It’s happened

I’ve cast on for a project, set it aside, and absolutely forgotten what on earth it actually was.

Back in July I wrote about figuring out I’d unintentionally colorblocked a project – in the accidental way, not in a purposeful and attractive way – and was planning to frog it. And sometime between now and then, I did exactly that.

I remember that I was inspired to frog the project (which had been languishing abandoned in a project bag for stretch) by seeing something I really wanted to knit, which I thought the yarn would suit.

But I can’t remember what on earth that actually was.

Merry Christmas/Christmas Eve, everyone!

31856658895_9afc9809cb_h

(WAIT, I REMEMBERED!!! The current plan is for a Sibella cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. But it took me way longer to remember that than it should have. I think this is a sign that I need to finish some projects.)

Advertisements

Still here, still knitting

The projected low here tonight is 54 degrees Fahrenheit, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that endless summer may have come to an end at last. Yesterday it had rained by the time I left work, and I walked outside and thought, Cold weather! (Then I realized it was probably about 60F, which shouldn’t count, but it was a 30-degree drop from the weekend, so “cold” is probably fair.)

I went back east to see my mom at the end of September, which was lovely, even though – or maybe even because – it was cool and rainy much of the time. My cousins were visiting while I was there, and the first two days were spectacularly gorgeous and sunny.

30784718515_c17b99c2ab_oArchetypal New England scene. Unfortunately we were a little early for fall colors, but I’m pretty happy with green. I was trying to line up the vertical lines of the church with the vertical lines on the grid of my camera screen and realized that there weren’t actually any true vertical lines on the church – reminding me of a moment in high school when I was sitting in the kitchen of my parents’ very old house with some friends and one of them said, “Does your ceiling go down or do your cupboards go up?”

29572114023_e9c5789ff5_oNo idea what this is, but I liked the colors. It was in the border of a little town square with a monument to “those that fell in the Rebellion of 1861 to 1865.” God, I love New England.

30201361875_90152844e6_oThis town holds movies and concerts in the park over the summer – the grass was all worn down and tired out and ready to go to sleep for the winter.

Then it turned gray. We went exploring one day to find a tennis goods store that had apparently turned into a resortwear store and then wasn’t even open anyway, but we realized we were about a block from the beach, so headed that way, parked illegally in the driveway of a beachfront mansion, and took a short walk. (My cousins are from England, and the plan was if anyone had a problem with where we parked, my cousins would put on their best accents and charmingly claim confusion. But it was a cool gray September day and the beachfront mansions were all deserted.)

img_4172

The vacation was a great break from real life. And of course, having all that spare time (including ridiculously long flights) was great for knitting. I think my cousins were a little bemused that I could knit and hang out talking with them at the same time. Isn’t it great how magical knitting seems to non-knitters? I plowed through about three-quarters of a sport-weight cardigan.

30457490106_a6868a99aa_oStitch marker courtesy of Yarn Hound, which is a really pretty little store. Kinky yarn courtesy of unraveling my swatches because it was easier to knit from them than to wind a new skein.

30457500336_60e05101cb_o

I love the way the raglan increases look in this yarn. And I’m so. very. close. to being done – I have about 1/2 a sleeve and a collar to go; I’ll show you the whole thing and the pattern when I get it done, and washed, and all the wrinkles from being stuffed in my project bag have been smoothed away. Unfortunately, not long after I got back from vacation I used up my last wound yarn. I have more yarn, but it’s in the skein, and life/work (mostly work) has been crazy enough that I really haven’t wanted to spend my little free time winding yarn. Instead I’ve been picking up whatever projects I can find that don’t require thought or winding yarn. I have a tiny bit of breathing space now and I can’t decide whether to come back to the cardigan, or finish the even-more-mindless projects. We’ll see what inspires me more. (It’s still too hot to wear the cardigan anyway.)

The absolute best thing about the vacation was reconnecting with my family (I saw my sister too! and she has pink and purple in her hair right now and it looks awesome! and I live far away from all my family and am really terrible about making time to see them and I need to get better at that really soon before it’s too late). But I also loved seeing how much knitting I could get done in a week of really serious knitting time. I think I miss vacation as much for the gobs of knitting time as for the rest of it, in part because the knitting is almost as relaxing as the rest of the vacation. Too bad that whole pesky day job thing gets in the way of knitting.

