WIP-less Wednesday!

I have plenty of WIPs, but what I want to share with you today is an FO that I’m really excited about. So, over the summer I started knitting again after a bit of a hiatus, and it quickly became my best form of therapy. I started doing projects that pushed me as a knitter and this was really the first of those. I finished the knitting almost two months ago but didn’t get around to weaving in ends and blocking until recently.

Without further ado, here is my completed Quicksilver:

FullSizeRender 73The rundown

Pattern: Quicksilver by Melanie Berg

Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Yarn Supersock Select Solids in hot pink, apricot and bark, total yardage=825

Size made: One size, finished measurements 38″ x 65″

Needles: US6

Modifications: None

Ravelled: Here

The pretty

FullSizeRender 71 FullSizeRender 70 FullSizeRender 69 FullSizeRender 76 FullSizeRender 74Many thanks to my mom for her excellent modelling services!

I LOVE this project. It’s for the wifey, but I hope she won’t mind if I borrow it from time to time! I followed the pattern as written. I would definitely make this again. I like the yarn all right, but it’s not my absolute favorite as it’s just a little splitty. I was worried initially that it wouldn’t be big enough but it grew a lot with blocking–from about 30″ x 53″ to about 38″ by 65″, even though I didn’t block it super aggressively.

The pattern was a little challenging at first but once I got into it, it was very straightforward. The only really tricky bit was keeping track of where to turn around for the short rows (in the mesh sections). I started using a stitch marker pretty early on and that solved that problem. It knits up quickly and, despite having a lot of garter stitch, isn’t too monotonous since the mesh panels break it up a little.

Overall, this was a great project!

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Cleaning House, Knitting Style

For the past couple of days, I’ve been working on wrapping up some projects I have on the needles as well as getting some UFFOs finished and blocked. I have the secret project as well as the wifey’s Quicksilver (at long last) currently blocking, both with all ends woven in. I’ve been slogging away at the Clapotis for my MIL (just started skein #6 out of 7 last night) and that shouldn’t be too hard to finish up and block once the knitting is done. I’ve been using Russian joins the whole way so I’ll just need to weave in the first and last ends and trim up the joins. That will be three projects completely done! I also picked up buttons for my garter yoke baby cardi the other day so will grit my teeth and finish that up so it can be gifted away and off my to do list. Of course, I will attempt to get good photos of all these so I can blog about them properly.

I’ve also been doing a lot of work getting yarn ready to use. Usually this isn’t something I have to deal with but…I received some yarn I’d ordered a couple of weeks ago, and the bag and everything in it reeked of cigarette smoke. While I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s personal liberties, I will say that I really can’t stand cigarettes or tobacco smoke of any kind and to have a stale smoke bomb hit me when opening a bag of otherwise really lovely yarn–yeah, total bummer. I couldn’t just throw it away because, well, malabrigo! Also, while I didn’t buy it at anything close to retail price, I still did pay for it. So I’ve started the task of washing and drying all the yarn in the bag. Of course it was six skeins of non-superwash malabrigo wool and three skeins of hand wash Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece…no superwash in the lot. I’ve washed two of the skeins of malabrigo and am a little concerned that they started to felt. I’m not sure what to do for the remaining four skeins as I was as gentle as I could be with the first two. I’m going to try to wind them into balls today as they’re finally fully dry and see how it goes. As for the cotton fleece, I’m laughing at myself for what I did. I wasn’t really thinking clearly and just submerged two of the skeins without unwinding them. That was fine for washing them as it didn’t seem like the smoke had permeated past the outer layer (I think the malabrigo was the real culprit) but it wasn’t the best plan for drying them! So I washed them, waited until they dried out enough that I could unwind them into loops, and hung them to dry.

You might be wondering where I got yarn that was smoky. I got it from DBNY, which sources their stock from stores that go out of business, overgrown personal stashes and overstock. There’s no guarantees that anything will be in perfect condition since it may not be new or it might have been stored improperly before DBNY got it. However, I did send an email to their customer service department since this was such an ordeal. I’m waiting to hear back on whether or not they will try to make it right.

So I have the rest of that batch of yarn to unskein, wash, dry, ball, photograph and log into ravelry. I also have a small batch of yarn from Goodwill that I haven’t added to ravelry yet, so I’m going to try to knock that out this afternoon. If I have time and energy, I’ll sort through some of the last random stuff from my stash–mostly stuff without ball bands that needs to be identified and added to ravelry. Then, I’ll put any newly categorized yarn away in its proper bin.

