Monthly Archives

May 2015

Dolores Progress

After nearly two weeks off knitting due to illness/life, I was so excited to return to knitting Dolores. So excited, in fact, that:

1. I secretly willed a visitor to leave my home with my uber-powerful mind meld one evening just so I could start knitting. As in, please finish your darn drink and go home already. I have knitting to get back to! (What do you do when friends overstay their welcome?)

2. I picked my knitting up at the beginning of the lace section at the top of the first piece. It is never a good idea to start lace when I am half-trying to pay attention to converse with spouse. Even though I had read the instructions ten times, I forget to change to a smaller needle size. This makes the first row of lace so painfully slow. Everything is so tight! Oh! Yes. I forgot to change needle sizes. Good grief.

3. Then I messed up the stitch pattern one-third of the way across the first row of lace…but I didn’t realize I had frogged it until the end of the row…so I back-knit 200 plus stitches. Glory me.

4. Needle size switches and error fixed, I try again.

5. After four hours of knitting, I had four or five craptastic rows of mediocrity. Goodnight. 

6. Except I spent half the night tossing and turning and pondering…Invariably decide at 3:00 a.m. that I will do a life line, rip back the mediocre rows, and start over on the lace. Best to spend the extra time and have it come out perfect. Right?

7. During the next day’s painfully brief window of knitting, I sit down with extra patience…determined to rip and start afresh with PERFECT lace…then realize my stitches are so tiny and I will NEVER get them back on needles even with a lifeline… My lace doesn’t look too horribly bad. And I will probably make an even bigger mess if I try to fix it.

8. Reverse course and decide to proceed, errors and all. I will make this the back (the sweater consists of two identical peices sewn together).

9. Finally get the hang of the lace pattern…it basically enabls quick self-correction once established. Maybe there is hope.

10. Aside from the fact that my knitting slipped off the needles no less than three times when taking my work out of my project bag. And I can never quite those yarn overs back on correctly. Why can’t I just learn to habitually put large pieces away properly so they don’t slip off the needles when pulling them back out of a bag? It’s truly not that hard. Get it together girl. 

11. Finally, the first half is done. I might have an extra stitch. I am not sure. I can only recount to 255/256/254 stitches so many times before I just give up counting and decide to figure it out later. Why can I never come up with the same number twice when counting large amounts of stitches? 

  
The second half is proceeding a little smoother. Basically I have a big pile of green fuzz. So far. There’s still a whole ‘nother lace bit to goof, stitches to drop, yarn overs to lose track of…and the neck opening is obviously too wide…will require pattern modification. What will have happen if I add some seaming in addition to the three-needle bind off stitches? Will it match, or will the seam look weird (3/4 three needle bind off and 1/4 mattres stitch)?

At this rate, I figure I have at least another two weeks of knitting to go. I’m excited to see how it all turns out and of course, eager to move on to my next project. 

May Reads

Hello lovely knitters!

I am typically a big reader…usually in bed with my IPAD while everyone sleeps. I love reading. It helps me wind down from the day, turn off the tv and knitting brain, and settle into sleep. For a few months, I fell off the reading wagon…but now I am back on. Phew.

Whenever possible, I try to select e-books available from my local library, but they are quite limited on new releases. Thus I sometimes end up purchasing a book on Amazon. Regardless, I would recommend all the books I read this month.

It took me a while to get through My Sunshine Away, mainly because I only read a chapter at a time due to time limitations. I finally got hooked and spent a few early mornings quietly in bed while Reed was still asleep, flipping through the final chapters with great intrigue.

The Knockoff just came out last week. I saw it on a list of recommended summer beach reads in one of the Glamour-esque magazines. I liked it and finished within a week. The plot was shallow, but the main character still had depth, which I appreciated. Good for a summer beach book.

I randomly came upon The Art of  Hearing Heartbeats on Amazon for a good price. I really liked this book. Apparently it was written in German and is just now getting traction in the US. Much of the book occurs in Burma, and I have always had a crush on that exotic and faraway land. I love books with international setting….allows me to pretend I might actually be able to leave my local county (yes county, not country) someday.