My next vacation is going to be between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’m already pleasurably plotting both what I’m going to knit for the vacation, and on the vacation. There’s going to be plenty of car time. It’s going to be epic. (For a middle-aged middle=class lady who loves knitting, that is.)

 

Argggghhh

Question of the day: what will compel you to rip back a sweater? What do you do when your momentum on a project comes to a screeching halt?

My most recent knitting project has been the Lena Tee, by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I started knitting it because I am a sheep: Karen Templar of Fringe Association linked to this Instagram of a finished Lena, by danabarath. There is something indefinably inspiring about that garment in that shot, and I thought, self, you NEED to make that sweater.

The pattern calls for fingering weight in something drapey, and I decided to use some stashed Malabrigo Silkpaca, which is laceweight, held double. Silkpaca is (shockingly) silk and alpaca, so drapes beautifully, and I thought it would be soft and light for a summer tee. (Of course, alpaca is really warm, but eh.)

So I cast on.

27694329140_83fb444ba4_o

The color is Zarzamora, which is this wonderful kind of mottled steel-gray/purple/greenish stormcloud color.

Except that it is also handdyed, with all the beautiful variation that accompanies hand-dying.

See, I had originally bought 2 skeins (back in 2013), intending to make some kind of infinity scarf. I then decided that knitting an infinity scarf in stockinette on small needles was tedious even for me, so bought two more skeins to make a lace cardigan. I bought the second pair at a totally different time and totally different place from the first, and yet they ended up pretty much an exact match.

Then when I decided to make this sweater holding the lace double, I realized I needed a couple more skeins. They arrived. They are beautiful. But they are way more PURPLE.

See?

28103535731_17b4e95950_o

It may look like the top is just in shadow, but I promise that it’s not – there’s a really distinct line where the new skeins started and the sweater turns decidedly more purple.

Hence the post title.

So I find myself at a crossroads. I’m really – well – cross, because I only have a few more inches of knitting to go, and might have been able to finish the sweater this weekend (you knit from the bottom up in the round, then divide front and back; I finished the front and have been plowing away on the back). I was really looking forward to a finished object, I really really don’t want to start over. Also, this is laceweight held double on size three needles, and even for a basically sleeveless tee, that’s a lot of knitting. Further, frogging (mostly) alpaca is not my idea of a great time.

BUT. Will I really wear this sweater if most of the body is lavender-gray and then the top third-ish is purple?

Frankly, I don’t think I will. It will bug the heck out of me.

It’s not a hard fix, at all, in theory – frog and start over. Especially since I’m holding the laceweight double, I can then mix and match holding skeins together and end up with a much more uniform fabric.

I just have to frog and start over.

Or, if I can’t face that, I can just finish it, and wear it with the big purple stripe effect.

So. What have I done? Shoved it in its project bag and cast on something new (which is itself an example of halted momentum: I knit the entire yoke and an inch or two below the armholes of a swing cardigarn, then figured out it was too big). Someday I will come back to this one and decide what to do.

Till then, I have lots of other yarn.

Au revoir to 2015 in knitting

It’s year-in-review time! I didn’t have any more specific goal this year than “knit stuff when I have time,” so that I certainly accomplished. But I think I’ve also come a long way in thinking about what I like (and need) to wear, and identifying ways that I can make garments that fit those needs.

I finished three sweaters, two adult and one baby:

IMG_0972Dalyla by Cecily Glowik MacDonald (I don’t know why more people haven’t made this; I LOVE this sweater. It’s much less square on the human body than it looks in this [bad] picture. Also, I swear the switch-to-new-skein lines are less obvious in real life. But I should have alternated skeins. The tragedy of this sweater is that it seems to have attracted moths and it has a hole in one sleeve, which I MUST darn before it gets bigger.)

IMG_1910Boxy and Buttony by Joji Locatelli (and I realize I never blogged this – I made it as part of Joji’s Fall KAL this year. The yarn is The Plucky Knitter‘s Plucky Single in Green Goddess, and it’s wonderfully light and soft. I knew going into the project that a single-ply yarn probably isn’t the best sweater yarn, at least in terms of durability, which is true – the sweater isn’t pilling so much as it’s developing the tiniest wee halo of fuzz everywhere – but I don’t need hardy outdoor winter sweaters, and the fabric is wonderful to wear. Am amused at how the last skein – at the bottom of the sweater – turned out “stripier” than the others, though.)

IMG_0240garter yoke baby cardi by Jennifer Hoel (Cascade Ultra Pima Fine in Chartreuse – love this yarn. Buttons from yumyumbuttons on etsy.)