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my latest Goodwill haul

How do people store their yarn? I used to sort by fiber type, but now my stash has so many different blends that’s not really feasible. I reorganized all my yarn recently (I don’t think I blogged about that, now that I think of it) and decided to sort everything by weight. So, I have separate bins for everything (lace, fingering/sock, sport, DK, worsted, aran, bulky and super bulky). A few categories that don’t take up much space are sharing bins, and a few categories that have a ton of acrylic are further separated that way. It’s all in airtight bags inside bins with lids. I think there are eight or nine large bins, all told, and they’re all full or close to it. Time to get knitting!

Anyone else doing some fall “spring” cleaning? What’s your strategy?

Gift Knitting Sucks

Okay, so it doesn’t really suck. I actually really like gift knitting. I love when ideas and yarn and pattern just click, and something cool starts emerging from the needles. I love the anticipation of finishing it and sending it off, hoping that the recipient will love it. The thing that sucks about it is that I have a project going right now that I’m really excited about it but I can’t blog about it without spoiling the surprise. I’m bottling up all my thoughts about it so after all is said and done, I can share all the details here.

In the meantime, I’m slogging away at my Clapotis. If I made this again (which I very well might) I would choose a different yarn for sure. The texture and drape of the Plymouth DK Merino Superwash is nice, and I like the color, but it has very low twist to it which makes it kind of splitty. As a result, the yarn in the dropped stitch columns just doesn’t look quite as neat as I would like. But, overall it’s pretty minor, so I think the finished product will be good. The knitting is getting a little boring but it’s at least going pretty quickly.

I haven’t blocked my Drachenfels yet but I’ve been wearing it anyway. Not surprisingly, I love it! I’ve gotten a handful of compliments on it already. The weather just turned a little cooler a few days ago so it’s been perfect for the chilly mornings. I realized that I never finished weaving in the ends of the wifey’s Quicksilver, so I’ve started working on that. I want to get that finished and blocked soon so that she can get some use out of it! I’m about halfway done. It’s super tedious.

IMG_3953Somebody thinks he’s helping:

IMG_3957 IMG_3956That one is not usually a lap cat, so that was a nice treat. Shockingly, he only chased the yarn once or twice.

Here’s what I have in mind for my next few projects:

image_medium1Fun, right?

Case In Point

On the ideas thing from my last post. There’s a project I’ve been stressing about for a few days.  I haven’t been able to get started on it because yarn and pattern just were not meeting up. Well, a few minutes ago everything all came together and we’re off!

IMG_3947

My makeshift swift.

The deciding factor? Nothing specific. I grabbed a skein of yarn near me to admire it (again) and a light bulb just went on.

Rock Liebster!!

I want to thank Midnight Knitter at Yarn, Books & Roses for nominating me for the totally un-B52-related Liebster Award. Since this isn’t my first spin around this merry go round, I’m not going to go through the whole process again. But, I would invite any of the bloggers reading to play along if they want to. The whole idea is to expose newer blogs with smaller traffic to larger audiences so please feel free to snag the questions and link back to me so others will find you. This is good timing because I was feeling rather uninspired on both the blogging and knitting fronts, so this format will hopefully prompt some interesting product out of me!

liebster-awardHere are THE RULES (dun dun dunnnnnn):

  1. Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated.
  2. Copy and paste the Liebster Award medal (logo) onto your own blog.
  3. Link back to the blogger who awarded you and give thanks.
  4. Answer the questions put to you by the person who nominated you. This is a great way to get to know the people behind the blogs. The number of questions vary from 5 to 11 depending on who is asking.
  5. On your blog nominate and link to your 5 favorite blogs (or more) that you enjoy but have a small readership (the rules have varied from less than 200 to less than 3000 readers). It could be that they have only been blogging for a short time or have a niche interest but are worthy of gaining more attention in the wider blogging world.  That means the blogs of large, commercial enterprises are not eligible for nomination; nor are blogs that are well publicized in a variety of media and established with tens of thousands of followers.
  6. List your questions for your Liebster Award nominees on your blog.
  7. Inform your nominees by leaving a comment on their blogs.

