What a difference a weekend away with friends and wine and lots of yarn makes.
Especially the friends and the yarn (which I might have rolled in a wee bit--Keri is demonstrating for photographic purposes, but I also participated).
This winter seemed to be a series of minor knitting disasters which I chalk up to a combination of lack of inspiration and just plain old tiredness from overwork. Now Spring is here, I'm getting more exercise (I'm back on my bike and back to a sensible running program), and I have some pretty new yarn to serve as inspiration.
I'm making Carnaby Street--a comfy, loose spring sweater with kicky stripes and a bit of fun knitting.
After much fussing with a more neutral palette, I chose the colours that beckoned me the minute I saw them: Indigodragonfly Uber-MerGoat in Squid Vicious (blue) and Already Frogged (green).
It's tricky to photograph, but this one is about right. The colours are bright but not crazy. Just like me ;)
I'm so much back to knitting: the back is done and I'm at the armholes on the front in a mere two weeks.
This yarn is FANTASTIC. Soft, pretty, easy to knit with. Read about the MerGoats here (they're special). I'm actually thinking of how possible it would be to have this sweater finished this weekend (I'm so back, I'm delusional).
I think I'll consider more of this yarn at the Knitter's Frolic. That's more realistic.
Oh ya, I'm even spinning a bit. I took poor Imogene out of my room where she has been stashed since the kitchen renovation and started on some pretty fibre. I remembered why I bought the Little Gem--it's a sweet wheel.
Feels good to be back doing the stuff I love.
I'm happy to report two finished objects that I am rather pleased with.
I finally finished the <="" a="">Willow and Oz knee socks I started in October.<="" a="">
Randomly striped knee socks are definitely nifty, but these were a slog. I think it was the knitting with two balls of yarn. Not portable and a bit fiddly.
Emma loves them and that makes me happy. The colours are fantastic: Indigodragonfly merino sock in My world is all askew and Hootenanny: Well it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.
And yesterday I finished something nice for me:
Sweetums fingerless mitts in beautiful Indigodragonfly merino silk. This is not a colour I would pick for myself. That the nice thing about clubs. They push you outside of your normal boundaries. Now that they're done I love them. The colour is so pretty (top photo is more accurate; it's hard to photograph your own hands).
These were the ones I stumbled on a few weeks back. Once I got over that it was smooth sailing and for a little bit I felt like I had my knitting groove back.
They're very warm and cozy. And sadly, still needed. Actually, it was too cold to wear them today.
I think I'm going to stick with some small things, it feels good to finish some pieces that I'm happy with.
This winter has not been a great one for me knitting-wise. I've made a few accessories that were just okay, but not much else, and I haven't had a project that really grabbed me.
Well, I shouldn't say that because working on Oshima was pretty great. Until it wasn't.
I think I need a knitting win.
Knocking off a quick WIP was the plan last week. The kids were at my Mom's for the March Break (and yes, it was fantastic), I had all of season two of House of Cards to watch and plenty of Indiodragonfly Smart Ass Knitters/World Domination one skein projects to choose from. I got back to the Caulking arm/leg warmers and got to it.
I finished the first one and dove into the second one. Then I took a little break and started the Sweetums fingerless mitts. All was good.
Until it wasn't.
Apparently I can't read. I missed an entire line in the Sweetums pattern and didn't notice until 48 rows later when I couldn't figure out where to put the thumb. I was silly enough to write to the designer and it wasn't until she explained it that I noticed I missed the line in the pattern.
While Sweetums was working itself out I finished both House of Cards and the second armwarmer. Tried them on, did the photo shoot and then noticed something wasn't quite right.
The second armwarmer was a full repeat (8 sts) bigger than the first one. (No I didn't write down what size I was making, who does that?!).
I actually turned off the tv and counted the repeats on the first one twice to confirm the number: 56. When I was casting on, I distinctly remember doing the math in my head as I distributed the stitches on the dpns. 16 per needle. Because 16x4 is totally 56.
Except it's 64.
Twelve inches, ripped out. I casted it on properly and it's in the travel knitting pouch. I'll get back to it.
Sweetums is coming along very nicely. Almost done the first one.
I hope this goes smoothly now. I'm tired of so many mess ups of the easy things that I've been doing most of my life like reading and counting.
I have to face facts. I'm not going to have enough of my special over dyed cork to make Oshima. The yarn was specially over dyed so there is no more. I've been hoarding it because I love Cork and the colour is so fabulous.
Finding this out earlier (or rather, getting past my denial earlier) would have been nice since I have the sleeves done and am almost at the neck shaping on the body.