I also knit a scarf, and a winter hat (not yet photographed) for a road trip we ended up having to cancel, womp womp.

I still have some unfinished projects that I will be carrying over into 2016. The ones that I started this year are the Havra shawl from Gudrun Johnston, a Talavera by Amanda Collins, and a pair of Tabi Mittens by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (these are for my husband and I am wracked with guilt because I have no. desire. at. all. to work on them – the needles are so tiny and uncomfortable; maybe metal ones would work better than wood, which feels like working with toothpicks?).

Then there are the long-term lodgers, started before 2015 – my StratumRelax, and Grey Goose Cardi. I’ve been working on the Stratum and feel confident I can get that done this season. And don’t want to give up on the others yet (though I’m a little bit terrified I’ll never figure out where I’ve got to on the Grey Goose Cardi).

I did admit defeat and frog my Adrift and Frost at Midnight. I decided that neither was going to flatter me very much or be very practical for my lifestyle, and that there were other things I’d rather do with the yarn. And I haven’t yet frogged my Worsted Boxy, but I think I am going to, so I can use the yarn for a Tsubasa.

That’s one of the things I adore about knitting – nothing is permanent; mistakes, whether in execution or judgement, can always be fixed.

I wish I had finished more things, but having two sweaters that I adore and wear all the time is a decent outcome.

I will talk about goals for 2016 another time, but must also admit that in the last days of the dying year I’ve cast on something new:

24028402086_72de9dd6cc_oMore about that, as well, another time.

Hey, I actually finished something (so I’m casting on for something new, oops)

Remember that baby blanket that I’d calculated completely wrong? Finished!

IMG_1166
      
This seemed to go much more quickly than the first half of the blanket of miscalculation, which was a relief. And I think the recipient liked it? It’s always a little hard to tell how much of a reaction is real and how much is politeness. I was a little worried the colors would look drab and not sufficiently cheerful for a baby, but I chose the colorway because the baby’s nursery is grey and yellow (grellow!), and the soft stony grays and beiges-shading-to-yellow seemed just right. The mom seemed to like it, anyway, which is what matters.

Personally, I find myself walking a fine line between beneficence and arrogance with knitted gifts – on the one hand, I want to give people I care about a hand-knit item because it’s personal, made just for them, with affection and care and consideration. I put work and skill into that item.

On the other hand, there’s definitely a part of me that wants to give  hand-knit gifts to show off: look what I can do! look at the pretty thing I made! And I worry that what I give ends up determined by what I can/want to make, more than what the recipient really likes/wants/needs.

But I’m pleased with this one.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, the pattern is Smooth Sailing by Tanis Lavalee (it was very clear and easy to follow, and a fun, easy to read stitch pattern), and the yarn is Malabrigo Rios, which is superwash merino. I know I should disapprove of superwash, because (in my not very technical understanding) it destroys the natural scale found on wool and coats it with some kind of plastic, to keep the scale open and ensure that the yarn won’t felt in the wash (because the scales can’t stick to each other). It also has a slightly droopy, floppy quality sometimes. But I loved this yarn for its softness, and after all, it is for a baby, so both softness and ability to go in the washing machine are important.

(But who am I kidding – I love those things for me. I really want to buy enough in the Aguas colorway to make myself a Lipstick sweater, or a Liv. I’m not going to – at least, not right now – because I have LOTS of yarn, and LOTS of WIPs, and even more in the pipeline, and, honestly, not that much use for worsted weight sweaters. But I still really want more of this yarn. To distract myself – because I totally couldn’t do that with any of my current WIPs, now, could I? – I’ve actually cast on something else:

IMG_1235It’s actually quite a bit bigger than that by now, but more about that another time!)

In totally unrelated news, I somehow thought it would be a good idea to wear a tank top on my walk today, around noon, in the hopes of evening out the slight farmer’s tan I’ve acquired from wearing tee shirts the rest of the time. I didn’t really think about how I usually walk in the evening, when the sun is very low on the horizon, and that even though it’s September, it’s still hot here because the sun is still very strong here. I have lobster shoulders now. Ow.

Why I am bad at lace

I don’t know, actually. I like to think I have some reasonable knitting skills by now, but I’m terrible at lace.

I’ve cast on the Talavera sweater from the summer 2015 Pom Pom Quarterly – see?