On to the fun part: the questions! In a previous life, I followed a lot of blogs, mostly nursing/medical, but also the Yarn Harlot and a couple other odds and ends thrown in (an aside: she does not need any publicity from me, but if you haven’t read the Yarn Harlot, please go do so. She’s a great knitter and writer, a great person and is frikkin’ hysterical at the same time. Her most recent post features a pic of a light up toilet. It couldn’t possibly get any better than that, am I right?). Well, long story short, I used to hate award posts. I don’t know if they have changed or I have, but I’ve found knitting blog award posts sort of fascinating. I like learning more about the people behind the WIPs (don’t read into that, Mom) and learning about other newer blogs. I’m finding that as I learn more about other knitting bloggers, a bit of a community starts to show up, and it’s one that I already heartily enjoy being part of.

So yeah, what about those questions? I’m going to try not to repeat myself too much (if you really want to learn all the things about me you can check out my previous Liebses here and here) but I think there’s still plenty of room here.

  1. What are three of your very favorite books?

I’m going to assume she means knitting books because otherwise, it’s just too big a pool to start with. I have a hard time picking favorites anyway, so that would be prohibitively challenging. One is a book that I’ve mentioned on this blog a number of times: 781The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancy M. Wiseman. Even though the interwebs have stepped in as the most comprehensive resource possible, it really helps sometimes to have techniques that have been described, compared and presented in similar ways. You can narrow down what technique you want to use and why, or you can use the criteria she lists to venture out and find another technique that does what you want it to do. I flip through this book frequently and have found it very helpful.

51s60sve2cl_shelvedMason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne helped me shake loose my perceived need to have a hard and fast pattern for everything. It helped me start to knit “outside the lines” in a way. The idea that you could just turn something and pick up stitches was pretty novel, and a little scary, for me but it ultimately helped me relax a little bit and have some faith that the yarn knows what it wants to be.

Lastly, any volume of Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was flip through pages of stitch patterns, each with its little black and white picture, and see all the cool designs you could add to your projects. Most of the things I knit as a kid came from those but, since I lacked any ability to incorporate the patterns into an actual item or garment, they were usually just scarf-like things. Still a great way to learn.

2. Are you hoping to make gifts for Christmas this year? Share!! (Please do this one. I need ideas…)

Yes. And I really need to get on that. Honestly, I’m kind of hoping that “Christmas” can be interpreted as “that day I give you something I knit for you” and that that day can be different for everyone I know. I’m not great at sitting on things I’ve made for a long time before giving them away and there’s no way I can knit something for everyone that I’m close to. So, if you get something hand knit from me between, oh let’s say August and February, you can be pretty sure that was Christmas.

That said, some of those recipients might read this blog, and I don’t want to blow the 2 or 3 minutes of surprise I’ll have left by revealing all here. A few things that are in the works are the Clapotis for my MIL, another River District Toque for my SIL, some scarves and maybe a cowl.

3. What is your favorite (handmade) gift that you have received from somebody else?

I have been very blessed in this department. I mentioned I have a hard time choosing favorites, right? There are a lot of handmade things I’ve received over the years. Some of the most special were dresses my mom sewed for me when I was a kid. In particular, one year she made me a dress to use as an Alice in Wonderland costume for my best friend’s autumn costume birthday party. It of course doubled as a fancy, real dress that I wore on other occasions, but it was quite an undertaking. The bodice had piping and a lace panel and all these details, and the skirt was long and had this sort of curved tier thing. The line of the tier matched the line of the lacy apron/over skirt thing. I clearly know all the technical sewing terms. Anyway, it was hours of work and it was lovely and I loved it.

Another very special gift I’ve received is a pair of cabled, hand sewed and hand knit pillows from a friend. She designed the cable patterns herself and put a lot of work into them. I don’t know what kind of yarn she used, but it’s lovely and soft and a gorgeous color. I’ve always been a little in awe of them.

A third (the question was your top three favorites, right?) special handmade gift was from my ex’s mother (my ex not being my ex at the time, but my current). She is an artist in many rights and fiber is one of her media. She gave me a pair of dish towels made from cotton that she dyed, spun and wove herself. She also gave me a linen table runner that was one of the very first things she made from the flax she grew, harvested, processed, dyed, spun and wove (I think the first thing she made she gave to her husband, and that was the second). Beyond those amazing gifts, she gave me knowledge, the benefit of her years of experience, and encouragement. I don’t miss my ex at all, but I do miss her mother very much.

4. Where do you get your best ideas?

The shorter answer: I have no idea.

