Weekend update

Weekend! I have been “trapped in my skull” all week, writing, and some knitting has taken place. More tripping, stumbling, and falling into new yarn than anything…oops! Augustine is all finished now, but I need a non-selfie photo of me wearing it to show it off. The dropped columns aren’t very photogenic, and I haven’t given it a bath yet (because I was too excited to wear the new shawlette). I used all but a few grams of the meadow yarn. Definitely an easy knit; once you get past the overly descriptive beginning part of the pattern, it’s easy to see what you’re supposed to be doing. I maintain that I don’t enjoy the increase every 4th row mode of knitting shawls, because with all those slipped edges and makes, it can be really difficult to read where you are if you happen to put it down somewhere in the middle!

Yesterday I practiced a little knitting in the wild, both at the crazily crowded DMV (I drove to a suburb specifically to avoid the hassle of the city DMV, and there weren’t enough chairs to seat everyone waiting!) and the car dealer, where I had some recall service done. Below is my first ever Opal sock, which is potato-chippy enough. With colorwork happening and rapid finish mode with the shawl, I have not been feeling socks lately, so this has been going far too long. If I sat down tonight and focused, I could get the HO. Something tells me, however, that I won’t actually do it.

DMV knitting on 2.25 mm Karbonz.

DMV knitting on 2.25 mm Karbonz.

Next up is the colorwork update. Man, this stuff is going quick! I finished the (almost said toe) decreases on mitt #1 on Tuesday, I think, and was still working on the second cuff Wednesday evening. Meaning I got a lot of hand done at the dealer yesterday, I guess! Colorwork is super fun, and continental knitting with the white made me want to try continental purling. I “figured it out” on the cuff before realizing that in fact I was twisting the purls because that’s easier. If you’re knitting flat stockinette this way, you can compensate by using a combination method – knitting into the back of the twisted purls – but on a ribbed cuff, it makes an already awkward purl more awkward. Let’s just say I understand why Martina Behm hates to purl. Continental purling in the correct direction makes up for all time gained in continental knitting. I joyfully switched back to my ergonomically wasteful English throwing technique for the tail end of the cuff. Jury’s still out on these – when I get thumbs I’ll be anxious to see how they fit. I’m also unsure how to knit the thumbs. Camilla calls for plain background color. No, thank you, I think I’ll not stick a thin boring thumb on a patterned mitt. Famous last words, I’m sure.

Houston, we've got two thumbs!

Houston, we’ve got two thumbs!

Finally, a little of my most recent enabling. My sister loves this little Iowa-based indie dyer, Yarn Love, and buys every colorway they make when she goes to her fave LYS, Stitch. Since Stitch is not local to me (and the only time I’ve been there it was closed and I couldn’t go in), I’m at the mercy of her selections for Yarn Love. Apparently not quite, because a little web-based shop, Smitten Yarns, sells that and Yarn Love’s friend Three Irish Girls. I snagged some Marianne (SW Merino, my fave) in the “Charm” colorway that sang to me on Sunday in a moment of weakness, and it arrived in all it’s colorful glory on Thursday. I blame the “sale” price, which could have been TDF related, I suppose. Sale price, limited quantities…my “get it before it’s gone” instinct kicked in before I could even stop to think about it. I don’t regret it at all, because it’s lovely, and Smitten Yarns wrote me the sweetest note with my purchase. I don’t need yarn. I don’t need fiber. I just can’t help wanting to knit and spin it all.

Charmingly charming "Charm" by Yarn Love, in Marianne (SW Merino) base.

Charmingly charming “Charm” by Yarn Love, in Marianne (SW Merino) base.

Work will be hopping this week, and stress is bound to multiply. I’ll knit to stay sane, I suppose, but maybe not as much as I have been. Can’t believe August is nearly here! Knit the good yarn!

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And so it continues

Good news on the colorwork front: I haven’t lost my motivation! On careful inspection and the recommendation of one of 188 other projects on Ravelry, I moved the afterthought thumb position 7 rounds past the suggested location, equivalent to a half-repeat. For the thumb, I used some Koigu Painter’s Palette. Good use for a high twist yarn I don’t care for, even if it’s just a 15″ scrap! As a result of my modification, I will also need to add a half-repeat to the hand length (meaning the decrease is a full repeat later in pattern) to preserve the symmetry in the decreases. What this translates to is some patterning on my wrist, which I really don’t mind – there is nothing worse than a too short mitten or glove cuff on a cold day (too short in the fingers is uncomfortable, as well). It’s got to reach the cuff of your coat so there can be overlap. Either that, or you end up stuffing your hands deep into coat pockets and can’t carry a thing! Given the “bag lady” references I’m wont to pick up, clearly hands in pockets isn’t feasible for me. 

