Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A great big plan

I'm still here. In the chaos of an unpacked and super cluttered house, waiting for the new-to-me house to be ready for us to move in. Trying very hard not to remember that the original estimates for moving in were for December of last year. (Well, honestly, the guys figured end of November, but even I could see that that was a pipe dream.)

And I have so far successfully not cast on something new - all my yarn is still contained within the cabinet. And, um, its boxes. In fact, I'm even thinking of taping up the boxes, moving the cabinet yarn into more boxes, and then taking it all over to the new house and just sticking it in the basement for the time being. The idea is to try to move as much of our stuff as we can in small trips, and the yarn is sort of the most pleasant stuff to consider doing this with, since everything else will require some sorting and organizing.

I haven't yet finished up the two sweaters for my sister, though. Largely because I've been spending more time surfing the Rav pattern database looking for things I want to make with the yarn I already have, because the budget constraints of our current housing situation mean I really should avoid buying more for a little while, and one of the Mister's friends came by last weekend and happened to see the yarn cabinet and exclaimed, "That's a LOT of yarn!" Which means I caught a bit of grief from the Mister. I better knit the stash down a bit.

So, I've firmly told myself that once we've moved, and the semester has wound up - which might happen at about the same time - I'm going to treat myself to a lot of knitting time. There are many things I'd like to make.

1. Oblique, by Veronik Avery

2. Atelier, by Heidi Kirrmaier

3. Forest Park Cowl, by Liz Abinante

4. Winter Sea Shawl, by Liz Abinante

5. Morrígan, by Beata Jezek

6. Windward, by Heidi Kirrmaier

7. A yet-to-be-determined laceweight shawl, to be a Christmas gift for the Mister's mother

8. Six pairs of socks - TdS 2015!

9. A couple of sock design ideas I've had that I want to play with.

Phew. Now that I've written it all out, it's quite the list. With no items for my sister. Probably a couple of those will get added at some point.

Getting through all of this in one summer is most likely a pipe dream, too.

Ahem. Challenge accepted.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

That thing

You know how it is - you're chugging along on a second sleeve, making decent headway, and about a third of the way through it or thereabouts, you hold it up in front of you, and smile a satisfied smile because you can see the end of this sleeve in the not-terribly-distant future, and then you hold it up against the completed first sleeve, and you keep smiling at your progress.

And then you count how many decreases you've already done, but the number doesn't seem to jive properly. So you count the decreases on the completed sleeve, with the smile sort of frozen on your face, and that's not working out right either. You look more carefully at those two sleeves - or, well, sleeve and partial sleeve - and notice that your decreases don't seem to line up.

And then the smile is gone, and you're counting the decreases, and yes, the numbers are absolutely wrong, so you start really closely examining how many rounds are between those decreases, and realize that you miscounted or something when you picked up the first sleeve to finish off the last two decreases, so the last two decreases are placed every 9 rounds, but the first ten are placed every 8 rounds, and what you've been doing on the second sleeve is every 9 rounds, which is why they don't match up and why you've got so much sleeve with so few decreases.

So you set the whole thing aside while you have a think about how you feel about the sleeves not matching, with the part of you that just wants to be done saying in soothing tones that at this gauge a few stitches' difference isn't going to result in drastically different sized sleeves, while the part of you that wants it done right is insisting that the sleeves should absolutely match, especially since this is a sweater for your sister.

And then you give yourself a shake, yank the needles, and rip back to the first decrease to reposition it, realize it was already positioned correctly, redo the round that really hadn't needed redoing, and carry on from there.

Yeah. That.

I think I'm back on track now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Patience is a virtue

And we all want to be virtuous, right?

I know. I haven't been here in over a month. What can I say - December happened, as it always does. In my line of work (teaching at a university), December means final exam season - so the first week is spent frantically trying to tie courses up in tidy packages, then we move on to the crush of preparing, invigilating, and marking final exams and submitting final marks. As that's going on, there's the holiday season to prepare for - trying to get cards out on time (I got mine done, except for one for a friend that I thought I should write a little note to go with, and, well, the card is still sitting on my living room table and the note still doesn't exist. Whoops.), organizing gift acquisition, wrangling the wrapping in time for the gatherings at which gifts will be exchanged. Plus the actual get togethers. I was a bit lucky this time around - our house is still a disaster zone because the renovations at the new place still aren't done (but they're close!) so we're still here surrounded by boxes, which means people are not really expecting invitations for large holiday gatherings. So I didn't have the additional layer of meal planning/prep/cleanup to worry about.

