Monday, September 28, 2015

K'done: misdirected cowl

Looks like I need a new video game knit.

Pattern: misdirected cowl, by Liz Abinante
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk, in Corsage (pink), and a one-off (grey)
Needles: 4 mm / US 6

I started this cowl way back in June, as a video game knit - the Mister was going to play Catherine, a game in which the protagonist (Vincent) finds himself faced with a choice: further his relationship with his longtime girlfriend Katherine (who is pushing him towards marriage), or pursue something new and exciting with a sexy young thing he meets at his usual bar one night, named Catherine. I thought this pattern would be well-suited to the whole this-way-or-that-way aspect of the storyline, so I set about making it so.

A problem presented itself pretty early on - the Mister didn't particularly care for the gameplay, which is basically a stair-climbing sort of puzzle: the player needs to make adjustments to a large collection of blocks to transform them into a staircase-like structure that he can use to escape the dungeon he finds himself. Can't take too long though - there's a beastie of some sort climbing up from below and demolishing blocks as it goes, and if it catches up to you, it's game over. The beastie can also sometimes launch attacks from a bit of distance, so extra care is sometimes needed. This isn't his usual kind of game, but he wanted to finish the story, so he asked me to set the knitting aside so I could pay extra close attention to try to help him with his block manipulation. (This didn't always go so well. For one thing, I'm not super good with these sorts of puzzles. For another, his perspective is not my perspective, so sometimes I'd say Pull out the one from the back and he'd totally pull out a different block, because he interpreted back as behind Vincent and not what I'd meant, which was that block that is further towards the back of the pile and we'd be hooped. Sometimes, the time crunch led to me saying super helpful and specific things like Move that one there and he'd have no idea which block I meant, and he'd guess, and guess wrong, and then we'd be hooped.) So not a lot got done with Catherine.

Then he moved on to Infamous: Second Son. Again, there's some character development throughout the gameplay that is in the hands of the player: depending on the choices the player makes, the protagonist (Delsin) either becomes famous for his heroic acts, or infamous for his nefarious misdeeds. I chugged along with the gameplay, but there were moments when I just couldn't knit, there was too much going on. (I often get a little too invested in these storylines. There may have been a moment in which I teared up a bit.) Gameplay wrapped up, but the cowl was still not done.

Next up: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This one I was not so invested in. The gameplay was fairly quick, and the first person shooter perspective messed me up - I would get a wee bit motion sick if I tried to knit during playtime. I put a few rows in, but nowhere near as many as I was expecting. This game differed from the previous two, in that there's no choice the player makes about how the story proceeds or the character develops. It did have something in common with the previous two, though: Troy Baker. Troy Baker provided the voice of Vincent. Troy Baker provided the voice of Delsin. Troy Baker provided the voice of Mitchell - though Mitchell didn't really talk much, we mostly heard him grunting with pain or exertion. Still, Troy Baker. I joked that this was turning into the Summer of Troy Baker. (We had previously heard his voice in Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us. Dude is busy.)

Sadly - or maybe thankfully, depending on your perspective - the next game ensured we did not experience the Summer of Troy Baker. The Mister put Tomb Raider (the latest reboot - might even have been the Definitive Edition) in, which does not feature Troy Baker as anyone, never mind Lara Croft, and we worked our way through that. Again, there were moments in which I really couldn't knit, but I got a fair bit of the cowl knocked out by the time we had completed the game - and we actually went back to find all the little hidden doohickies for 100% completion. This is not something that happens often! I guess that's a testament to how much we liked it.

Then, we moved on to Assassin's Creed: Rogue (again, sans Troy Baker). I wrapped up the cowl with that one. We're still playing it (so no spoilers please!), but we're close to the end, I think.

But. Um. Back to the cowl.

I liked the concept of this cowl, but not enough to actually follow through on it completely, for I am lazy and avoid weaving ends wherever I can. The pattern as written has you change colours several times, but I did a half-and-half cowl - I knit with colour #1 until I didn't have enough for another repeat of the lace motif, then switched to colour #2 and did the same. Once I had my two halves complete, I seamed the cast-on and bound-off edges together with mattress stitch. So mine is perhaps not as misdirected as intended - more of a bipolar cowl, I suppose.

The knitting was fun, but it felt like it ran rather long, or maybe that's just me and my mild aversion to knitting back and forth with no shaping. I have no problem with plain knitting in the round, and I have no problem with knitting back and forth when there's shaping to keep track of, but a straight shot seems to sort of wear on me. I have no explanation for this. Consequently, I was quite pleased when I was done with this one.