IMG_0515

The yarn is Malabrigo Silkpaca Lace, held double, in the Zarzamora colorway. Not really sure at all what gauge I’m getting because this is a spur-of-the-moment, “I’ve had this yarn for ages and haven’t done anything with it and let’s see what happens” project, not a “I have a serious plan and have bought yarn with a purpose and seriously intend to have finished product X that actually looks like finished product X AND looks good on me” project. Am just really curious about how this might turn out.

And it’s absolutely not hard lace. It’s got yarnovers and some slipping and knitting two together and whatnot, but it’s not complicated. There’s nothing about any of the stitches that is hard.

And yet I keep ending up short stitches at the end of the row.

Usually it seems to be a yarnover that I missed the row before. At least once I managed to drop down a row and add it back in, correctly. At least once I’ve dropped down a row and added something back in, not at all correctly. Twice I ended up short one knit stitch, and I just cast on one extra and called it good. (When I did that twice on the same row of the pattern, I started to wonder, just a little, if maybe the pattern was actually wrong…and then I tried to work out the math of YOs and added stitches, and then I realized that I can’t math and the pattern was completely fine and that I had screwed something up somewhere along the line.)

I think this is getting better – I’m on the fourth repeat of the pattern, and I’m starting to be able to read the lace. I have figured out for some rows that certain things are supposed to happen in certain places and if they don’t I need to go back and figure out what I did wrong STAT. I think my problem is with the YOs that outline all the pretty little stockinette triangles – they’re not all quite the same YO done at the same time and I can’t keep them straight yet.

But it’s humbling. A sad amount of time spent on this project so far has been spent tinking back – because, of course, I haven’t been using lifelines, because the lace isn’t hard! The pattern is super straightforward! ARGH. (But honestly, I hate lifelines. They’re super practical and functional, but I hate threading them and I hate poking the needles back into the lifeline’s tiny loops. I may have to start using them anyway.)

I think I have to face the fact that what I’m actually reasonably skilled at is not knitting, writ large, but just fixing mistakes in the acres of stockinette to which I usually devote myself.

And also that there will be some wonky bits in the bottom of this sweater. But they’ll block right out, right?

IMG_0519

Reboot

I was traveling for much of this week.

IMG_0179It reminded me what it looks like where water falls from the sky on a regular basis.

IMG_0080

IMG_0099

IMG_0121And I got to see a cat catch a lizard:

IMG_0096And I bought some shoes.

IMG_0108I also brought some knitting with me:

IMG_0075One of the things I love about travel knitting is how guiltless it is. There’s no concern that you should be doing something other than knitting; you’re away from home, you can’t really put a dent in your to-do list or clean the house, and often you’re trapped on public transport anyway. Knitting transforms tedium into pleasure. Four hour layover? Great, lots of time to knit! So I very much appreciate the opportunity I had to knit the above project.

But as the yarn shrank and the knitted fabric grew, I finally had to admit to myself: I just didn’t like it.

I liked (and still like) the pattern, the Harvest Moon Blanket by Aimee Alexander. (All her blankets look lovely.)

And I like the yarn fine – Comfy Worsted Special Reserve Heather by KnitPicks (in Overcast Heather – much lighter than it looks photographed above). I had wanted to use cotton (or in this case, a blend) because it seemed more functional here in the desert, and I have some fingering weight Comfy, and I thought the acrylic in it would be fine, and help keep it a bit stronger and lighter than all cotton. I looked at the project pictures on Ravelry, and thought the cotton ones looked perfectly nice.

But I just didn’t like them put together. In part, that’s because the Comfy Worsted is fluffy, fuzzy, and soft-edged. The stitches don’t get completely lost, but there isn’t the kind of stitch definition that I think would highlight the pattern best. Beyond that, though, I didn’t love the fabric. It was extremely soft, so perfect for a wee baby in that respect. But it was also supremely floppy. And word choice matters here, I think. If I said the fabric was drapey, that would sound fairly positive, but when I say floppy, that doesn’t sound so good. And it’s not so good. I don’t want something stiff, but I would like a little body, a little bounce. I think that would benefit the stitch pattern, too.

And it matters mostly because this is a gift, and I want it to be as nice as I can possibly make it. In part because I really want my friend to love it, and in part because I want to give her something that looks handmade, but not so much homemade.

So back to the drawing board. I’ve ordered new yarn – wool this time (superwash, because I hope for my friend to use this, and making her handwash it seems cruel). And now that I’m back, will start over again.

(And figure out something else to make with floppy cotton yarn.)