Now, we're out the other side, the end of the renos is (sort of) in sight, and I have a plan.

Remember how I mentioned being mildly obsessed with a shawl? Oh, you know, in the last post I made before this one? Well, that obsession still lingers - so far I have successfully avoided casting on - but it's been joined by a couple of other projects I want to make. (Okay, fine. Three. Another shawl, a cowl, and a hat.) I'm still trying to hold off on casting on something new for myself until we get settled at the new place, and that seems to have turned my desire into something just shy of desperation. It's taking a whole lot of willpower to not yank several skeins of yarn out of the cabinet and start winding like crazy so I can cast on like crazy.

What am I doing in the meantime? Well, lucky me, I have a couple of sister sweaters in progress - one that I'm really enjoying, and one that is in sleeve purgatory. Sigh. I may make better headway with the latter in the next little while, because I'm starting to think it really really needs to get finished - not just because I'm sort of mentally done with it, despite the fact that it still needs an entire sleeve in addition to the one that's mostly done plus the neckband and hem ribbing to be done once the front panel is seamed in, but also because one of the projects that I sort of desperately want to start in on is a hat for me, and I want to use the DPNs that are currently in service for the aforementioned sleeves.

I'm trying very hard to be made of stuff stern enough to not just yank the needles from the sleeves so I can make my hat.

This is proving to be especially difficult because the yarn for the hat is actually wound up. I got it out and ready for use because I thought I would need it for a contrast hem and neckline for a sweater I finished up just before the calendar rolled over. (I do hereby solemnly promise to blog it once it's been blocked.) I ended up ditching the contrast idea, but the yarn didn't magically re-skein itself, so there it sits, all ready to go, strongly suggesting that it would make such a cute hat.

I may have to hide it away in the cabinet. For now, sister sweater sleeves should be my destiny.

For now.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mildly obsessed


I've nearly finished a pullover for me. I'm on the second sleeve, there are a few more inches left, and then I need to use whatever yarn is left to finish off the bottom hem, and then I need to sift through my leftovers to see if I can find something I like to do the edging on the neck because I'm pretty sure I'll run out of yarn. Maybe if I find something with sufficient yardage I can use it to do the edging on the bottom hem too, because this is gonna be another squeaker.

I've finished one of the pair of socks for my sister, and cast on for the second - I cast on as I waited in the returns section of Ikea today. I didn't wait very long, though, so I only managed to get the cast on and three rounds done before my number was called.

I've also cast on a pullover for my sister - working the bottom ribbing.

Plenty on the knitting docket.

So why can't I get this shawl pattern - Morrígan - off my mind? I haven't knit a shawl in a really long time because I sort of lost my shawl wearing mojo a while back - I have a few shawlettes that I suddenly couldn't wrap around my neck without seeing them as giant bibs, and that sort of neutralized my desire to make more. Maybe the period of abstinence has done the trick.

Either way, I'm envisioning Morrígan worked up in a slightly heavier yarn - sport weight - with a smaller discrepancy between needle size and yarn weight to yield a slightly more substantial piece. Honestly, when the idea struck I imagined cranking it out in time to wear to this year's office Christmas party, but that's in 6 days' time, and I'm not that delusional.

Still. It's taking a lot of willpower to not start winding the yarn.

And there's good reason for me to hold off on winding, because we're looking to move to our new-to-us, newly renovated house within the next month. That means a whole lot of packing is in my very near future. Which means unleashing more yarn is probably a bad idea.

Maybe I'll be able to hold off till after the move. Maybe I'll be able to dangle the promise of the new project as a reward for all the hard work that's going to come with moving. (Because really, moving sucks hard.)

I know. I'm not holding my breath either.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

K'done: Shandon Cowl

I'm still knitting! Just, you know, not as much as I'd like.