My cowl probably has a larger circumference than if I had followed the pattern more closely - I haven't measured to check - and it is indeed a rather tall cowl. I have yet to really wear it, but I think that day is coming pretty soon. All in all, I'm quite pleased with this one.

Which is good. Because not all is super awesome in my own personal knitty-land.

But that's a story for another day. For now, laundry beckons.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Picky picky

Today, I was at work, between classes, catching up on a couple of things, and then I hit a point where I was sort of caught up on the super urgent stuff, but not able to wander off in search of soup for my lunch because I had to stay in my office for another fifteen minutes. I passed the time with a little internet surfing, but I could feel some stirrings that have made themselves known to me getting stronger, making me sort of restless, as if my brain were itchy on the inside.

I realized that I really, really, really wanted to knit something.

Now, I'm pretty sure it would not go over terribly well if I were to take knitting to work. I definitely wouldn't be able to knit in class - I talk with my hands too much, I'd end up just throwing the knitting around a whole bunch - and between prep work and marking, there's not much time left in my office, and it seems like it would just open a great big can of judgment from my colleagues. I keep the door open most of the time I'm in there (to be available for students), and I have this impression that others wouldn't be super pleased to glance in as they go by and see me knitting. Or, they'd think I have so little to do that I am bored, and they might try foisting other projects on me. Please no.

So I leave my yarn and needles at home - I drive to and from work, so no knitting in the car. Maybe once the weather turns too cold and I'm driving the Mister to and from work as well I'll pack a project in my bag, since waiting time is fantastic knitting time. For now, though, I go alone, sans knitting.

Today, though, I'm feeling this growing desperation to KNIT, but there's a problem: I don't want to knit on the things I'm currently knitting.

What is on the go right now? A sweater for me that has a problem I'll tell you about later because it needs pictures to do it justice. A pair of socks for my sister. A sweater for my sister. A stole for the Mister's mother's Christmas gift.

What's wrong with these projects? Other than the sweater with the problem, that is?

For whatever reason, my desperation is for a basic knit - knits, purls, maybe some increases and decreases, but that's it. At this moment, I don't want to execute fancy, clever stitches. I want something plain, or maybe with some knit/purl texture.

The socks for my sister? Cables. The sweater for my sister? Cables. The stole? Well. I'll come back to that one another day. It's another adventure that deserves more detail, but suffice it to say for now that it doesn't seem to scratch this itch.

I've been thinking about plain stockinette socks. I've been thinking about Sun Prairie for my sister, and when I showed her the sample images last night, she liked them, and confirmed that she would like to have a sweater like that, but she sort of had this look about her like Why are you planning out new knits for me when you've got two still in progress? Plus a third that just needs its freaking buttons?

Or maybe I'm projecting a little.

After my second class today, instead of trying to get a little more prep work done before leaving campus, I decided to just hightail it out of there so I could come home and knit my brains out, to get that satisfied feeling of having soothed the brain itch. But starting a new project seems sort of wanton when there are other things around here that would do well with some of my attention.

So I've been sort of mentally flailing around, while knitting nothing. My brain still itches.

I think, perhaps, I will go bake a cake, then clean up the cooking detritus in the kitchen, and then after that, maybe I can get a grip on myself and settle down to knit something.

Edit: I didn't bake the cake. My brother started messaging me and I spent the baking time chatting with him. Oh well.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I have things to show you.

There's a sweater update I want to share.

There's another blocked thing that needs its completion post. It wasn't finished over the summer, but the bulk of it was knitted over the summer - the latest video game knit.

There's, um, a couple of other blocked things that need photo shoots and completion posts.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home today, the sun had passed that point in the sky where it nicely lights up various spots in my home, so pictures aren't happening. Maybe later this week.

In the meantime, I've returned to another sweater that was on pause - one I started for my sister before we moved earlier this year. It sort of got set aside in favour of knits for me after the move, and I've hit that point where I start feeling bad about having done that. I've also got a second sock of a pair in the works for her, and I'm feeling a little guilty about those still hanging around, but I must confess, it's hard to drum up a whole lot of sympathy for someone who isn't getting her handknits fast enough, especially when it hasn't exactly been a lean year for her - she's gotten a sweater (that I started a few years ago, but whatever), a cowl/shawl/wrap thing (that has yet to be photodocumented here), a shawlette, and a pair of socks. Sure, I've knit more for me - six pairs of socks (TdS!), three cowls, and a cowl/shawl/wrap thing, but I'm the one doing the knitting, so I feel like I am permitted to be selfish with my time. This is a thing I do for fun, and some of it happens to fall her way. This is not a thing I do purely to improve her quality of life.

