Some spinning, some finishing, some enabling

Already September? My, my. I think I had started a post before Labor Day but got distracted (or likely had no photos to share). I’m borrowing a little time to decompress from my first teaching gig. Had I picked a different grad program, today’s lesson would have been standard fare for the three TAs I had, but alas, TAs are nothing but graders here. Grad students elect to teach, and after avoiding it for years, I decided “why not?”

Since last post, I finished my opal socks. They’re not pictured because I didn’t think to snap a photo. I was just happy to be done! I cast on a new sock the next day, using my Leading Men Fiber Arts Show Stopper in colorway “Metamorphosis.” This is my third (of 4) Knitting Pipeline Retreat procurement. I’d say I’m doing pretty well! I cast on a 4×4 garter rib for a board game gathering. I’m clearly not a very enthusiastic game player, because the host even offered me the option to knit rather than play. I accepted.

Some purple and green knitting. Will it cure the "buy all the purple yarn" bug?

Some purple and green knitting. Will it cure the “buy all the purple yarn” bug?

I also had the chance to spin a bit before a whirlwind trip to Iowa. Here’s the first ounce of that Yarn Love braid I fell down and bought a couple of months ago. It is unbelievable! You can’t tell by looking at it, but each layer of bobbin is entirely different. There are regions of rich saturation, medium saturation, and white, and the blending between them is stunning. Of course, all the pastels between colors are making me crave the muted pastels of SpunRightRound’s “Mutant Flamingo” or “Fig,” but I have several more braids to get through first. Note to self: small stash for the wheel! Also shown is the practice fiber I have on my trindle, which I so thoughtfully received as a birthday gift. When I can get the drafting to work, I love it. When I can’t, yargh. It was a lot easier for me to spin a woolen prep (rolags) on my friend’s trindle a few months ago. The merino/silk blend I’m practicing on is pretty grippy to itself (I suspect this is a dye issue). I hope it gets better soon, and I’m sure it would if I just committed to spinning with it – even at risk of wasting the fiber!

Yarn love Marianne base in "Charm." First ounce done. I love this stuff!

Yarn love Marianne base in “Charm.” First ounce done. I love this stuff!

I am no expert at drop spindling. I'm hoping it was a poor fiber decision. Perfectly good trindle, though!

I am no expert at drop spindling. I’m hoping it was a poor fiber decision. Perfectly good trindle, though!

I’ve been enabled recently, and I finally pounced on my first Pigeonroof Studios fiber. I love Krista’s color sense, and I have been stalking both her website and her etsy shop for months. This is Pomegranate Instinct in a SW Merino, which is my favorite for socks. Please don’t drool on the screen, it’s only a hasty photo taken before work this morning. Might I also put it out there that her shipping was phenomenal? She only charges first class rates, and to top it all off, my Friday morning order went out immediately and arrived on my doorstep half a country away by Monday. A+ and I’ll be revisiting your shop!

Hello, sock spinning goodness. Good of you to arrive so quickly!

Hello, sock spinning goodness. Good of you to arrive so quickly!

Finally, here are some updates from my knitting lately. The first parrotfish sock will be finished by end of week (if not sooner), and I bound off my viajante-inspired cowl last night. No FO photo of that, because it would require a selfie. I guess I’d say the design intent was good, but I probably won’t be repeating it. Shortening Viajante was the right thing to do, but slowing down the increases would have been wise. I love the yarn knit up, and as such, I plan to purchase Polwarth or Rambouillet from SpunRightRound when next I purchase fiber. (As in, squishy, lofty, and not at all superwash for a different cowl design!).

Parrotfish sock and Vijante cowl in handspun yarn from volomortuus batt.

Parrotfish sock and Vijante cowl in handspun yarn from volomortuus batt.

Finishing that cowl frees me up for the next finishing task, my Grandma’s hat. This is Selbu Modern in progress. I will repeat the first pattern repeat to add length. I didn’t check gauge, and I’m pretty darn sure I’m not getting it. Hopefully it resembles a tam/beret when I’m done!