 I totally admit I bought Pretty Ugly because US Weekly claimed Jennifer Garner was reading it and loving the book. I ADORE Jennifer Garner. I keep meaning to get one of those credit cards she is always raving about (paid sponsorship) JUST because I love Jennifer Garner. And I HATE credit cards. My crush on her is simply that bad. Pathetic. Regardless, I liked the book. Snarky. I think snark is a highly underrated virtue and am constantly aspiring to increase my own talent for producing good snark. Slow progress thus far. Humph.


Of course The Girl on the Train. It was finally my turn on the library waiting list. I was fairly distracted when I read it and all of the sudden was pulled into the plot. It was very Gone Girl-esque. You’ve probably already heard or read.

IMG_1491

 

A Yarn Well Traveled

A knitting style travel adventure.

Flashback to 1999. I’ve just graduated from college. I’m spending the summer living in Oaxaca, Mexico with my friend Ginny. We’re both young, on fire, and generally out to save the world. Literally. Like we really think we can do it.

And we knit. Yet somehow we have ended up in Mexico without yarn with which to knit. Poor planning, being young and impulsive and all that.

We’ve traipsed the cobbled streets of Oaxaca searching for a LYS that offers WOOL yarn, but all we can find are shops that sell bags and bags and bags of acrylic yarn.  We’d wander in, wipe our brow (it’s hot!), politely and hopefully inquire for hilo de lana in our very best Spanish, and then try to hide our surprise and disappointment when the shopkeeper would kindly explain she didn’t sell any wool yarn…would we like acrylic yarn?

I guess natural fibers hadn’t yet caught on in Mexico. Perhaps by now, it’s all the rage. I would be curious to know.

At some point we give up trying to find a shop that sells wool yarn, and we hatch a new plan altogether.

We know of a village just outside of Oaxaca called Teotitlan that is famous for weaving rugs. I don’t remember how we knew (oh, how I don’t remember so many things from way back then), but we knew. So we hop on a bus, transfer to another bus, and then, miraculously hop off on the side of the highway near a sign pointing to our destination, several kilometers away.

It’s hot. We are in the middle of nowhere. We start walking. For miles. At some point, we may have caught another bus or hitchhiked or something…I’m not quite sure. I just remember a long walk without shade. Two white ladies walking down the desolate road toward the indigenous village.

Of course.

Eventually, we made it. So proud of ourselves. We ventured from rug shop to shop and eventually found a few that would sell just the yarn. Everyone else wanted us to buy the whole rug. But we didn’t want any rugs…Just the yarn. Lovely, wool yarn. Great colors. A little itchy, but at the time, I paid no notice to texture. I was just so pleased with myself for having trekked to a village in the middle of nowhere to finally, at long last, procure actual wool yarn in Oaxaca, Mexico.

I must have bought half a dozen large skeins that day. Mostly a vibrant red and some hues of blue. I don’t recall the cost. I doubt it was much.

We reversed our journey home. In the heat. And started knitting.

All these years later, I still have much of this yarn I my stash. At one point, some of the red became a sweater I made up on the fly without having a pattern. I started it that very summer. It was the first sweater I’d knit. As you might imagine, it didn’t turn out very well. My grandma was kind enough to seam it for me anyway.

In the time that has past, I have become more selective about my wool. I don’t like it itchy. And golly, that Oaxaca yarn itches. There’s even bits of sticks and hay in the mix. It’s rough stuff. But I can’t part with it. I remember that day, and that summer…being young, full of promise, nothing could stand in my way.

I’ve taken to knitting with the Oaxaca yarn of late. Mostly bags and pouches. A sack for my circular needles. Nothing to wear. All the same, it seems better to finally knit up what remains of that adventure than allow it to continue to lie in wait in the hall closet, wound in balls for sixteen years.

I look forward to some future day when I can embark on a new travel adventure in search of yarn in some remote village in a far off land. Until then, I knit happily at home.

