When writing about work doesn’t work

I’ve got a hefty writing deadline looming, so naturally I want to write anything but that. I’ve been rather uninspired on the knitting blog so far this year, and busy-ness at work has contributed to some extent. My knitting needles have been awfully busy since January, but I have very few FOs to show for all the hours.

Perhaps my most important accomplishment was the completion of a commissioned scarf for none other than my dad. I received the specs about 20 days before Christmas, and I set to work ordering the yarn the next day. I got it in my mind that 1,000 yards of Wollmeise was a good idea for a men’s scarf. Happily, the postal service staged an intervention, and my coveted charcoal pure (100% superwash merino) never made it past New York. (More happily for me, the company refunded my money, though it felt like a great struggle to get it back.) On a whim, I buzzed by the yarnery and picked up two skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Company’s Studio Sport base in the “Upton” colorway. I chose the Cerus Scarf pattern by Hillary Smith Callis, and I cast on immediately. I went with 481 stitches, based on a gauge swatch I knit and a desired final length of about 6 feet. I know, contain your disbelief. I can join the gauge-knitting club now and then, but only if it’s a few rows over a few stitches. Cerus is knit lengthwise in a linen stitch. I wasn’t aware that linen stitch was a both-sides stitch. Moving yarn to front (or back) for slipping takes a long time, and my old Knitpicks Harmony 5s were too sticky for the job. It was excruciatingly slow: 30 min per row, 16 rows per in, 8in width final goal. (I may have fudged it at about 7.5″).

The end result was a very dense, soft, and manly scarf. In retrospect, I’d have done better to cast on a lot tighter (bacon ripple edge), and my yarn choice wasn’t ideal. Besides the color obscuring the stitch pattern I so painstakingly knit, the yarn is a pretty soft, low-twist superwash merino. I don’t think it’s going to hold up too well to normal wear – I expect it will get quite fuzzy, further obscuring that detail. I blocked pretty aggressively to even out the edges, which constricted the width a little, and it ended up being about 7′ long. Whew!

Yarn buying keeps oscillating between feast and famine. It’d be great if I could just stop looking – there’s always going to be more to buy and knit than I will ever have time for. I’m pretty excited for a wheel that I’ll be ordering in another week or so, and I am especially looking forward to reducing the fiber stash (by using it up). How did it get this big? Oh yeah, I bought fiber while spinning frog hair for months at a time. That needs to change, I think!

No photos, because it’s 1:15, and I have work yet to do. Knit the good yarn (like the wind, I hope)!

New year, new knits

Oh hello. I nearly wrote last year, one more time, but then family time took priority. How great it was to be home and spending quality time with the ones I love!

The end of 2014 was one big yarn-buying adventure. I also finished up my Christmas knitting, and I have some of the photos here to share today. The rest are on my camera, which I hardly ever use anymore, so I will have to get those on the old computer at another time. Care to see a couple? Good, I thought so!

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Here’s a calorimetry I made out of Boston Mix. It’s 100% synthetic, but the skein was a crazy mix of purple and hot coral. This one didn’t turn out like the skein, so I gifted it to a slightly less wild recipient. Great stretch, quick knit!

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Here’s the completed handspun Vijante cowl. Sara loved it, and I’m pleased too. If I repeat the endeavor, I will slow down the increase.

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These are P’s school spirit stitch surfers from Lisa at Fibernymph. They’re her sparkly base (bedazzled) in the inversibles line. They ended up long. Seriously, folks, make your stitch surfers top-down and don’t worry about the cuffs and toes being perfectly centered, and you can make this nutty pattern fit!

Following Christmas knits, I dove back into my Hiro sweater. Remember that? It’s been a long time! I was feeling motivated to wear it, quite frankly, so I put some major effort into knitting it. When I arrived home, I had most of one sleeve done (I had knit the prescribed length, but suspected it wasn’t long enough to work on my long arms). Thanks to some not-yet-raveled Fiddlehead mitts, my colorwork was fresh, so I did a much nicer job on the second cuff. I put some crazy long pattern notes on Ravelry, but needless to say, it’s finished! (I even finished it twice I was having so much fun, er, I didn’t like how the yoke was written, so I ad-libbed, ripped it out, and executed it more thoughtfully the second time). Enjoy!

Hiro! Can you see it?

Hiro! Can you see it?

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There you can see when I was still working on bottom band colorwork, among other things.

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Two sleeves a few inches from joining

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This is the point at which I realized I wouldn’t have enough red to finish the job. I made plans to work back into the MC to finish off, not knowing how poorly that would work out.