Still, I feel like getting these wrapped up will feel good, and she'll be happy, and also her stash is starting to rival mine, so I feel a bit compelled to knit it down, especially since she's running low on sock yarn, which means I should start watching for sales so she can stock up a little, even though the exchange rate is truly terrible right now. I should get her to pick her next sweater. It's well and truly fall now, I feel like knitting sweaters.

If I'm being completely honest, what I'd like most is to knit a sweater for me, but there are obstacles to that at the moment. For now, let's just put it this way: I've seen others state that experienced knitters do not, in fact, make fewer mistakes, they make bigger mistakes faster. If that's true, then maybe I now fall into the category of experienced knitters.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

K'done: the autumn stone cowl

Thing the fourth!

Pattern: the autumn stone, by Reiko Kuwamura
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk, one-off colourway
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

This was the second cowl I knit while in BC in August. Another four day knit. Holidays are awesome.

This knit features a pick-up-a-stitch-below motif that stretches out those picked up stitches, causing the fabric to buckle and warp while creating a serpentine, cable-like effect. The result is a dense, textured fabric that doesn't have much lateral stretch. When the cowl is flipped inside out, you can see the wrong-side effect of all that warping: columns of little pillows, looking all enticing and inviting.

The pattern includes detailed instructions and pictures to try and clarify how one works the picked-up stitch, but some of the wording I found a bit puzzling - namely, at one point, she instructs you to pick up from 'the wrong side', but that's clearly wrong, judging from the images of the sample piece and other finished objects on Rav. It may just be a small translation hiccup - I don't speak Japanese, so I'm not sure what the original phrase might have been.

I made a small modification to the pattern, in that I worked fewer rounds of ribbing at both ends of the cowl - at the beginning because I was impatient about getting to the showcase stitch, and at the end to have the two ends match, and also to allow for as many repeats of the showcase stitch as I could with the yardage I had. I managed to squeeze in 6 sets of crosses. Because the fabric is so dense, it tends to stand up when I wear it, but the yarn is soft and the gauge isn't actually tight, so the piece doesn't feel stiff or firm.

Tech specs: Chinese Waitress CO, double chain BO.

I'm debating making this part of my first-day-of-classes ensemble, but we'll see. I'm not committed to anything yet, wardrobe wise. Though I should probably figure it out soon - tomorrow's the day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

K'done: forest park cowl

After a break for the long weekend - thing the third!

Pattern: forest park cowl, by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Gedifra Extra Soft Merino Grande, in Dark Grey
Needles: 6 mm / US 10

I've had a hankering for a big, cozy, cabled grey cowl for a really long time. I just didn't think it would end up being this cowl. As soon as the pattern was released, I knew I wanted one for my collection, but I thought I would make it happen with a skein from my madtosh tosh DK holdings. This summer, I decided it was time to put my plan into action, and I started collecting candidate skeins and opened up the pattern, and took a look at the recommended gauge: 16 sts to 4" in garter rib.

And I paused.

That seemed like an awfully loose gauge for DK yarn. Normally, I would probably just cast on anyway and see how I like it as I go - after all, it's a cowl, no big deal if I have to pull a few rounds apart if I can tell I don't like the fabric I'm getting and rethink before proceeding. The thing is, though, I was packing this to come with me to BC for a week, where if my plan didn't work out, I'd be stuck with nowhere to go - no stash to sift through for alternate yarns, no needles to change out to get a fabric I like and then adjust the pattern to match. Realistically, I suppose I could have packed a few other sets of needle tips. But I couldn't just take my stash with me.

So I thought about that big gauge, and I scrolled down my Rav stash minder page, which I've got sorted by weight, so I went down to where the bigger yarns are, and I noticed I had 5 50g balls of the Merino Grande. I had bought 8 of them some years ago, thinking they'd be good man hat yarn, but the Man in question didn't care for the colour - he can see purple undertones in the grey, and feels it is a 'girly grey'. I knit one hat for him in it, and he wears it for outdoor winter chores, like shoveling, but if he's going to be seen, he reaches for a different hat.

So the remaining 5 balls were not to be man hats.

So why not make them into this cowl? I caked them up, joining three together into one massive cake and the other two into a smaller cake (because my ballwinder couldn't handle anything bigger than what three added up to), and put them in my suitcase along with all the necessary tools.

When we arrived at our destination in BC (the Man in question's parents' place), I settled in by unpacking the yarn and tools and casting on. Four days later, I bound off and wove in the ends.