Instead of abandoning it completely I'm thinking I could make a plainer sweater. I love the brioche stitch but find it too stiff with the Cork at this gauge and it EATS yarn. I also have 3 skeins of orange cork that I could use too.
I figure these are my options:
Option 1: knit on and use the orange cork in the cowl. I could still be short of yarn and this colour combo could look weird.
Option 2: rip back the brioche stitch on the body work the body in stockinette to generally conform to the pattern, knit the collar in brioche or even just rib I lose some of the design but get a big cozy sweater.
Option 3: put the the whole thing in a bag and put it away. Next Fall find another pattern for the cork (probably a Custom Fit) and find another yarn for Oshima (this pattern is fantastic). To console myself, immediately cast on something that I know will work.
Right now I'm voting for option 3. Especially the casting on part.
Thoughts? I think I need some knitter perspective.
Guess who's finally coming to Toronto?
She's a knitter
She's an author
She's one of the original knit bloggers
She's fun, and fantastic and I love her to death...
Rachael Herron!!!!! (muppet flail)
I'm pretty sure this was the last time I saw Rachael--Rhinebeck 2009--which seems too long ago!
I can't wait to get inside this book. I know Rachael is really proud of this one.
If you haven't read Rachael's Cypress Hollow books, you should have a look at those. That series turned me into a person who reads romance novels. They were happy, funny, light-hearted, engaging stories with some fine, steamy love scenes.
I think we owe it to her as readers and knitters, to show her a good time while she visits Toronto. Who's with me?!
I've been thinking about my poor forgotten blog a lot lately. I have no intention of giving it up, even if no one reads it. I've been writing here for 10 years and still like the process of coming here and writing a few things, marking moments in my life with photos, cataloging my fibre-pursuits and the emphemera of my life.
The sad thing is that when there's too much going on, I don't have the time (or more rightly the energy) to compose a post, upload and edit the photos and contribute to the space that means a lot to me.
In the last month there's been more time spent on work than is normal and than I like and it's been duties that take a lot of mental effort on my part. Sadly it's sapping my energy to even knit some nights, so instead I read tweets or mindlessly play spell tower which makes me feel even less ready to face another work day. The weather has been cramping my small desire to exercise, another blow to morale.
This weekend, I did some fun things and hope they'll recharge my energy levels and get me moving both physically and emotionally. I went skiing for the first time in 20 years and it was fun! I've only skiied half a dozen times and i was expecting a minor disaster. Instead I had a great time and I'm not even very sore. The kids and Craig tried snowboarding and we all got plenty of fresh air and time away from the pressures of work and school.
There's no pictures--we were all too busy! But here's one from our Sunday walk out on a frozen Lake Simcoe.
(I posted a few more on Instagram--I'm docsteph)
I used to think I didn't like winter, but now I realize I don't like typical grey soggy damp Toronto winters. That bright snow and blue sky were so gorgeous.
Let's not be so crazy as to believe I don't want this one to end; another week of really cold temperatures, no biking and little motivation to run isn't what I want. But having the chance to be out doing fun things in the snow is pretty fantastic and got me back here to write a bit.
Now I'm going to cast on the body of a sweater. Let's see of I can get my knitting groove back too.
Not a good way to start the morning:
I must have been a bit rough when I was putting on my beloved Grey Mist Bohus. I heard a bad ripping sound and it looked like this.
It was knit top down and I had broken the yarn on the hem bind off. Some stitches had started to unravel.
To add to the complexity, I had modified the sweater awhile back to fit me better and the sides are steeked. This means I couldn't just rip back the whole bind off and do it again.
I will also say that at 9 sts to the inch that didn't seem necessary to fix 2 inches of hem, so I concocted a different plan.
This morning I made the repairs. It was easy enough that I took the time to have fun with the Halftone app and did a little photo essay.
Step One: Capture all the stitches.
Bohus yarn is 50% merino, 50% angora so the stitches aren't really going anywhere, but I needed them all on needles so I could have something to work with. I put the last bound off stitch on a marker and picked up everything not worrying if they had unravelled more than others. I just needed to get everything on the needles.
Step Two: Fix All the Stitches
Now I took the time to arrange all the live stitches, knit up any that had dropped and to make sure I got them all. This is not so easy with tiny fuzzy yarn, so I made sure I was thorough.
Step Three: Unravel the Bind Off a Bit More
I didn't have a lot of yarn on one end of the broken bit so I unpicked the bind off about 10 more stitches so I had something to work with. Since I was "going backwards" this meant undoing the stitches manually with a tapestry needle and catching the live ones before I pulled out the yarn--no sense in having to wrangle more live stitches.
