2017: Stage 1, days 1 & 2

A-ha! I bet my silence about this year's TdS led to the conclusion that I wouldn't be participating this year.

It actually was sort of a close call. I taught another Spring session class, and last year I found that interfered with my ability to sockrace, during the first half of the event, so I was thinking of sitting this year out. Then the event got moved - starting on 15 July, as opposed to the 1 June starts of previous years. Well. My class has long since wrapped up, so away we go!

Still, a Saturday start isn't great for me, as always - as documented in the pitiful progress photos. The first handful of speedy pairs were clocking in on Saturday evening, and I had about half a toe. Oh well. I now have the foot and heel of one sock, and am about to start the second, so I can take the required picture of the unusual construction for both socks at once, thus proving that I actually did it as written in the pattern for both socks. I need to take about an hour's break from knitting now to do a bit of tidying in the kitchen, along with a wee bit of exercise, but then I'll be back at it. I hope to have another finished foot and heel by bedtime tonight, and then tomorrow I can bust a move on the legs, and hopefully finish early enough to score some points. (The points scale got rejiggered again, as there are now over 2,000 racers - now I need a top 400 finish to score more than one point per round. I'd really like to do so; I'm knitting from stash this year, so sponsor yarn points are unlikely.)

Ahem. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get a move on.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

K'done: Valanar hat

Hmm, I seem to have forgotten to blog this one.

Pattern: Valanar Hat, by Elena Nodel
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted, in Merlot Heather
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

I knit this hat back in, oh, January - according to my Rav notes, I got it done in about a week, using a couple of skeins leftover from my Thursday Special sweater. (Another one by the same designer - apparently I rather like her design aesthetic. Sadly, her battle with cancer ended in tragedy just last month.) I'd actually done it to participate in a KAL at the time, but I think I started too late and missed the deadline or something.

It was a fairly quick knit - generally hats are, no? The cable pattern is intuitive enough that you can avoid being a chart slave, and it seems to me to be a pretty unisex sort of cable - maybe there will be a Mister hat done using this pattern in the future? I'll have to have him take a closer look at it. One thing about bigger cables is they tend to leave holes behind in the fabric where the stitches cross, and sometimes these let wind through, and he has strong feelings about that with his hats. Understandably, but it sure makes it tricky to find a hat pattern he likes that isn't just ribbing from brim to crown.

TdS 2017 in 6 days!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

K'done: Laurel cardigan

I really hope layering cardigans never go out of style.

Pattern: Laurel Cardigan, by Amy Christoffers
Yarn: Jojoland Splatter Dash, in Ginger
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

Well, if they do, I guess at that point I'll just look like I belong in a different time period. There are worse things in life.

When I first saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to make myself one, and my mind immediately leapt to this yarn that I had in my stash, but I hesitated. As written, this sweater is meant to have a LOT of positive ease - in the sample shots, there's a lot of fabric swirling around the model/designer. Even though I have and wear and frankly love sweaters with big swirly fronts, I'm pretty sure I don't want sweaters that are just sort of big all over, which can lend a sort of infantilizing little-girl-wearing-her-mother's-clothing vibe.

So, I thought I might try it in a slightly trimmed down version. First up, my gauge was 20 sts to 4", instead of the 19 called for in the pattern. With that, I figured I'd work the S, and it should work out about right. (I suppose I could have gone the other way, with a gauge of 18 sts to 4", and worked the XS.) I also figured I'd run into a yarn supply problem - I had 1100 yards (5 skeins) to work with, and the pattern listed the smallest size requiring a few yards shy of that. So to improve my odds of completion, I shortened the sleeves too, by 2", to eliminate the overlong/folded over cuffs.

With the exception of the cable panel, the whole thing is worked in moss stitch - the kind that isn't seed stitch - and this lends the piece a delightfully nubbly texture, giving the impression of a particularly comfy, squishy cardigan. I found that my sleeve pieces seemed to sort of bias a bit off the needles - or maybe that was a trick of the eye, since everything worked out just fine when I seamed them, but it did require that I pay a bit more attention when measuring length as I made progress. The side-to-side construction of the sleeves and top half of the cardigan's body also made it challenging to sort of measure off against myself, as I didn't have a good sense of where the underarms were supposed to hit. Initially I assumed that the underarms of the sweater should hit my actual underarm, but this made no sense - I don't have particularly long arms, yet armpit to wrist on me is roughly 18", so my 16" sweater sleeve looked short, but the pattern is written to have overlong arms at 18"? I trusted the logic of my adjustments rather than what the measuring tape was telling me, and it worked out in the end.