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Thinking I’d need to wrap up immediately, I did this funky 1 row colorwork with an extra short row on the back, and then some short rows on the shoulders before going into the collar on a 16″ cable. That was a mistake, as there were too few stitches to complete the ring, and my gauge was sloppy and pulled really bad.

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I ran to the mirror to see the completed sweater…and hated the yoke. The second to last green colorwork row got completely obscured by an ill-placed decrease round, and the collar was horrendous. I’m smiling because it doesn’t sack like my Tea Leaves cardigan fail of 2014.

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Back to the drawing board, I cut out the sewn bind off, ripped back to just before second to last green row (which I then made my last green row), and worked out a much better looking transition to charcoal that mimicked the cuffs/bottom band while also thoughtfully decreased the stitch count. Too much decrease too soon means puckering, which I didn’t want!

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Here’s the finished result. I worked the collar on a flexible 40″ cable (old Knit Picks), using magic loop, and my gauge issues were resolved. I was also careful to avoid colorwork too close to the collar, and was a little more thoughtful with decreases.

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From the back. I am in love with short row shaping. There, I said it. (My Tea Leaves falls off my shoulders, so naturally I love a good short row shaped back and shoulders!)

Shortly after finishing the second attempt at the yoke end/collar, I also completed the finishing. I did happen to snag a stitch on the right side when I grafted the last armpit closed (dang!), but I was able to work the snag to the back without much trouble. I didn’t block yet, because I had too many intentions of showing it off right away, and I didn’t want to wait for it to dry to do so. I will plan on blocking it Friday, so that maybe I can wear it on Sunday. Anyway. I am stoked.

In other news, I have purchased too much yarn. More lush from Voolenvine, a Yowza from Miss Babs, tosh sock from a cute little store, Ben & Flo’s in Mt. Vernon, IA, and some ultra alpaca, which I intend to make colorwork mitts with (and convinced P to try colorwork mitts on!). I’m knitting Molly’s “Whispering Pines” shawl and trying to get 5 sock projects in progress whittled down to outta Area 51 (UFO land). I need more photos. I’ll update again soon, but wanted to burn off a little excitement steam (research win) before I got back to busy. Knit the good yarn!

Falling, and revelation

Last month’s boast post was apparently a fatal error, because in the following weeks, I blew the yarn budget on fiber, more fiber, yarn, more yarn, and still have a gift card and coupon combo to use before the end of January.

The interview I mentioned took me near home, so I stayed there and visited a little craft fair over the weekend. There were maybe 12 vendors, and a small handful of them were selling hand-knit and crocheted goods (of the big yarn, big needles variety). One vendor, however, took me by surprise and had baskets on baskets of carded wool for spinning. These 1 oz mini batts came in vibrant colors that she apparently hand dyed as well. I picked out 4 oz of color and threw in 4 oz of a gray/white shetland combo, for the sheer joy of touching the fiber I was fixin’ to spin. I planned ahead and brought my trusty trindle home with me, so I spun up half an ounce in a couple of days. Result: awesome. I’m only showing the one I’ve started spinning, because I was too excited to photograph the entire haul. >.<

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I finished up the Hundertwasser Wintergeist socks, but of course I didn’t photograph them. I have a sinking feeling I won’t be finishing up too many other planned Christmas socks. There simply isn’t time!

I’m working on a team baby blanket, that is, a friend and I are sharing ownership of the project for a mutual friend’s soon-to-be-here daughter. Let me rephrase. Shortly after another interview trip in October, my friend and I met, and she handed over the half-finished blanket and the remaining yarn. Then, just to make sure the yarn was at peak ripeness, I let it “soak” in the bag for about a month. I picked it up Wed before Thanksgiving, and now a week later, I have most of that finished. I’ve been enjoying the long rows of more or less mindless garter, and it’s been a good reason to back-burner process the looming decisions, options, and deadlines. I hit a crisis yarn shortage a while back (it’s possible I didn’t get all of the yarn the first time), but we made it work by rendezvous on Tuesday. The yarn is Berroco Weekend, which I don’t think I would have picked if it hadn’t been on sale. It’s something of an 8 or 12 ply comprised of 4-6 two-plies plied together. It splits a little, but the final texture is nice. I don’t think it should ever pill.

Christmas presents are a little less panicky this year. I’ve stocked up on some socks throughout the year, and I imagine there will be an eventual shortage, as usual. I have a few more projects I’d like to finish, start and finish, and stretch for. We’ll see what the next 3 weeks bring. I had a revelation this morning while knitting. I should probably skip the panic altogether and knit whatever I feel like knitting. Strange concept, I know!