Then I transferred each stitch back to the left hand needle, checked again that I didn't miss anything and was now back at my orange marker.
Step Four: Attach New Yarn
I decided to use the Magic Knot to attach my new yarn to bind off. It figured at this gauge it wouldn't show. It was also secure. Spit splicing would also have worked.
Step Five: Bind Off
The original bind off was a regular one, but since this must be where I put pressure on the sweater when I put it in, I decided to use Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off for these stitches just to be on the safe side.
When that was done I had two ends. The end of my new bind off and the end where I picked out the old one.
Since both ends were already secure (picking out the old one was challenging so I figured it was staying put), I just prettied it up and wove in the ends.
Step Six: Admire
No one will notice unless they inspect the hem up close.
If anyone does that, I'll know they're a knitter.
Pssst, have you heard about Custom Fit?
I just finished my first custom sweater and it's pretty fantastic.
While I haven't said anything about actually knitting this sweater, it's mostly because from a knitting perspective that makes this remotely interesting. But now that it's done, I thought I should give a quick review of custom fit by Amy Herzog because this sweater is a perfect fit!
One of the great things about my job is my employer's committment to developing a family-friendly workplace. They've moved away from the term work-life balance because its difficult to define and somewhat personal, but it's still something they value. Not everyone is personnally good at finding that balance, but my university has a lot of structures in place which tell me they acknowledge that I have a life outside of work and I should have time to spend doing other things that I love, with whomever I define as my family.
Shutting down for two weeks around the Christmas holiday is one manifestation of that commitment. Two full weeks off, with pay... and it was fantastic. A bit of Christmas stuff and a whole lot of lazy time. I knit, I spun, I watched a lot of Damages on Netflix, saw some movies at home and in the theatre, slept late, cooked, even cleaned and I hung out with my family who also took advantage of the time off and relaxed. We spent more days in our pyjamas than in clothes. It was perfect.
It's a privilege to have such leisurely time, and I also think it's important to just hang out sometimes since our usual life pattern is to be on the go--work, school, activities, homework, housework, obligations etc. I was happy not to get through my super ambitious Winter Break To Do List in favour of just letting the days take me where I wanted them to go. I was almost ready to go back to work this morning now that I'm rested and feeling good.
Except for the getting up part. Early mornings are early. And it's cold out. The whole family successfully got back into the groove of everyday life. But we're still kinda wishing for a snow-day.
I love Ravelry. Not only does it keep me organized but it gives me data. I love data.
For example: I have a lot of yarn. 56,268 meters worth. That doesn't include yarn being used in WIPs because Ravelry knows that it's spoken for (at least for the moment, I have a few WIPs that need reconsideration).
Do I have less yarn than last year? Not sure. I think the spreadsheet with that information is on my work computer so I'll have to check when I'm back next week. (By the way, two weeks off at Christmas is amazing...by far the best benefit of my job).
I do strive for stash equilibrium whereby I knit as much as I purchase or spin and therefore don't make more stash. I'm pretty sure I'm close to last year's number and not near the over 60km I've had in the past, so that's something.
As for what I did accomplish knitting/weaving/spinning wise...it was a fine year.
3 hats (one that never made it to Ravelry)
1 pair armwarmers
1 pair of knee socks
I even managed to spin some yarn (but not very much!)
I don't generally set crafty goals because I want to use that time freely and work on what strikes me as fun, motivating, challenging, easy or whatever it is that I need from my fibre pursuits. Everyone in the family needs socks so I will try to work on some plain ones so no one's feet are cold and I could really use a new hat, but otherwise, I'll keep working on things that please me at the time. It's a luxury to have the time and resources to have something like that in my life and I'm not going to mess with it.
I bet some of you have knitting goals. I always like to hear them if you want to share.
I don't think I'm a very introspective person. I don't tend to look back on the year that has gone by on December 31st and assess if it was good or bad. Time passes, lots happens and while I don't doubt that some years can be very good and others might be very bad, I tend to think in smaller chunks of time. Maybe it's because nothing has been bad enough to ruin a whole year and that makes me quite lucky indeed.
But since it is December 31st and I decided to take a moment to blog, I can say, 2013 was good.
Off the top of my head there was the Epic Road Trip, my Ballhockey team winning the cup, another fabulous Rhinebeck weekend, a few good running races (but not enough running which is entirely my fault), lots of pretty knitting, my kids continue to be healthy, successful and awesome, I'm still in love with the same guy after 25 years (19 married) and besides the "am I already so old as to need bifocals", I'm pretty healthy, successful and awesome too.