Pattern: Shandon, by Beata Jezek
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal in Blue Yonder
Needles: 5.5 mm / US 9

I wanted to crank out a relatively quick but satisfying project, and was flailing about trying to pick one for myself, so my sister got one instead. She is not complaining.

Textured cowls with just knits and purls are apparently wildly satisfying - at least, for me. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of knitting this, and I may knit a smaller, not-blue version for myself - I prefer wearing cowls as a simple loop about my neck, where they perform as accessories through which I attempt to snazzy up my simple tops for work appropriate attire. My sister, however, wears cowls as snuggly warmth-providing accessories, so when she saw the sample picture with the model (the designer, I think?) cozily bundled up with this piece, she was sold.

I knit it as written in terms of number of stitches used, but I sort of stopped looking at the pattern once I got the chart in my head, so I'm not sure how deep I was supposed to go - I went until I had pretty much gone through a second skein of yarn, and then stopped at a logical place in the pattern. It ended up being 4 repeats of the chart, with an additional batch of the first 4 rounds. The result, laid flat, looks like this:

Well, that's what it looks like in the rather yellowy light we have here - the sun is now setting by 4:30 PM, which means I have no window of opportunity for photographing knits in natural light after I get home from work. So please forgive the colour quality, but check out that texture! That there is an unblocked piece - sister likes it unblocked since it scrunches back on itself so strongly, so it hugs her neck nicely when wrapped twice. Since the yarn is superwash (and dryer tolerant), I figure the way to retain that fresh-off-the-needles scrunchiness is to toss the piece in the dryer on a low setting after washing. We'll see how it goes.

Tech specs: Chinese Waitress CO, double chain BO. I really like this pairing.

She likes the finished piece so much, she wore it to work today - I handed it over last night! She happily reported receiving many compliments on it from coworkers too. Life is good.

Monday, October 6, 2014

K'done: Nanook Cardigan

It is ridiculously tricky to take a picture of oneself wearing a sweater in order to show off said sweater using a smartphone camera.

Also, my vanity demands that I clarify that that odd lump near my waistline is my belt under my top - not some weird tummy tumour.

Pattern: Nanook, by Heidi Kirrmaier
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, in Cocoa Kiss
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

Fall makes me crazy for sweaters. The air gets a chill, and suddenly I want to knit eighteen new sweaters for myself so that I can be perpetually wrapped in cozy wool. Too bad for me, fall is back-to-school season, which puts me back in the classroom, with all the responsibilities that come along with that, meaning I don't really have the time to knit all the sweaters that scream for my attention, and the ones that I do manage to squeeze in take their shapes somewhat slowly. Usually the sweater bug starts to nibble at my brain in August, and sometimes that leads to me whipping out a sweater in the month before my schedule gets clogged with work responsibilities, and I get to rejoice in having a brand new knit by me sweater when sweater weather truly hits.

This year, pounding out a sweater in August turned out to not be possible, but by some stroke of luck I had a couple of sweaters that I'd started earlier in the year that had lingered into summer. This was one of them. I started it way back in January, and worked on it here and there until the heat of summer, the Tour de Sock, and the realization that the yarn would not last forever hit, and then in a fit of yarn chicken I set it aside. I picked it up and finished it in early August, then washed and blocked it and set it aside for a time when I could wear it without melting.

That time is now.

I love it. I hope this trend for swingy open cardigans with oversized fronts sticks around for a while, because now I've got three of them, and I am dreading the day where I can't wear them anymore without looking horribly gauche. I may opt to close up the cardigan using cufflinks one of these days, but that day hasn't come yet.

The knitting was great for this one. The Bear Track lace was fun to work, and the chart was memorizable. Once you're done with the lace, you transition to stockinette for the back of the yoke, and garter for the fronts. I must confess, I was a tiny bit worried about garter stitch on a sweater, but it's just right for the big floppy fronts of this one. So squooshy. I modded the decrease rate on the fronts - instead of decreasing every 6 rows, I decreased every 12, to keep the fronts big. I briefly contemplated not doing any decreases at all, but figured the designer put them in for a reason (to prevent the fronts from getting too heavy), so I figured a rate that was half of the pattern as written would be a reasonable compromise. If I were to close the sweater up, the bottom corners of the fronts would just barely meet.