Knitting (but hopefully not buying) the good yarn!

Hiding my knitting

I’ve started several posts in the last month or so, and my reasoning for not publishing them boiled down to not enough show-able content. My schedule has been packed (and so has my knitting bag), but most of what I’m working on will be classified as “super-secret” knitting, only to see light of day post-Christmas. Also a word to note – there was much less yarn-buying guilt in the last month. I spent plenty of time browser “window” shopping, but nothing made it into my cart after I caught a Lollipop Yarn update and scored some of the new beefcake base in “We Need a Little Christmas.” That was Oct 19. I think I left it out of my previous post because a.) Lollipop Yarn fans who don’t get the updates get pretty upset (at least on Ravelry, yikes!), and b.) I think I only bought it because I was sure I’d never be fast enough to get it.

This weekend, precisely 4 weeks later, I broke my moratorium on yarn procurement on a hasty trip to the much beloved Yarnery. I should pause to say that this wasn’t really a moratorium. I was simply uninterested in putting the money down and buying new yarn in that month. I have been pretty busy, I have been feeling very determined to finish some projects, and I have a hankering to knit through some of the stash. No, I am not coming down with something, but I heartily agree that that sentiment seems odd for me. At the Yarnery, I noticed that they began stocking Three Irish Girls sock yarns. Oh dear. I had buzzed in on a short break between two commitments with a single mission: more size 0 needles (more on that in a bit). As usual, the woolly thrill of the fingering weight yarn room beckoned, and I meandered there unwittingly. I stood. Admired. Maybe even drooled a little bit. But then I remembered. My cabinet is full to bursting of glorious sock yarn. I said no. (Admittedly, if the price on Three Irish Girls were a little less exorbitant, even rationale would not have stopped me, and I would have spent even more by collecting matched sets of variegated with coordinating colors…).

Naturally, to congratulate myself on walking away from my temptation of the moment (seriously, check out “supernova”), I gave in and picked up a long-desired, cheap(er) skein of Malabrigo Merino Worsted in the Polar Morn colorway. I can’t help but adore grays, and since I had just eliminated a skein of the same yarn (Uva color), there wasn’t any question in my mind. This skein will be perhaps a new Luxe Cowl, or a Thermis for me, or maybe some hat or mitten pattern yet to be determined. Loose plans get me into trouble, but gray is awfully tempting.

About those 0s, this has been a finishing month. I’m finished with my Dad’s super secret Christmas socks, and I finished the “eternity” spin, as I’m calling it. Remember Yarn Love? I got it just as I was starting to blog about my fibery adventures, and I began spinning it in the beginning of September. Well, I figured out why it was taking so long. I chain-plyed the first bobbin and got a whopping 260 yards. I surprised myself majorly, because the last chain-ply I did was a grand total of 360 yards. Too excited to wait, I skeined that bobbin before starting bobbin number 2. The 260 yards is a heavy fingering, I’d guess, and destined to become a hat. I think the yardage would be perfect. Bobbin #2, however. 412 yards. You read that right. Out of 2 oz. That is some skinny skinny yarn! The two skeins do not match in weight (probably because of how much time passed between start and finish of the singles), so it’s definitely 2 projects. For the second skein, I will attempt some socks (but if it’s too flimsy, I will find something else), and for those, I needed more size 0s.

The galleria: Singles, 1st bobbin chain-ply, 2nd bobbin chain ply, 1st skein (260 yards), 2nd skein (412 yards), and side by side comparison.

Yarn Love "Charm" SW Merino singles Bobbin 1 Bobbin 2 Skein 1, 260 ydsSkein 2photo 3 (13)

Beyond that, a brief update in photos. First Opal Hundertwasser sock completed (second past the heel as of this morning), a commissioned spin on a SW Merino/Nylon/Bamboo blend by Ewephoric Fibers (my first), and the completed Thermis cowl that is now residing with its purple-adoring owner, P.

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Another interview awaits, and then Thanksgiving to follow. Christmas will be here before we know it! Until next time, knit the good yarn!

Starting the week off right

How has it been so long already? October is barreling towards its close, and my humble knitting blog can’t keep up with the pace I’ve been keeping. Since I last wrote, I have finished the monkey socks, the first 2 oz (and now, finally, almost the 3rd oz) of yarn love, and I enjoyed the Great American Wool Festival in Stillwater. I also started and nearly finished a commissioned pair of glittens for my pastor, made progress on super secret Christmas knitting, and started a hat and a sock for some airplane knitting.