The one things I forgot to do this year was call out the fact that And She Knits Too turned 10 this November.
A decade of blogging. I never expected to still put words on the Internet and have people read them after ten years. Thanks for that. If you put up with me on Twitter or Instagram, thanks for that too.
I plan to keep writing this blog in 2014 and hope to do a better job of posting next year. Along with the classic resolutions of a) get more sleep and b) exercise more, that should put me in league with the resolutions of 95% of the Internet. But like I said, I'm not very introspective and so I haven't given it much thought (except the exercise thing...I feel like a complete lump and need to move around).
Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2013 was good for you and that 2014 is full of ______________ (insert desires here).
Cowl mania continues here at And She Knits Too.
First a fantastic chunky, seed stitch, twisted, soft one in Mirasol Ushya.
I linked to a pattern but modified it to suit my yarn. Details here.
I made this for the charity auction at work and really didn't want to give it away. I love this yarn. It's chunky without being heavy and it's so snugly in a cowl. The whole thing only took a few hours to knit so I plan to make a few more over the holiday break.
Then a handspun one.
Not much to say about this. I took some really old bulky, slightly ropes merino handspun and knit in 3x2 ribbing in the round. Actually after messing up the twisted cast on a bunch of times in the grey cowl above, I freakin accidentally twisted this one! It worked fine and is a nice enough neck warmer. I just never liked how the yarn turned out. The colours looked muddy. It is definitely better knit up than sitting in the stash.
Then I got fancy. I found this beautiful pattern--Kildrummy and tossed the stash for something that would work. The Debbie Bliss chunky tweed is the wrong weight and I didn't have enough of it (took me 3 tries to get a stitch count that would work with the little amount of yarn I had) but I made it work.
Is it a bad thing that all I want to do is knit cowls?
Neckwarmers that hug you tight and keep you warm?
(Duelling Diamonds of DEATH! neckwarmer in Indigodragonfly MCN Sport)
(Triune in Fiber Optics Gradient handspun--my handspun!--Merino Silk)
Totally makes sense to me. It's November. It's often chilly in the morning and I need to fill in the gaps on my outerwear for my bike into work.
Cowls look nice and tidy as a jaunty accessory. They're that perfect extra layer for a cold house or office.
And they're the perfect, not too complicated knitting for a person like me who has been hit by the busy season at work and at home and who doesn't have much horsepower in the old brain in the evening.
Size 10mm needles and cozy knitting.
Bring it on.
Finished. With almost no yarn to spare (I even dipped into my swatch), on time for Rhinebeck.
It is fantastic. The fit is good, though I confess I would like it a bit looser (maybe Maxfield 2?) and the overall look is super.
If you look really closely at the middle of the collar you can see where I cheated a bit to save on the blue yarn. Instead of working two rows of each colour, I worked four of the varigated for about 6 stripes. I can't see it and I bet you didn't notice in the colourful trippy haze. Buy a bit extra if you make this sweater (or really any sweater).
The yarn, Indigodragonfly Polwarth Silk is divine. I love this stuff. It's so soft after washing. The colours are perfect: Kathleen Turner Overdrive (navy) and Paging Dr. Smartass (which is a colourway named for me).
This pattern using varigated yarns perfectly. I even got to show it to Amy Christoffers at Rhinebeck (though I was too silly to remember to take a photo).
All the details are on my Ravelry page.
I finished my Rhinebeck sweater, with a bit of time to spare, and this much yarn:
I wore it at the fair, where the weather was perfect, but didn't remember to do a proper set of photos, so I have no evidence.
I stayed in a beautiful place with fantastic friends, excellent wine and food and I didn't think to get even one group shot.
I went to the Custom Fit meet up and did get a photo of Amy measuring people, but we didn't get a chance to chat.
I bought some pretty yarn and fibre, which will turn into lovely things later, but assed up all my festival knitting because of lively conversation and aforementioned wine. Most of it is fixed now that I'm home.
I did get a photo of Keri taking a photo of sheep!
Really the whole weekend was perfect. We drive down in record time, my friends are fabulous women who do great things in their lives (from which Rhinebeck provides a perfect reward/escape), and it's so great to go to the fair and fondle the yarns and talk to the knitters and eat the fair food and play.
I just forgot to take pictures.
We won the 2013 Women's Ballhockey Championship!
I've been playing for 4 1/2 years and I've never won. This was my best season ever in terms of my own play (I even had an assist on the first of our two goals last night) and because I played with a fabulous team of fun, skilled and easy-going women.