This pattern was a great choice. Nice, memorizable cable motif, with 2x2 cables that can be worked without a cable needle no problem. Once you've worked several repeats, you work some increase rounds, and the result is a bit of flare at one end of the cowl, which will either enhance the slouch, as in the first pic, or allow you to pull the cowl down over your shoulders, as in this shot, without having large amounts of fabric flopping and bunching near the neck. (Not that that's necessarily a bad thing - I have many cowls that are straight tubes, and I like them all!) I did smooth it out a fair bit in blocking - it was pretty squishy and scrunchy off the needles, but the blocked item is flatter and drapier. I never did really check my gauge - a 6 mm needle gets me 16 sts to 4" in stockinette, and that's what I based my needle choice on. With all the cables, some may find the fabric a bit stiff (I did use bulky yarn, after all), and it was pretty stiff off the needles. I'm quite happy with the drape I got once it was blocked.

Tech specs: I worked a Chinese Waitress CO, used Russian Joins, and a double chain BO at the end.

It will probably be pressed into service pretty soon - the temperature has definitely come down into knitwear territory here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

K'done: Divergent Series cowl

Thing the second, brought to you by the wayback machine.

Pattern: Divergent Series, by Jenny Faifel
Yarn: scraps of Dream in Color Smooshy, Fleece Artist Merino 2/6, madelinetosh tosh sock, and Shibui Sock
Needle: 4.5 mm / US 7

This project was a MKAL that started on March 23, 2015, and according to my Rav project page, I finished it on May 3, 2015. I think I even talked about it a bit here - I wanted to block it, but felt compelled to finish a sister sweater first? So yeah. It got blocked, and then we moved, and I sort of forgot to blog it until now.

It's a very simple but super fun knit. Well. Fun if you like stockinette, which I do - who am I kidding, I like it all - so I had a really good time with it. The construction has you knit it flat with back and forth rows, and in the end it all comes together in a big loop with no seaming or kitchenering required. There are a several ends to weave in, particularly if you're using lots of different scraps.

The finished object is also rather massive. I found myself tossing it over my shoulders as a single loop a couple of evenings earlier this summer, when it got a bit chilly for my liking, and I sort of wore it like a poncho. (You need to be a bit careful wearing it like this, though, because the top opening is really too large for this thing to really qualify as a poncho.) Otherwise, I like to wear it doubled like in the first photo, with a comforting mass of wool bunched around the neck, and some fabric dipping further down. Because of my colour choices, it actually looks like I'm wearing two cowls instead of one doubled up on itself.

To be honest, I wasn't at all sure I'd like the end product because of the scrappy nature of my stripes. This was really an experiment in using up scraps, and I figured even if I didn't care much for the cowl at the end, I could keep it in my office to toss on when it gets cold in there. As it turns out, I actually like the dual nature of the cowl I got, and I'm still going to take it to keep in my office, but I may not be so quick to take it off before heading off to class.

Well. We'll see. It is still pretty scrappy. But it does make me happy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

K'done: Artesian Shawl(ette)

Eek! Catching up! Prepare for a parade of knitted things.

Thing the first:

Pattern: Artesian, by Romi Hill
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh sock, in Betty Draper's Blues
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

I know. These pictures are not great. What can I say, I snapped them before handing the scarf over to my sister, and she's worn it once or twice since then, but I neglected to recognize the photo opportunity. We were on vacation, I didn't have my iPhone handy.

So. This was actually finished over a month ago - I cast on way back on June 10, and it was done before sockracing was done, but not by much, I don't think. My memory's fuzzy on the finish, and things were so hectic at the time that I neglected to enter the completion date on my Rav project page. Oh well.

What do I remember? I remember having a bit of trouble with stitch counts - I didn't pay very close attention when doing the fishnet panel the first couple of times, and found myself with an extra stitch when I got to the end of the row. Couldn't tell you what happened - I had to pull it out and redo it, counting very carefully as I went, and then magically it was all fine. This pattern has you cast on a bazillion stitches and place a gazillion markers to serve as landmarks for the short rows used to shape the shawl, and I checked my markers and they were all placed fine, but somewhere in the giant unmarked field things had gone off the rails. Either way, if one pays a bit of attention, there will be no problems.

Other than the number troubles, this was a very nice relaxing knit, and I am quite pleased with the finished object, though I wish I'd been able to squeeze the fifth repeat of Chart A out of my yardage. Four repeats of Chart A used up 80 g of yarn, and each repeat is a bit bigger than the last, so I reasoned that the remaining 20 g wouldn't be enough for a fifth repeat (since each one used on average 20 g) plus Chart B to finish it off. Maybe if I'd used smaller needles and more aggressive blocking? I did my usual gentle block, and skipped the suggested step of starching the shawl. I think I ended up with about 15 g of yarn remaining. The shawlette is admittedly smaller than I would have liked, but my sister seems to like it, so I'll call it a successful project.

Tech specs: Chinese waitress CO, double chain BO.