Tech specs: I used a (now-standard for me) Chinese Waitress CO and double chain BO throughout. My gauge was off - I knit this at 20 sts to 4" instead of 18 - so I knit the M1 size (36" bust), hoping the smaller gauge would bring it down closer to 33", which is what I'd need for zero ease. I haven't actually measured the finished garment, but it fits me, so I'm calling it a successful gauge tinker. (I have since learned that a 5.5 mm needle would actually have gotten me target gauge, but oh well.)

A note on the yarn: Dream in Color has recently changed their Classy base yarn, and what I used was the old Classy. Truthfully, it's a bit scratchier than I would have liked, which I suppose is what prompted them to find a new softer base. The scritchiness played into my decision to use this yarn for this cardigan - with another top on underneath, it's not typically against the skin, so I don't notice the scratch factor. I have worn this sweater with just a t-shirt underneath, and the skin on my arms seems to tolerate it well enough, but I do feel a bit of a prickle here and there. I don't have any of the new Classy to see how it compares, touch-wise. Maybe I should get some.

How's that for justification?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

K'done: Goodbye California Cowl

Every time I think of the name of this pattern, I get Dani California stuck in my head.

Pattern: Goodbye California, by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK, in Firewood
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

I knit this cowl in three days. Three. From cast on to bind off, including a few minutes to weave in the ends. It sat for a long time before I was able to block it, and the first day I wore it I didn't get a chance to take a picture with decent light. Today seems to have worked out, though, and I am so happy to have this cowl in my collection.

I made this while we were on vacation on Vancouver Island, staying with the Mister's parents. I remember as I was packing for the trip, I had the supplies for a pair of socks for my sister, and the supplies for this cowl, and I wondered if I had packed enough for the ten days we would be there, and gave myself a little shake, reasoning that I don't really knit that quickly, this would be plenty.

And then I knit this cowl in three days.

Yes, I did run out of knitting on that trip. It was okay, though - I ran out of supplies two or three days before we flew home, and the flight's a short one, only an hour and a bit. I suppose I could have aimlessly knit a crazy long stretch of i-cord with the remnant yarn from the socks. Instead I responded to the lack of yarn by devouring October Daye novels - I think I read three of them over the whole trip, burning through the third and a good chunk of the second in those days without knitting.

But back to the cowl.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed knitting this cowl. The whole thing is textured with just knits and purls, and in preparing for it I was a little worried that after the adventures of the Tour de Sock, I might find this one a bit underwhelming. Clearly, that was wrong. Once I cast on, I didn't want to put the thing down. The texture pattern is fairly easy to memorize - once you've got it set up there's a logical rhythm to the knit/purl placement in order to achieve the overall effect, so I didn't need to look at the chart very much even in the early rounds, and once I'd completed an entire repeat I don't think I ever looked at the chart again. (Maybe a peek or two, if I was too tired to think about what should come next.)

Maybe it was the charm of the yarn, or the logic of the texture pattern, but I found the execution of this one to be deeply satisfying. I generally find the act of knitting soothing, calming, and entertaining all at once, but this one really pulled me in. I really really like the finished cowl, too - it's completely reversible, so I'm never worried about whether it's gotten twisted the wrong way. In fact, the only way I can tell which side is supposed to be the right side is by looking for where I wove the ends in - I took care to weave them both in on the same side, the original wrong side. I'm so pleased with this project that I kind of want to make more cowls with this pattern, using up more of my Tosh DK mini-stash.

Tech specs: I used a Chinese Waitress cast on, and finished with a double chain bind off. I worked for as long as I could until the yarn ran out - in the end it amounted to 3.5 chart repeats, with a small amount of yarn leftover, possibly enough to add one extra round, but I wanted to end at a point that was logical for the texture pattern, which would have been either at the halfway point in the chart, or at the end of the chart.

I may indeed make more of these. It's hard to justify, though, when there are so many other cowl patterns in my queue.

In the meantime, I'm trying very hard not to gain a reputation at work as That weirdo in the cowl.