We scored the first goal and our opponents tied it up in the second half. We went to overtime and the best comment: "You know what's awesome about overtime? We get to play 10 more minutes of ballhockey!"
Those post-hockey beers tasted great. Thanks for a great season Team White and to everyone at WPBHL.
It's been a tense week in Rhinebeck-sweater-knitting-land.
The knitting is going just fine. The body of the sweater is knit. The underarms are grafted. One zig zag front is knit up (ish) and blocked. The other is coming along nicely.
But my yarn supply seems a tad light. It's my fault as I did modify things a wee bit and since I always seem to have huge amounts left over, I have a false sense of security with yarn amounts.
You know things aren't going well when you start doing this
And then you get out the calculator and start following Kate's math to calculate the weight of yarn used for each stitch.
Except I can't do the math on how much I've knit already because it's a lot of shapes and the yarn was custom dyed so I don't have the original weight, just the yardage.
So I weigh the yarn and knit 6 rows. That uses a gram of yarn for 318 sts.
Then I start adding up how many stitches I need to knit. It looks good. Really close, but I should be fine.
And to ease the growing anxiety I just start knitting faster. Except that speed doesn't increase mass. (Do I have that right?, I didn't take physics so I can't say for sure).
Turns out, constantly weighing the yarn doesn't help either.
Last night, I start thinking about where I can use the contrast colour instead (like the back of the collar that I will never see).
This morning, I get excited because I remember I have a swatch (which means more yarn).
The good news is that I have enough yarn to make a sweater, albeit one that might not have the final edge band along the collar. Or it might have a skinnier band.
I can live with that.
I suspect I will run out right in the middle of binding off the 275 sts for the band.
Because of this:
I totally deserve it too. At least Steph can get more yarn.
Now the question is have I learned my lesson about a) buying enough yarn and b) not being a smartass to other knitters?
The timing was perfect--she put out a call to borrow handknits, I had a cardigan almost finished that needed a blocking and I was happy to have it done by a pro.
My sweater even shows up in the promo video (it's famous!). And it came back nicely blocked so all I had to do was sew on the buttons.
Kate is a fantastic teacher and she has the same zealous love of blocking handknits as I do (full disclosure: we talk about blocking over beers).
Blocking makes your knits easier to seam, pretty and soft. Blocking hides imperfections and evens out your stitches. And if you use nice woolwash like Soak or Eulacan your handknits smell nice too.
The video/class covers all kinds of knitwear and techniques and shows you how getting your woolies wet is a risk free, worthwhile part of finishing.
Go check it out.
Also: isn't Craftsy amazing? Online, video craft classes--I love the internet!
I have a new pattern for sale on Ravelry: Ellipses
The original release was part of the Smart Ass Knitters/World Domination 1 Skein Club from Indigodragonfly. It was a lot of fun to work with fellow smartasses on this one as it brought out our rather morbid (but fun!) side.
Why Ellipses? Sometimes it's better not to talk about how your design ideas happen...**
These mittens are knit in soft, fuzzy Indigodragonfly Organic Merino fingering weight, held double for a more solid mitten. The yarn felts with wear making the mittens cozy warm and almost windproof.
The colourway is Goodbye Kitty. You might notice the bow motif on the hands and the XXs on the cuff (poor kitty). I believe that colour is exclusive to Club members but any varigated yarn will work nicely. As will a dk or light worsted held single.
These are my Spring and Fall biking mittens and they've held up very nicely under hard wear. (In the Winter I wear my Fiddleheads, sometimes with another pair inside).
The pattern includes options for knitting with silk hankies (yum) and to make fingerless mittens. The stitch patterns are in chart form only and while the cuff is a bit fiddly (I love me an applied Icord), the rest is fairly easy.
**No Hello Kitties were hurt in the production of these mittens.
I try (and usually succeed) to have a new finished piece for Rhinebeck.
This year, it's Maxfield. I fell in love with this pattern as soon as it was released but didn't have stash yarn to make it, so I put it in my queue and tried to forget about it.
I kept thinking about it.
Plotted yarn ideas (the called for yarn had alpaca and it bothers me so I needed a substitution).
Caved and asked Kim at Indigodragonfly to dye me something spectacular to make it.
Polwarth/Silk to the rescue.
The main colour is a bluer Kathleen Turner Overdrive and the variegated is my namesake yarn, Paging Dr. Smartass.
It's a fun knit and I'm loving it. Here's the back and sleeves.
Only the fronts to go. Should be done in time for the trip. I've been blocking and seaming as I go. Don't want to have to do that one the road.