The longer answer: random stuff just aligns in my head, usually without consulting or notifying me. I look at stuff I see on ravelry, in LYSes, on people’s needles and things just being worn, then pull something out of the depths when triggered by–who knows? I have a queue on ravelry but I hardly bother using it. Nine times out of ten when I cast on, it’s not for something I’ve been planning for months. It’s for something that just occurred to me out of nowhere, that serendipitously I have the perfect yarn for in the perfect amount. It’s really annoying when I have to do all that stuff consciously. It just leads to frogging.

5. Where do your creative energies go? What craft or activity is the most important to you?

I don’t really consider myself to be that creative. I always start with a template or set of guidelines of some sort. If you just gave me yarn and needles I would make something I’d made before. I’m okay with that, though. Knitting is my favorite craft but I also like sewing and just making stuff in general. I also like fixing and repairing things.

Clearly I’m in an odd mood. Thanks for reading, whether you made it this far or not! If any of these questions strike a chord with you, please take a moment to share your own answers.

Happy knitting!

FullSizeRender 63

My sleepy stripey, nuts to the wind.

Rye Socks Revealed

My first pair of socks is officially knitted, finished, blocked and photographed. Many thanks to Maggs for nudging me into starting this journey, and to the wifey for helping with modeled photos!

The rundown

Pattern: Rye by Tin Can Knits

Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Superwash Worsted.

Size made: Cuff is Adult L and foot is Adult S. Length is custom to fit yours truly.

Needles: US3 for ribbing, US4 for everything else

Techniques used: Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on, Kitchener stitch

Modifications: Very few. On the second sock, I picked up one extra stitch in each corner of the gusset then decreased it on the first row. Since I used a smaller foot size than cuff size, I just continued decreasing after the gusset until I had the right size. I had to adjust the “beginning of round” marker when starting the foot as a result, but it wasn’t anything major.

Ravelled: Here.

The pretty

IMG_3942

Copyright Callandra S. Cook

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Copyright Callandra S. Cook

FullSizeRender 61 FullSizeRender 59 They fit really well and are comfortable. I am very happy with my first socks! The pattern was great for a first timer. Everything was explained very thoroughly and the worsted weight yarn made for a quick project.

If I knit this pattern again, I would do the modifications listed above. I would also choose a different yarn as this one knitted up rather stiff at such a tight gauge (it softened somewhat with blocking, though). I would use dpns for the whole project instead of magic loop, since I’m just better at keeping even tension with dpns.

3…2…1…CAST OFF!!!

IMG_3932You are looking at just a snippet of the several miles of I cord bind off I just completed. Completed as in DONE. Except for some weaving of ends, a wash and a block. I am over the moon. I almost want to stay up and start weaving in the ends.

Almost.

Knitting on the Go

I’m still out of work from being rear ended over three weeks ago, so it seems like my job these days is to shuttle between physical therapy, the chiropractor, my doctor, my therapist and Occupational Health. So, a lot of my days lately involve finding a coffee shop or somewhere to hang out for a bit since there’s often not time to go home between appointments. i found myself doing this the other day:

  
Necessity begat creativity or something, right? I’m splitting my knitting time between my Clapotis (I really need to figure out where that word comes from) and my Drachenfels. The former is about 40% done and the latter? About 95%! I have four rows left and then the I cord bind off before the knitting is done! 

 
My steering wheel is proving to be a good model. 

Since I had to (well, chose to) buy a new skein of yarn to finish it, I figured I might as well add a few more rows to use as much of it up as I could. I’m verging on playing yarn chicken again, but this time I think I planned it right:

  
(Pen is included for scale)

Along with the Koigu, I picked up a couple of sets of dpns. At that point it made sense to get a little more yarn so I could get free shipping (yes I know I’m a self-enabler) so I got two skeins of lovely for a rainy day. They are both madelinetosh fingering weight merino. I don’t have pics yet, but one is blue greens and the other is sort of a dark cobalt. Yum. 

The Clapotis is shaping up well and is proving to be a pretty easy knit. I’ve gotten to a few of the dropped stitch columns. It’s the first time I’ve done a dropped stitch pattern and I have to admit, I get a little adrenaline rush from it. I love being a nerdy knitter! Since my steering wheel has been so helpful already, I’ll continue the trend:

   
 
I was afraid I wouldn’t like it in a solid color, but I do. I hope my MIL likes it too!