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Moving from top left across and down:

Commissioned glittens (with a background of sound board), true hand model. Finished monkey socks in Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway “Beach Fog” from the lovely clariknit. Chroma fingering sockhead hat cast on in the “Vermont” colorway. My opal socks for the plane – knit on Caspian dpns, 2.25 mm, plain vanilla style. Toes on the beach, followed by the intersection of This, That, and Center — those punny Texans! I’m also showing my most recent bobbin shot of Yarn Love, the two skeins of Madtosh samples I bought last time, and the hurry-up crochet I whipped out to adorn my generic black suitcase for travel. The center image of crochet is based off of a pink-ribbon scarf pattern/tutorial. I don’t like to crochet, and I don’t claim to be able to, but these monstrosities stuck out like a waterfall in a desert at the baggage claim, and I didn’t care what became of them (so long as the bag they were originally attached to made it back to me). I should mention, if you’re interested in the pink ribbon scarf for yourself, the construction seems conducive to snagging. Those ribbon twists are not anchored at all, making for a really flimsy, open scarf. Oh, and I don’t like to crochet, did I mention that? 🙂

So much to do, so little time. On the work front, the class I’m teaching is getting a little dense, my research project is attracting some attention (and likely personnel additions), and I’m still waiting to hear back from job prospects. In short, so grateful this is now and not a year ago, when life had spiraled down, down, down. Until next time, knit the good yarn!

Trends in yarn shopping

Oh dear. I’ve done it again. I’m not sure if it’s a weekend “time to party” sentiment, boredom, or escapism, but I always seem to tumble into impulsive yarn shopping on Fridays (Saturdays are right up there as well). Today’s impulse buy came from a deeply stored tidbit I read somewhere on a knitting blog in the last few weeks – someone out in the blogosphere mentioned purchasing samples from Madelinetosh directly from their website. There I was, digesting some course information, when the inspiration to look hit. It’s funny, I was just this morning listening to a message from Jen Wilkin’s “Abide, 1,2,3 John” study where she is teaching about “the desires of the eyes” and she brought up the age-old “It won’t hurt just to look.” It always hurts to look! Anyway, I’ve got two sample skeins coming: a bfl sock base (new) in an old color, “jade,” and a twist light (75% sw merino, 25% nylon) in “Found Pottery,” a sweet speckled colorway inspired by a piece of pottery someone presumably found. The shipping was flat rate, so it was pretty high, and it made two skeins more affordable than one. I guess I should be glad I didn’t go with the three skein sweater quantity I was originally pondering!

In knitting and spinning, I’ve been revisiting long-ignored wips this week, and I finished a monkey sock in Dream in Color Smooshy, “Beach Fog.” I’d been working on my Dad’s super secret Christmas knitting when the urge to find my Addi Turbos struck. I organized all of my knitting needles without locating the coveted set…before realizing they were in fact tied up with the dormant monkey sock. I quickly put in more than half of the knitting on that sock, finished yesterday, and got the second cast on. I might have gotten a little farther on that, but I received a tiny message that another long-ignored project (try dormant for over a year and on the needles for over two years) might need to be finished soon. Don’t worry, dear reader. It’s a team project, and we’re both done with the bulk of the knitting. It’s the finishing that is going to be logistically and practically challenging!

All I needed to do was want my needles back, and this sock flew.

All I needed to do was want my needles back, and this sock flew.

My grandmother’s hat is finished. Well, unless I add a liner. The result of my colorwork is pretty, but I guess a way to improve the blocking is to try beating the damp wool with a flat ruler or paint stir stick. I may try that, because the beige is still raised. The pattern turned out pretty big, which is what I wanted for curler coverage, but I’m not so sure I’d add the extra length for a normal knit. I kind of want to try it again with a different wool (read: rustic), but then again, I’m awfully sick of that chart.

This photo serves as a reminder that I take rotten photos, often. Selbu Modern, curler cover edition, blocking on an old towel.

This photo serves as a reminder that I take rotten photos, often. Selbu Modern, curler cover edition, blocking on an old towel.

I have another big finish to report. Parrotfish socks are done, yay! They went pretty quick, and they’re pretty fabulous. I just love Sunshine Yarn! I need to keep cranking out socks to boost the gift pile, but sweaters, baby projects, and shawl longings have got me too busy!

A pair-o-parrotfish socks were completed on Sunday. Pattern is Wendelin by Rosemary Waits.

A pair-o-parrotfish socks were completed on Sunday. Pattern is Wendelin by Rosemary Waits.

