Ten Years Later, My First Clapotis

I have two FOs to share today! First, my Purple Clapotis. Now, I have mentioned that well over twenty thousand other projects have paved the way for me on this one, right? I took the advice many people offered and made a couple of modifications. Otherwise, pretty straightforward. On to the details!

The rundown

Pattern: Clapotis by Kate Gilbert, as published in knitty.com’s Fall ’04 issue

Yarn: Plymouth Yarn DK Merino Superwash, 7 skeins/910 yards. I had 2gm left over. Winning!

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Size made: A little bigger than the pattern calls for. I did one extra repeat of section 2 (made it a little wider) and one extra repeat of section 3 (made it a little longer). I used guidelines I found on the forums on ravelry for yarn usage for this pattern. Specifically, use 20% of your yarn on the setup and increase rows, 60% on the body and 20% on decreasing.

Needles: US8

Techniques used: Nothing too special–just Russian joins.

Modifications: Beyond fiddling with the size a little, I made two modifications. First, the columns of stitches to be dropped are set up by knitting the stitch on either side tbl on the RS. In addition, I purled those same sts tbl on the WS. Second, I purled the stitches to be dropped on the RS and knitted them on the WS so that I didn’t need a stitch marker to mark each one. Both of these were recommended by countless other knitters.

Ravelled: Here.

The pretty

IMG_4015 IMG_4016I was worried while I was making this that it wouldn’t be large enough. When I blocked it, I realized I needn’t have been concerned:

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Please excuse the messy guest room!

The finished measurements ended up being roughly 70″ x 20″. I think it turned out really nicely! I gifted it to my MIL yesterday and I think she really liked it. My hope was that it would be a nice light layer that would help keep off the draft without being too warm and I think the dropped stitch columns help achieve that.

Overall I like the pattern a lot, and could see myself making it again without too many changes. The only thing I didn’t really love was the way the stitches knit and purled tbl pulled away from the neighboring stockinette stitches a little. The best way to fix that, probably, would be to just purl them normally on the WS. However, I think the added stabilization they get from being purled tbl is probably necessary, depending on how slippery the yarn is.

Speaking of the yarn, I probably wouldn’t buy this one again unless it was on sale (again). It was all right and all, but it’s pretty splitty and has a low twist. The color was nice and it was fairly soft, so it would probably be fine for a different project. It just seemed to lose all its twist on the dropped stitch columns so I wouldn’t use it for another Clapotis.

I think I will save my other FO for a second post. See you soon!

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?

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:

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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.

A Little Knitting Business

I’ve been so engrossed in my awesome Drachenfels that I’ve failed to mention a few really important things. So, I will attempt to get caught up now. First off, I’ve toyed with the site a bit and changed some things around to match my aesthetic a little better. As part of this I also changed my blog name to be a little simpler, clearer, and to correspond better with my ravelry handle (alexand). So, welcome to alexand knits! The new URL is alexandknits.wordpress.com. Hopefully the old one will redirect and all will find me. When I started, andalexand was the best iteration of my typical username that I could come up with. I honestly didn’t think it would matter much because I didn’t think anyone would read!

Second, I recently became aware of this awesome group with an awesome mission. They’re called The Yarn MissiOn and they use “yarn to promote Action and Change to eradicate racism, sexism, and other systems of oppression”. I encourage anyone living in the US (particularly) to check them out and see if there are ways you can help out. I think it’s brilliant that this group of fiber enthusiasts and artists has chosen to target racism, in particular. Knitting has brought me both joy and connection to community, so I think it makes sense that it could also bring people acceptance and foster connection between others. Please check them out! They also have a group on ravelry.

Last, um, knitty.com!! Their deep fall 2015 issue is out and it’s breathtaking. I haven’t talked about knitty much on this blog, but that site has played a key role in my development as a knitter. For those who haven’t experienced knitty.com, it’s a free online knitting (and spinning) magazine that comes out at least quarterly. It always has a number of fully developed patterns as well as techniques, knitting and fiber news and articles, and resources to all sorts of things. I think my first project from knitty was a Kureyon Kozy. I made at least three, two of which were given away as gifts. The third? I have it somewhere but not sure where. That pattern served as the starting point for making a number of circular double layer pot holders as well as some Mason jar cozies.