I still have no sock pics as they are blocking. It doesn’t look like the weird tension column from the magic loop is going to block out unfortunately, but I’m okay with it. It’s less noticeable when they’re on anyway. I’ve started plotting my next pair, but I really want to get some gift knitting done first. So, on the back burner they go for now (ahem Hermione’s Everyday Socks).

One more pic of pretty for the road:

  
Happy knitting!

I’m Not Holding Out on You

Well, maybe I am, just a bit. What I will say is that I have knitted a bona fide pair of socks. Yep, I did that. The only steps remaining are to block them and then find someone not attached to my feet to take pictures of them being modeled! In the meantime, here’s a little tease:  

While I’m waiting for the yarn to finish my Drachenfels, I’m going to catch up on everyone else’s blogs (I’m behind) and knit a little on my Clapotis. 

More pics and discussion coming soon!

Flawsome Sock!

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to a workshop on internalized misogyny (don’t be scared off–this really is about knitting and it has a happy ending). One of the exercises we did was designed to help people of the female persuasion recognize some of the unconscious misogynistic thoughts that are very, very common. I was shocked at how my typical self-talk measured up when I started paying attention to it. I would generalize that many, if not most, women habitually, internally, unintentionally demean themselves in a myriad of tiny ways. When I started thinking about how to blog about my newly completed sock, I found myself automatically including tiny apologies for the things I did wrong or don’t like about it.

Then I remembered that, for realz, I made a freaking sock. And that is awesome, period. So I am borrowing a term from the wonderful and slightly crazy Tyra Banks and dubbing it “flawsome”. Get it? Flawed + awesome = flawsome. It’s awesome, not in spite of its flaws, but because of them. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the phrase “flawsome sock” just makes me think of “awesome sauce”.

So….yeah. I made a sock! And it’s just what it’s supposed to be. It fits, it’s comfy, it’s a cool color and making it helped me up my knitting skills. I won’t bore you with details of any of its less than perfect features because they really don’t matter (and to be honest, I pretty much covered all of them in a previous post).

IMG_3893I even wove in the ends and everything. How’s that for awesome? Check! And just to make sure that I don’t succumb to SSS*, I’ve already cast on and made it halfway down the cuff:

IMG_3892I used (one size smaller) dpns for the ribbing and otherwise will use magic loop for the rest. Hopefully my gauge is the same! It’s just much nicer knitting on my Addi sock rockets than the aforementioned awful dpns I used for half the last sock.

In the meantime, I have more fun stuff on the horizon. I should get my extra skein of Koigu KPM on Saturday so then I can work on getting my Drachenfels finished. I needed something a little easier on my hands than the socks, so a couple of days ago I cast on for my first Clapotis. Those of you who’ve paid attention to the online knitting community for a while will know that I’m over ten years late on riding that trend, but I would argue it’s become timeless at this point! Plus, it really seemed like the best pattern for the project. I’m making a wrap for my mother in law out of this Plymouth DK Merino Superwash:

IMG_3250_mediumI’m hoping I’ll be able to make it a little wider than the pattern calls for, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t have the best pic yet of my progress but this should give you an idea:

IMG_3889 IMG_3894Other mods I’m making are to follow the advice of (literally) thousands of knitters ahead of me and to RS purl/WS knit the stitches to be dropped instead of using stitch markers to mark them. Also, while the pattern calls to knit the stitch right before and the stitch right after through the back loops, I’m also doing the purl equivalent on the WS. This is supposed to shore those stitches up even more so that when the stitch column between them is dropped, the edges are secure. The setup was a little confusing but once you get going, the pattern is very easy (and very easy to memorize). I hope she will like it!

I got some really exciting news this morning. Carol of Carol E. Herman Designs and knit = joy has released her Passport Mitts pattern early! Check it out! She’s planning to host a KAL starting October 1:

PASSPORT_MITT_small2

Copyright Carol E. Herman Designs. Used by permission.

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Copyright Carol E. Herman Designs. Used by permission.

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Copyright Carol E. Herman Designs. Used by permission.

When my mom was visiting, she asked for a pair of fingerless mitts. We looked through some patterns and she really liked this one, so I’m planning to make her a pair. I have had the best yarn picked out for it forever: Classic Elite Yarns Inca Alpaca in navy blue. I got it from the Goodwill windfall so I think that will be great karma for a gift for her. I’ve got to hurry up and get some other projects done so I can start these soon!

Happy knitting!

*Second sock syndrome: the often insurmountable inertia a knitter must overcome when faced with making an object identical to the one just completed.