Left mitt; thumb in red. Progress shot from 07/20/2014.

Left mitt; thumb in red. Progress shot from 07/20/2014.

I’ve decided I’ll make both mitts and then go back for the thumbs so that there’s the best possible chance of keeping things identical. I really liked one person’s idea to put patterning on the outside of the thumb, but I have a feeling that would be fiddly. They put a checkerboard on the inside of the thumb, which I liked as well. This strategy is a bit of a risk; if the mods don’t work out, I will have two ill-fitting mitts rather than one. The mitt in progress does seem a bit on the slim side, but not uncomfortably so (considering my thumb is included in the bulk of my palm when I try the mitt on. 

Other than that, despite me being quite disciplined for…a week(?), I fell and purchased a braid of SW Merino from Smitten Yarns. It’s dyed by Yarn Love in her Marianne base, and the colorway is “Charm.” Apparently I got the last one, as it’s no longer listed on the website – you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s lovely. Yarn Love is an indie dyer that my sister adores, and she has a small selection of brightly dyed fiber on this online shop. The Marianne braids were 20% off on Sunday – not sure if that was a limited time offer or a ploy to make me click “add to cart” without hesitation. Either way, that’s what I did.

Now that I’ve spun a mixed fiber batt, 100% polwarth, and a merino silk blend, I can happily say that fingering weight superwash merino for socks is my absolute favorite. The more twist in the singles the better, and err on the side of overply to help the socks hold up. I need to work on getting slightly thicker singles. I’m not quite thin enough to make a true fingering on chain-ply (and my bobbin situation doesn’t lend itself well to a traditional 3-ply), so I need to beef up the singles a tiny bit to make a plumper 2-ply of about 400 yards. 

Until next time: knit the good yarn!

Colorwork: two hands!

I’ve toyed with writing a knitting blog before, but I couldn’t find a great reason to. That, and someone is holding onto the free domain that would match my ravelry name. Too cheap to commit to the .com version and unwilling to stray from the minimal branding I’ve established online. What’s so different now? Well, I think I’ve determined that knitting is the one part of me that isn’t so personal I wouldn’t want to advertise it to the world wide web, but it’s also the most interesting and changing side of me – something for which content might actually stem from. I eat, sleep, and breathe knitting, so why not write it too?

As you might gather from the title of this post, I’m excited about stranded colorwork right now. I primarily knit socks from single skeins, meaning there isn’t a lot of use for colorwork in my toolbox. I have, however, always been interested in pixelated designs that I could “paint” onto canvases of stockinette. Some of my earliest finished objects were self-designed acrylic chemo caps with shoddy technique and crazy colorwork attempts. I cycle back to it from time to time, and I never learned the trick to keeping it manageable until recently: two hands.

Jane Austen would not be proud of this bag designed in her honor.

Jane Austen would not be proud of this bag designed in her honor, circa 2006.

After years of ad-libbing colorwork (see Jane Austen bag), I’m officially knitting with real colorwork technique, yarn, etc. I didn’t even make up the pattern. I’m working on the Camilla mitts from Spilly Jane Knits, and I’m in love! The trick to keeping the yarn from tangling into a matted mass of anger and frustration is using both hands. I was thankfully bound and determined to learn continental over Christmas a couple of years ago, meaning it wasn’t too difficult to pick up the white strand in my left hand below and take off. I even dusted off an old wrapping trick to bind some of the long floats (7 stitches of background is a little long for a finger-snaggable mitt).

Look ma, two hands!

I was supposed to be at the thumb when I left off yesterday, but on looking at pattern notes, I’ve determined I need at least another half repeat before trying to add a thumb in. It’s afterthought, which I determined in 2007 that I despise, but I’m not going to try to work out a gusset without a pattern the first time I work in two colors.

Other knitting in progress is my Augustine Shawlette and some socks. Spinning is stalled out, but I have some lovely yarn to knit with soon. Till next time, sit back and knit the good yarn!