Selbu modern for my grandma.

Selbu modern for my grandma.

In other news, I’m dreaming of purchasing my own wheel and knitting down the stash. The next polar vortex (third of the year) is due tomorrow, so I’m thinking Hiro cast on is in order! We shall see. Until then, knit the good yarn!

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Knitting is an aid in the tough times

Prompted by this KnitPicks blog post to submit my “knitting to stay sane” mantra of graduate school, I’ve been through the ringer in the last 24 hours and confirmed that a.) graduate school is tough and b.) creative outlets are essential. Keeping my hands moving while I think through the toughest research questions I face hasn’t yet earned me my degree, but it certainly helps me to step back and consider avenues I haven’t yet pursued. 

Before handing off my Cepa blanket last Saturday, I took it outside for a brief photo shoot. It wasn’t all that great, but I was rushed for time (and most of the available surfaces were filthy!). Here’s one photo I like. The extra wide rocking chair sits outside my neighbor’s house. Since my house is doing this funny 2-house-community arrangement through the end of August, I didn’t feel too strange bopping next door and arranging my blanket on their porch. I’d like to find more photo backdrops around the ‘hood. Blanket reaction was about as I expected, very pleased, I’d say. 

Cepa getting used to back-of-rocking-chair status.

Cepa getting used to back-of-rocking-chair status.

This was another REALLY bad weekend on the yarn expenditure front. I felt so freed by finishing that blanket that the inventory sale at the Yarnery was irresistible. I was going to avoid it altogether, but then a friend and I got word that our joint blanket project would be for a little girl. Knowing this, I just had to pick up a couple skeins of pink to round out our gender neutral blue/gray/off-white theme. The inspiration was the super easy crib blanket by Purl Soho, but we’ll leave out the yellow. While at the Yarnery, I saw the adorable Atlas knit up in the most beautiful palette. I asked if I could take a photo, and they said yes. I really do want to knit with Brooklyn Tweed again!

See this child's sweater? I want to knit it for myself. Atlas, Brooklyn Tweed Kids, sample at the Yarnery.

See this child’s sweater? I want to knit it for myself. Atlas, Brooklyn Tweed Kids, sample at the Yarnery.

Finally, here’s a parting shot of my latest HO, the first Opal sock I’ve ever knit! On to sock 2 and a new Sunshine yarns sock in Parrotfish. Knit the good yarn!! 

Parrotfish

Parrotfish

Petit Prinz Opal Sock

Petit Prinz Opal Sock

No time like the present

My to-do list quite nicely represents the chaos I’m feeling right now. The next month is going to be piles of tasks and recollections. I make piles easily, but recollecting is much more difficult. 

To do list...overwhelms me.

To do list…overwhelms me.

I got my blanket to “done” on Thursday morning. I was a little disappointed by the 33×31 dimension – not quite my kind of rectangle and not a square either. I made an executive decision while wrapping up my work day to get home and add two more color stripes to the blanket to achieve more of a 4:3 aspect ratio on the blanket. It made for a late Thursday night, early Friday morning, and even closer margins overnight Friday into today. I wove in the last strand this morning at about 8:10 am today, and despite the icord edging being a little tight (seriously, I can’t make good decisions late at night…what was I thinking!), I think it was a good move. The squared edges of the chevron are flimsy, in my opinion, so I have both stabilized and secured those – if any of my 30+ ends comes unwoven, the icord should hold the remaining stitches in well enough to avoid the entire blanket from unraveling. It’s a little girl, so the blanket is safe, but she might have a little brother or cousin someday… I give you Cepa, blanket style, woo woo:

Finished chevron blanket with icord edge

Finished chevron blanket with icord edge

Hello tight icord! Maybe it would rather be a mattress cover than a blanket!

Hello tight icord! Maybe it would rather be a mattress cover than a blanket!