IMG_3273There are a handful of other projects from knitty that I’ve made, and just now I’m contemplating casting on my very own iconic Clapotis. Beyond the patterns, though, knitty has been an amazing resource for various techniques and methods. It also helped connect me to the knitting world in general as it was the first online knitting magazine that I know of. Its publications have always been so imaginative, creative and lighthearted. Its influence on my knitting (and me) has been huge.

So yes, there is a new issue out, and it is awesome.

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you without a Drachenfels update! I put in a little more work on it over the past couple of days. I have phased out the charcoal and am working with the dark grey and spruce now. Soon I will bring in the light blue. Yesterday, I went to the Ply Party at Baltimore’s LovelYarns LYS. It was basically a yarn store party with some local spinners and dyers invited to set up booths. There were also cupcakes. I didn’t end up buying anything, but I did sit and work on my knitting for a bit. While doing so, I noticed a weird stitch a ways back. It looked kind of like I had purled a stitch by accident (the whole thing is garter stitch) or maybe just picked up part of adjacent stitch in a weird way. Not sure, but it wasn’t right and it definitely wasn’t going to block out. So I got out my crochet hook “scalpel” and got to operating.

IMG_3787That’s almost 25 rows down! It always gives me a small heart attack to drop a stitch on purpose, but once I was done knitting it back up you couldn’t even tell. You can see in that pic a little bit of how I decided to handle the color transition. Here’s the rest:

IMG_3793I’m still really happy with it.

Oliver, one of the kitties, was looking particularly picturesque yesterday. He was sleeping in my daughter’s doll cradle:

IMG_3791“What, Mom??? I was sleeping!”

IMG_3792Photo credit for the cat pics goes to the wifey.

The Perils of Knitting

As I walked up the stairs last night to go to bed, I noticed an irritated spot near the base of my right thumb. I thought it was odd, but didn’t think about it any longer than it took to vaguely register it was there. This morning as I was getting a couple of rows in on my Drachenfels, a sudden stab of pain told me what it was. You know my lovely new Addis? The sharp pointed, nickel coated, red cabled ones? Yeah, I was stabbing myself in the hand with them, just often enough to actually cut myself. Whoops…I will have to be a little more careful!

My wound is evidence that I’ve been getting a lot of time in on my project, though. I am tossing around a few other project ideas, but I want to see this one mostly through before I start something else. I’m up to just shy of 200 stitches so the rows are taking longer and longer. The pattern calls for increasing to 240 stitches but I plan on taking it far past that.

I incorporated the third color (dark grey) yesterday. This is how I decided to do it:

IMG_3785The plan is to do another few stripes then drop the charcoal and continue with just two colors. If I had it to do over, I might have chosen to do two stripes of the grey, then two of charcoal, etc. instead of one. I know I could pull it out and redo but…probably not happening this time. Now that I think about it, I could switch to that pattern now before phasing out the charcoal. So if the charcoal is A, the spruce is B and the dark grey is C (and they are), I could go from A B C B A B C B to A B A B C B C B a couple of times, then switch to C B C B. I think that might look pretty cool. Then, once the charcoal is out, I’ll eventually add D (light blue) and phase out B in the same way. By then I should have approximately half a million stitches so I will have achieved my goal of making it larger than called for!

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This is the current state of things:

IMG_3786I’ve had a couple things I’ve had to remedy. I had to drop a stitch down 6 or 8 garter ridges to fix something weird that I did (never figured out exactly what it was) and knit it back up. Another time, I dropped a stitch but for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to fix it. So I tinked back over a row and a half to get a better look at it. I fiddled around with it for a while before determining that I had fixed it, probably right away, and all the ensuing fiddling had just served to distort and loosen up that whole area. A little judicious tugging later and it was back to normal, no dropped stitch in sight.

In terms of other upcoming projects, I’m thinking I might make a purple clapotis for the wifey’s mom. Is it just me, or does “purple clapotis” sound not quite right? In any case, I have over 900 yards of purple Plymouth Yarn DK Merino Superwash that I think would make a nice wrap. I’m still not exactly certain what she wants, but I figure I can always make her another one sometime so she has some variety. Other stuff is still on the back burner, so I won’t go into them yet. One thing I will mention is that I’m thinking of trying to do some autumn and winter/Christmas decorative stuff with some of my stash. Should be fun!