Finally, after what seems like months (probably close to it, anyway), I finished the first 2 oz of Yarn Love singles. Dang, these are thin. I’d better get some sweet yardage for this effort! I started the second 2 oz, and I think it’s going slower. I tend to get thinner on the back half of the braid, so it’s no surprise. Due to the color blending I’m seeing and the crazy thin spin, I’m going to n-ply. I was hoping for a just-right 2-ply, but I just haven’t been able to produce one. Too thin, too thick, all usable, but not that 400 yard skein of “yes!” I long for. Here’s a photo I took somewhere near the end of the first bobbin.

Here's Charm again. Let's hope I'm spinning consistently!

Here’s Charm again. Let’s hope I’m spinning consistently!

So I’m thinking nobody is coming to my spare office hours. They’d better ace Monday’s test. That’s alls I’m saying! Knit the good yarn!

Make it quick

I’m at work on a Saturday, which means I ought to be working and not blogging, but I suppose this is less expensive than trolling etsy or ravelry for more stash/patterns to collect. I’ll make it quick (in hopes that work is uber productive and I am able to knit faster as a result!).

Big week of purchasing for me. Er, at least it feels that way. My Voolenvine yarn came in the mail on Wednesday (though it was expected Monday, from the tracking, I think it bounced back and forth between local post offices a few times…that was 3 days of hurriedly walking home before I was finally rewarded with a cutie pie package of yarn and goodies). I love Kristin’s stock colorways, and thanks to my friend, I’ve seen five of them up close and personal – she really does a good job. This skein, a OOAK, turned out a lot lighter than the photo, which was a teensy bit of a bummer. I can’t complain though, it’s still lovely and soft and wonderful. Lesson learned about internet photos and real life expectations!

Berrycuda OOAK / Mernio + Nylon + Cashmere / Lush Fingering

OOAK Berrycuda from Voolenvine. This is what I expected to find. See the depth? (Voolenvine’s photo)

Voolenvine in real life: Berrycuda

Voolenvine in real life: Berrycuda

After all that hemming and hawing, I bought a braid of SpunRightRound Mutant Flamingo on Rambouillet. I cannot wait for that. The photo is so fluffy (I’m gonna die, as the saying goes), I can only imagine it’s a million times better in real life. I have been spinning some on the Yarn Love. I’m afraid I got thinner between ounce #1 and ounce #2, because the second ounce is taking FOREVER. As thin as it is now, I believe I will have to chain-ply it. I hope it’s still pretty that way – I don’t know what I was thinking, besides “you have to get more than 340 yards,” which was my last 2-ply. It will be socks. Maybe odd looking, but socks nonetheless.

I also have a custom order coming. I want to keep the details quiet for now, but I will definitely report back on the knitting when it comes. Yay!

This week turned downright cold, so I busted out the Camilla mitts. I guess those are for me now! I ought to make some more mitts for stock gifts. They’re fun and easy to produce, and pretty impressive to look at, if I may say so. I also cast on my Hiro sweater. I have a few inches of the first sleeve done. As I was warned, colorwork is a little trickier to tension on worsted weight yarn! Here’s what I have so far. Color dominance becomes more important, and I should have actually switched hands sooner than when I did. Learning experiences! Speaking of sweaters, I’ve been wearing my Tea Leaves. I may not be fully satisfied with the fit, but man, it is so nice to wear a wool cardigan. Makes me wish I could improve my back and forth stockinette enough to justify knitting another. There’s always steeking, which would be another adventure!!

Hiro! Can you see it?

Hiro! Can you see it?

Finally, and I really should be going soon, I’ve been working on my Grandma’s hat. This photo is quite lame, but it shows my progress. After I hit row 20, I went back to row 1 of the colorwork, and I’m now finished with 13 of the 20 first rows. I’m on the fence as to whether I should have done this, but I will go forward as planned because my grandmother’s curlers are going to need plenty of room! If she doesn’t like the fit, I’m sure there’s some potted plant lacking a cover. I hope it doesn’t come down to that. With my big head, it might fit me as a beanie if it doesn’t fit her. Hey, I’m liking the way this sounds! 😉 I should mention that you can’t tell from the photo, but my tension is definitely improving as I go. I had read that you should space out the stitches on the right needle before carrying your float across the back in order to get the right length of yarn there. That helps a lot. It’s a little tricky to get the right tension on the floated stitch so that it doesn’t bulge with extra yarn, but it works out a lot better if you space the stitches. I’m happier overall with my colorwork, and I have resolved to continue practicing to get even better.

Shibu Modern grows!

Shibu Modern grows!

Alright. That’s enough yarny rambling for now. Knit the good yarn if you can today – I sure wish I were!