Free Patterns

I have decided to offer four of my patterns for free instead of charging a small fee ($3.50 or $5.00, depending). The reality is they just aren’t being knitted on Ravelry, and I want people to be able to enjoy them. I hope they will get more use without the charge of a fee.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to the most recent Never Not Knitting podcast. Alana (one of my secret knitting heroes) was interviewing the ladies from Kitterly. One of them was mentioning just HOW MANY patterns are available on Ravelry and how pretty much anyone can offer a pattern for sale (or free) on the site without much quality control. They might not have phrased it exactly like that…But basically they were referring to all the hacks out there (like me!, I thought) and differentiating their products as perhaps more tried and true. And rightly so.

Anyway, I do put a lot of effort, work, and pride into my patterns. I enjoy designing, and I hope to continue the trade well into the future and my Old Lady years. I know I will learn and continue to grow my skills and experience with time. Until then, please know you can enjoy the four patterns below at NO COST on Ravelry. Just follow the links below.

A gift from me to you. I hope.

Nikita Shawl

DSC_0134

Quince Fingerless Gloves

Super Easy Winterspun Shawlette

Tatianna Fingerless Gloves  

 

 

 

 

 

Pattern Release: Twist Cowl

A perfect cowl that applies a simple technique for a complicated look. Requires a provisional cast on. Cowl is joined by grafting.

When I started this cowl pattern fresh on the heals of my favorite Twist Shawl pattern, I thought for sure the project would be complete and available on Ravelry in under a month.

I crack myself up.

DSC_0028

While I did finish my prototype in a under a month (excluding blocking), it took me another month to finish the Real Deal…then a couple of weeks to get around to grafting and blocking…plus another month to round up my dear friend and knitwear model Becky…plus a week to download the camera…and another few weeks to have two hours of uninterrupted time on the laptop to put everything together.

Or something like that.

DSC_0031

So, basically it took me five months (not one!) to finish this project. Had I known, I would have planned differently and would have chosen a brighter, spring-ier color for my model garment. I have been really into aquamarine blues this season…

Oh well. Next time.

DSC_0032

I really love this cowl. The twisted stitches are my favorite. Simple texture. It looks fancy, but it isn’t.

If I were musical, I just might start a band called The Twisted Stitches.

But I am not musical. So you are safe. I am going to stick with knitting instead.

DSC_0034This pattern will work with any fingering weight yarn. I used a size 6 needle with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (of course…always!) in the Golden Hickory colorway. The pattern is priced at $3.50 USD.

This is also the first time I have made a special point to include metric units in my pattern instructions as well as English. Why the whole world can’t just agree and only use metric, I will never understand…

Thank you for the support! Happy knitting.

Sick Sick Sick

Oh knitters,

I fell so hard. So quick. First Reed went down. I usually escape his kid colds. Not this time.

Bam.

In bed. The sofa. Feeling sub-human. Sick kid. Grouchy husband. Missed most of work this past week, and I haven’t knit a single stitch since last Saturday.

The pits, I say. The pits.

I haven’t been that sick in years. YEARS. 

Fear not. I am feeling better. I even did the dishes and two loads of laundry. There is hope yet.

Speaking of which, this is the yarn I plan to knit with this year.

   

The blue is Quince Sparrow. This will be my first time knitting in linen. I am a bit worried about my hands, but I plan to take it easy and see how it goes. I am going to use it to knit Waterlily by Meghan Fernandes. The pattern does not call for linen yarn, so I hope I don’t regret the substitute. I was aspiring for Quince wool, but my LYS doesn’t stock it. Apparently you have to be a super special yarn store to cary the wools, which I think it is a bit snooty…I am just not a fan of anything remotely exclusive or otherwise not equally available to everyone. …and I wasn’t particularly inspired to order it online…although I am bedazzled by their color pallets. We’ll see how it goes. 

The umber-toned Dream in Color worsted Classy is for Katya Frankel’s Kitty’s Chemise. I don’t expect too much drama here, but you just never know. I have knit with Dream in Color fingering before but not the worsted. It was a good value for the yardage.

The pink Swan’s Island fingering is for Polaris by Hiroko Fukatsu. I have knit with Swan’s Island before…I was hoping for a new brand to jump out at me, but no luck…in part because my LYS can only cary so much. All the same, I am looking forward to the knit. 

Hopefully I will be knitting again soon!