The top pieces of the sweater are joined using a three needle bind off, and I did it to have the seam facing outward, since it seemed to my eyes that that's what was done on the sample piece, and since the cable panels travel in opposite directions, I wanted a clear visual separation at the point where they met. I had to sort of futz my picking up of stitches for the peplum/bottom portion of the body, since I'd slipped all my selvedge stitches - I like doing this whenever I need to seam pieces, and honestly I like it for picking up too, it just messes up the pick up rate. My futzing involved figuring how many stitches I was able to pick up from the available loops, determining how many more I needed to match up with the pattern, figuring the rate of insertion for the extra stitches, and then putting them in with yarnovers, which I then twisted on the return row to close them up. This seems to have worked well, and I'll have to keep this strategy in mind for future use - which is why I've put it here. In the past, I've just picked up extra loops, but this makes the fabric pieces join up a bit differently.

Ultimately, I didn't have enough yarn to finish the sweater as written, even with my shortening of the sleeves. The pattern has you work 6" from the front edges for the collar/pseudo button band, and my sweater only has 3", at which point I panicked about how much yarn was left for the applied i-cord edging, so I just launched into that. In the end, I have about 4 g of yarn left over - I suspect it's not quite enough to have done one extra row, never mind an additional 3". When I tug the fronts gently towards each other, they meet, and if I tug a bit more firmly I can make them overlap a bit, but if there were buttons it probably wouldn't look nice if I buttoned the fronts closed. Since the sweater isn't meant to close, it's totally fine. In fact, one nice thing about the smaller collar is I don't end up with lots of fabric bunching up or folded over around my neck.

Tech specs: Chinese waitress CO, double chain BO on bottom hem, applied i-cord edging on fronts and collar.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

K'done: Alice cardigan

Am I caught up yet?

Pattern: Alice, by Ela Torrente
Yarn: monika design Cashmerino Soft, in Laurel Leaf
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

Oh man. According to my Rav notes, I actually bound this sucker off in August 2016. I had started it in March - March 2, to be precise - as a sort of consolation prize to myself, as I had learned that I had not been shortlisted for a new job that I wanted. This little open-front cardi had been in my queue for a while, and it looked like a pretty good choice for a self-soothing knit, so I wound up some yarn and was off to the races.

It knit up fairly quickly too, I think - apparently I had roughly 75% of it done by early April. Most likely I knit the body, and then progress dropped off as I dithered about how long to go with the sleeves, and then it sat in sleeve purgatory for a little while. The sleeves were finally done by mid-May, and then it sat in waiting-for-final-bindoff purgatory until August. Once that was done, it sat in waiting-for-blocking purgatory until a couple of months ago - it seemed silly to get a short-sleeved sweater ready in the dead of winter.

As you can see, in the end I knit the sleeves a few inches longer than the pattern specifies, because I wanted to use up more of my available yarn. Initially I had wanted to exhaust all that I had, but I lost interest in that somewhere along the way - probably about an inch or two before starting the ribbing on the first sleeve. I also omitted the buttons - admittedly, it would probably look a bit more elegant on me if I put some sort of closure at the collar, but I am me, and closures are hard for me to get organized for, so sweaters become wearable much more quickly if I just ignore closures altogether.

I quite like the flower detail at the yoke, but am less enthused about the flower panel near the hem - just a personal taste thing. I considered leaving it out, and thought about it until I realized I was nearly finished it, at which point I thought it might grow on me, so I should leave it. The shaping also gives my sweater a bit of a bustle effect - it doesn't actually pooch out over my posterior, but the flow of the fabric tricks the eye into seeing an enhanced booty, flatteringly so on someone like me with a somewhat deficient booty to begin with. (No booty picture because though I tried to take one, I wasn't thrilled with the result, and am therefore exercising my right to not commit it to the Internet.) My slipped stitch edging came out different on the two different fronts, somehow - one side is tighter than the other, and so that front off-the-needles was a tad shorter. I was able to block the difference out, but I'm unsure as to where the discrepancy came from in the first place.

This yarn has apparently been discontinued, which is sort of too bad, because it's quite nice to work with, but it does pill pretty easily, so maybe that's not such a terrible thing? Today was my first wearing of the sweater, I wore it to work, and it's got a few pills from where my handbag rubbed against it as I walked. Then again, I used this yarn in my Caramel cardigan too, and while it also pilled in certain spots on that sweater, generally it's holding up well, and it sees fairly frequent use in the fall/winter/spring months. I still have one more batch of this Cashmerino Soft - somewhere, there's a DK-weight sweater pattern that wants to be paired with this yarn. Like destiny.

I'll find you. In my dreams.

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.