Finally, I saw my work (and the amazing winners) at the State Fair yesterday. The hat was hidden in another display, but the rest was pretty quick work to find. Here are some shots in the wild. 🙂 Still fun to look, even when I didn’t “win.” Can’t wait to return to knitting the good…sock…yarn!!

Mittens hanging from the ceiling at the State Fair

Mittens hanging from the ceiling at the State Fair 

Hey! It's floating yarn!

Hey! It’s floating yarn!

 

I knit because it’s fun

When I’m daydreaming about knitting as a full-time job, I forget that pressure has the tendency to pull all the joy out of a pastime and turn it into a task to dread. I remembered that this morning when I checked the State Fair results. Granted, I entered fairly deep categories, but again, no winners. I knit because it’s fun. No ribbon or prize is necessary to motivate me to pick up the needles, and I hardly think that recipients of my handknits would refuse a gift that isn’t a blue ribbon winner…or even last place, for that matter. 

I think the main reason I hate competition, generally speaking, is that it brings out the worst in myself. I stop playing for fun when I aim to win. Or when I get hopeful and think that I have a shot at winning and then don’t. It ruins whatever I originally set out to do. It’s metaphorical, in a way, the way I felt about State Fair entries this year…I guess I should be careful not to shut down the “knitting dreams” for fear of imminent disappointment.

I have bigger fish to fry at this time, fortunately. Perhaps I’ll take consolation…in further knitting? Knit the good yarn.

Halfway there

Less than a week remains before my friend’s baby shower, and this anxiety I feel is completely called for. I think the grandma-to-be’s insistence that I should wrap up whatever I have completed by Saturday has turned the whole thing into a personal challenge. I can do this, I rationalize. Just because she suggested I take it easy, I want to make it impossibly hard. Ha. Here’s the halfway point, as of this morning. I’m still rowing out like a champ. >.<

Cepa progresses to the halfway point.

Cepa progresses to the halfway point.

Now might be a good time to recall the severity of the rowing out issue I’m having, as I just made a written commitment to buy another sweater quantity of yarn intended for an open front cardigan (specifically, Hannah Fettig’s “Featherweight Cardigan“). Whoops! It’s particularly lovely yarn, too, Manos del Uraguay, in their 70%  superfine merino wool/30% silk base called “Fino.” A store sample of the pattern Turkana, specifically this one, at Stitch caught my eye, and one of the owners informed me they’d be KAL-ing in September. Though I actually don’t care for the pattern attributes that make it so special, it did really sell the yarn (sample is in Ivory Letter Opener), and I’ll definitely love the finished object. I’ll love it loads more if I figure out why I’m rowing out and how to stop doing that without spending 30 seconds on every stitch. Seriously! 

Also while near home, I asked my Mom to locate the mittens that started it all. The color work mittens, that is, that probably first drew me to color work. They were knit with care by my mother’s “second mother,” a neighborhood mom she stayed in touch with well after childhood and even still. I was delighted and shocked to see that the mittens from my memory were knit with worsted weight yarn! Of course, it makes sense – that would be a lot warmer. I believe they’re wool, but then, I can’t be sure of that either. 

Mitten knit by NC in about 1998. Second was missing, hope it's found soon!

Mitten knit by NC in about 1998. Second was missing, hope it’s found soon!

All in all, a whirlwind trip was had, and it was fun. Koozies were better received than the bottles they encompassed – ha, that was a joke in itself, when my dad pulled out a solitary bottle sans koozy from the gift bag. I had to fish for the koozy! If I could summarize the weekend in a handful of words, they’d be: driving, knitting, rest, yarn, and family. Beautiful. Hey! Knit the good yarn!

Kick-start

I reached a lull in productivity and need a swift kick to get it restarted. Thus, here is an updated lineup of all things koozy. The final koozy is on the needles and is the biggest treat so far…tiny bit of leftover Tosh Sock that perfectly matches some Louet Gems from eons ago (and a now defunct yarn store). I haven’t gotten to the Gems yet. Actually, I don’t really care about it. I intend to knit every last inch of this tosh, since there wasn’t much to begin with. It’s settled. I’m getting another skein of tosh sock (soonly). 

Five down, one to go.

Five down, one to go.

Not much else to report, besides the fact that I must finish one more tonight and wreckshop on the Cepa blanket before next Saturday. EEeek. Would I actually try hard if I didn’t have self-imposed deadlines to keep? Probably not. 

Oh. Also. I am craving sock knitting after scoring a skein of Sunshine Yarns Classic Sock in the Parrotfish colorway (destash from a color club). That, and it perfectly matches my first ever Sock Bag by my dear friend lovesockwool. Yeah. Spoilt. When I get that cast on, bag and sock are so going in a picture together. Not like I need to tell myself this, but just in case it’s a tagline that sticks, knit the good yarn!

State of wips

Obligatory knitting with a capital “O.” The selfish knit-whatever-I-feel-like season is long over, and I am neck deep in due dates and gift planning. The good news is, knitting is still fun, whether I’m knitting whatever I please or knitting whichever article is due next. The bad news is, the mental list of “to-knit” is growing exponentially while I plod away on the current stuff. That’s only bad because it’s distracting…maybe I’ll just swing by the LYS and pick up the yarn for that imaginary project I’ll have time to knit…you know…later.

I finished up some things, including the color work mitts (yay!), a handspun hat, and my latest, some scrappy koozies (sp?) for a celebratory six pack of glass bottled beverage I intend to travel with shortly. I’m 2 shy of the full pack, but I have a little time to round that out before I pack up to leave. Here’s a teaser from the pre-blocked mittens (post-blocking photos were awful) and the first two koozies. Hopefully I can get a decent group photo before I gift them away.

photo 1 (2)

Mitten: completion!

Mitten: completion!

Next up is the Cepa stole I’ve started, twice now, for a friend’s baby. It’s magnificently charming, and despite how I feel about the colors (read: eh), it’s turning out pretty nice. I don’t much care for asymmetric zig-zag ends of other chevron patterns, which makes this pattern a fabulous alternative, and the mix of garter and stockinette is making the edges look really nice (and flat!). I also like how the increase and decrease instructions generate a pretty similar single column of stockinette. It helps to pull it together. This project would be an A+ if not for one rather aggravating fact. I, knitter-in-the-round extraordinaire (I jest), have lost the ability to tension my purl. I’m positive I could knit stockinette before I became a rabid sock knitter! My purls have significantly looser tension, no matter what I try. It also happened on my first cardigan this summer. I’m rowing out and it angers me. Argh!

photo 2 (2)

Cepa in all it’s rowing-out glory

Finally, I dropped off my state fair items yesterday. After making (and keeping) it a new year’s resolution last year, I wasn’t feeling too obligated to enter this time around. It was a bit of a hassle to drop off and pick up, and the feedback was pretty minimal. Of course I had no idea how many hundreds of items would be entered…a fact which fully explains all of the above. I made a game-time decision to enter as I was drifting off to sleep Sunday night, steam-blocked Monday morning, and dropped six entries off after work. I entered what now strikes me as a pathetic skein of wool/silk yarn, as well as all the handspun items I had in my pile of “to-gift,” my tubularity, and those silly color work mittens. Here’s a parting shot before I drove to the fairgrounds. I should note: I don’t intend to win a thing (there are some seriously amazing knitters in this state, and this was a last-minute “shucks”), but it’s super fun to go to the fair and treasure hunt creative activities for your items.

photo 3 (1)

Steam blocking before sunrise

photo 4

Taken from my car before dropping off my knits at the state fair!

More knitting to come. I’m also anxious to return to spinning…when some of this baby-blanketage, commissioned mitts, hat, and Christmas things get a little more under control. Whew!