My Gauge Epiphany

I am a loose knitter.

Take that how you will.

Sometimes we think we know what we are doing (as in, I have knit for almost 20 years so surely I know how to knit).

Ha.

Apparently not.

Really I am just a big ol’ fraud wandering about pretending I know how to knit.

When it comes to throwing and picking, I pick. Or rather, I am a continental knitter as opposed to an English knitter. Among my own circle of knitters, I have found this to be less common. This may because I was taught to knit in Mexico, and that’s just how knitting is done there, although I am not entirely sure.

I have realized for the past few years that I have a loose gauge, especially when working with their lighter yarn weights. Whenever I knit a sweater, I always have to go down a few needle sizes and then knit the smallest size offered by the pattern to obtain the proper dimensions. I didn’t really think about it much. I just kind of mindlessly did it. Even so, my Nanook sweater still came out a bit big after knitting the smallest size and shrinking needles.

You would think that would have been a clue. But no. I am dense (and perhaps preoccupied with others things and thus unable to actually think straight).

recently started knitting Dolores in a featherweight yarn. The pattern called for size 6 needles…but I had to go down to size 2 needles to get close to gauge.

So be it.

Then I go to work where I have a special knitterly friend. We show off our knitting to each other every week because no one else really cares. It’s nice to indulge with someone who is actually interested. Anyway, she shows me her current work, also on a size 2 needle, and it looks like you could bounce on it like a trampoline.

Tiny, neat little stitches. Solid yarn. No gaps between stitches.

By comparison, my size 2 work was large and loose. Not at all trampoline-like. More like a fishing net.

Huh.

Later that day, I head off to the yarn store to pick up my bounty from my annual birthday buy (they needed extra time to wind all the skeins…bless their hearts). I show my work to Harry, the knowledgeable LYS expert, and he does all he can to not gasp and hide his appalled expression.

Poor Harry.

Harry, who encounters dozens of knitters each and every day, then kindly tells me he has only met a few knitters who knit so loosely in all of his years.

Yikes. It is that bad.

Try 1. Too loose.

I smile, leave, hang my head in shame, and basically drive home rethinking my entire life.

Just when you think you have something all figured out, bam, you realize you actually know much of anything and are basically just floating around the planet doing everything all wrong.

Try2. Pay attention, and it actually works.

Days later, chocolate and wine in hand, I swatch again, feeling bright with possibility. This time, I am mindfully thinking of tension. Within minutes, I have a proper swatch in the correct gauge on my size 6 needles. Knitting correctly isn’t that hard after all, if you actually think about it logically and pay attention to what you are doing.

Thus, my first few inches were unraveled, and I started again.

Lesson learned, and I am all the better knitter for it.

A Mother’s Cowl

Good news knitters. Good news.

I finished the cowl for my mother. Just in time for Mother’s Day. It’s knit up in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the color Tart.

And, no, that is not my mother. That is my friend Becky. My mother is much older, as you might have imagined.

DSC_0037

This is a simple design that I made up in my head. I do not plan on turning into a pattern…A bit too boring for me, but I really love the texture from the Flowered Meadow stitch.

DSC_0035 Making things up in my head is risky business.

Case in point: the time I thought I could make banana bread from memory without using the recipe. Bad idea. Always refer to the recipe unless you are ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE you remember all the ingredients…but even then, best to double check.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

A Winner and A New Knit

Congrats to Roxy 64 on Ravelry for winning the Louisa Harding giveaway, according to the free random number generator over at psychic something or other dot com. Ah, Google. The places you bring me to…

Do you believe in psychic/paranormal stuff? I think I do. I haven’t seen any ghosts yet though…still holding out for that experience. 

I plan to do additional stash purging soon, so stay tuned for more giveaways.

In the meantime, I have started knitting Dolores with Cascade Elite’s Villa. 

 

This is my first time knitting with this yarn, and so far I love it. The alpaca is so fuzzy and soft. I really chose the yarn because of the color. I have been into grassy green shades of yarn as of late.

I have had some gage epiphanies while starting this project, but more on that another time. Right now, I just really need a cold margarita! 

%d bloggers like this: