Putting in Time

Now that my WIPs have been whittled down a bit, I’ve got two main things on my needles right now. First is my restarted Color Dipped Hat. An overwhelming majority of you advised frogging the first one, and I’m glad I did. I cast on again, one and a half sizes smaller. So far, so good! It’s even going a bit quicker now because I have a good handle on how to do it.

IMG_4264Now that it’s set up, the name of the game is just slogging away at it until it’s done.

My other WIP is my second take on Lacy Loo. So, for this, I have to confess that I broke my yarn diet. I really wanted to make this top and I really didn’t have any appropriate yarn for it. I suppose I could have used a different weight yarn and done the math to modify the pattern, but…there’s a reason I don’t write my own patterns! In any case, I was at my LYS the other day just to hang out and I cruised the sale shelves. I found six skeins of purple Jil Eaton Minnow Merino for half price. I would have liked a little more yardage, but I knew I liked the yarn and it was the right weight. Also, the color is really lush and beautiful. I used the same yarn in different colors to make my Valentine Helix Hat and Mittens. So, I decided to go for it!

IMG_4239See what I mean? So, I cast on again and, a couple of days later, I’m past the sleeve divide and just chipping away at lots of stockinette. It’s aran weight and I’m making the 4T size so it’s not too bad, but it is a little boring. The lace panel keeps it interesting enough, though.

IMG_4265 IMG_4266There are a few short rows on the top of the back. I’ve done short rows before, but never in a setting where a wrap and turn was necessary. So, I learned something new! I actually watched a free class on craftsy about short rows and found it really helpful. My first attempt isn’t perfect, but I’m definitely happy with it. I think blocking will help with the little bit of unevenness there:

IMG_4267I’m really happy with how it’s turning out!

Last for today, I do have an FO to share. I’m not giving it a full post because It was really not a fun project and I don’t love the finished product. I’m of course talking about my garter yoke baby cardi that I FINALLY put the buttons on and washed.

IMG_4247 IMG_4245 IMG_4248See? Buttons. Done. I used Caron Simply Soft Tweed and made the 6-12 month size. It came out a little bigger than the pattern dimensions but I think it will be fine. I opted for ribbing at the bottom and the cuffs instead of garter stitch and I did I cord button loops. For all my complaining about it, I’m happy with how the buttons turned out. It’s so hard to get buttons on knitwear even, but I got pretty close. I even added a yarn “shank” a la TECHknitter so that the loops would actually work.

I didn’t like this project for a few reasons. First, I just do not like the yarn. It’s soft, but in a weird way, and it’s sort of squeaky and weird to work with. I was knitting it at a snug gauge, which probably had something to do with it. Second, I did the sleeves with the crappiest dpns known to man, which just made it painful. Third, black yarn is just hard to see! In any case, I think the finished product has everything I set out to do. It’ll look cute on the kid, it’s machine washable, and it’s a handmade gift. I just won’t be sorry to see it go!

Happy knitting!

Here’s One Way to Get Rid of Some WIPs:

Just frog ’em all. Froggity frog frog frog. Then, you can cast on for something new with a clear conscience! I made the decision to rip out (ribbit) my Color Dipped Hat (thanks for all the advice). I haven’t actually done it yet, but I will. That one I will restart, but I guess I got the frog bug because I just decided to deep six another project that was giving me headaches. The Lacy Loo just was not going to work in Berroco Linet. Just not happening. So, that one will get ripped out too and I’ll keep my eye out for a better yarn choice for the pattern. I also decided to scrap a dishcloth I cast on a couple months ago as I have no idea where I was in the pattern, and not a ton of interest in dishcloths at the moment. So there! Two WIPs gone and one on the way to recovery!

I’ve been knocking WIPs out another way today, too. I’ve actually been working on finishing some of the damn things! I finished the knitting, and even wove in all the ends, on my Garter Yoke Baby Cardi ages ago but was dragging my feet on sewing in the buttons. Well, I sewed on all five of them today and even gave it a wash. Once it dries, it will be ready to get out of my life and off the WIP list! These aren’t the greatest pics, but they prove there are buttons:

IMG_4224 IMG_4225Of note, I used TECHknitter’s button shanking technique. Black yarn is really tricky to photograph. Once it is done drying, I’ll try to get some shots in natural light that are a little clearer.

Another WIP that’s teed up and ready to go is my Sunlight Shawlette. I finally got around to blocking it today. It’s currently drying on our very tidy guest bed:

IMG_4222I’m really happy with how it turned out. I of course forgot to take pre-blocking measurements, but it grew a lot. I hope the recipient likes it! I should be able to give it to her this week.

Oh yeah, and I straight up finished another WIP. Say hi to my third pair of Passport Mitts! I made them out of the same orange Ella Rae Lace Merino DK. These are the size large but like the other orange pair, I stuck with US2s the whole time instead of switching to 3s. This yarn is just not anything close to DK weight and I like the way the knitted fabric was with the 2s. Also, the intended recipient wants a snug fit. I think they’re just about perfect!

IMG_4221So, I’m down to six WIPs. Two are blocking and will be done within a day or two. One is my Drachenfels which I still just haven’t blocked and taken final photos of. I really just want to wear it all the time so I don’t want it out of commission for a couple of days! Plus, to block it, I’d have to legitimately clean off the guest bed and that hasn’t been high on my priority list. I’m left with the Color Dipped Hat which is back to square one and two old-ish WIPs just waiting around for some finishing. Capucine needs tassels and Twirly Summerskirt needs elastic in the waistband.

You know what the next question is, right? What should I cast on next? Well, I swatched for Hermione’s Everyday Socks the other day and came in closer to 8 sts/inch than 9. I was even using US1s! I thought about casting on anyway because I would need to adjust the pattern for my big feet, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s the best next sock pattern for me. I kind of want something with more explicit instructions for how to make size adjustments, or at least something that offers different sizes so that I can see more clearly how to manipulate things. I stumbled across a link to get a free Craftsy.com class the other day and chose to use it on a sock class. I think I might watch that before I start my next sock project.

So, what else is on my queue? A few things, but nothing I’m ready to start yet. I guess I’ll just commence with the frogging!

Knitting Save!

I’ve felt a little at odds with my knitting over the past day or so. Out of four active WIPs, I finished one, worked on one out of obligation, was bored with another and having issues with the fourth. I toyed with the idea of casting on something new but nothing was really coming together.

So, let’s review: the one I finished was my third River District Toque. This one is adult sized. I haven’t taken pictures of it yet, but given that it’s nearly identical to the other adult one I made and is in the same yarn (malabrigo Rios in Archangel), I’m not really motivated to do so. This will be going to my SIL for an early Christmas gift as soon as I’ve given it a wash. I was getting over a cold while working on it so I want to make sure it’s clean. Highlights from that project include grafting in pattern (I’m getting pretty good at that) and weaving in most ends as I went. As a result, I was able to get all the finishing done really quickly. It’s really pretty and I think she will like it!

The obligation WIP is my garter yoke baby cardi. I’ve blogged about this project and its woes before, and it hasn’t gotten any better. It got put on hold for a while because, despite the fact that there are tens of thousands of buttons in this house (really) I could not find more than two matching ones in an appropriate size and color. So, I eventually bought some buttons, then dragged my feet on knitting the button bands and doing all that stuff. I picked it up the other day because if I wait any longer, the baby I made it for will have outgrown it and it won’t be sweater weather anymore! I knit the first button band (the one which will have the buttons sewn on) and then debated for a while on what form of buttonhole to use. I didn’t want to do just a yo/k2tog because the buttons are really too big for that. I didn’t want to get super fiddly and do real buttonholes because, let’s be honest, how many times will this even get worn? I don’t mind putting effort into things, but babies grow so fast! So I figured I’d do applied I cord with button loops.

Sounds simple, right? Well, there are directions in the original pattern for how to do that, but they just weren’t making a ton of sense to me. I’ve done this kind of thing before but couldn’t quite remember how to get going. So, I poked around ravelry and couldn’t find anything. I know it’s there, I just wasn’t able to stumble across it. Then I went to TECHknitter and read everything there about buttons and buttonholes…no luck. I was about to just resort to google when I decided to bring out my go-to handbook again, The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie M. Wiseman. Sure enough, it was all spelled out clearly with clear photos and illustrations. Great! So I did the button loops and cast off. I was feeling like a martyr so I just kept going and wove in all the ends*.

IMG_4085It’s proving difficult to get decent photos of black yarn, but you get the idea. Here’s a better look at the button bands:

IMG_4091 IMG_4092So now all I have to do for this is sew on the buttons and wash it. Depending on how it looks after a wash, I may try steam blocking it a touch…but I don’t really think it’ll be necessary. I’ll be happy to have it done.

The WIP I’m a little bored with is my Sunlight Shawlette. I know the idea is that it’s a simple pattern, but it’s just turning into a lot of stockinette to slog through. I’ve made a little progress on it though.

And last, the WIP that was giving me some trouble? My second pair of Passport Mitts. Everything was going fine. I was working on the first mitt (the left one) and making progress. I was liking the stitch definition of the yarn I’m using as well as the semisolid colorway. Then, I tried it on and realized I was doing something wonky with my tension on the m1r stitches along the right edge of the thumb gusset:

IMG_4081It’s not the most awful thing, but the contrast with the left edge of the gusset is pretty stark. That one looks so neat. So, I wasn’t sure what to do. Rip it back? Ignore it? Mess with the surrounding stitches to try to even things out? Hope it blocks out? I stalled for a little because I really didn’t want to rip it out, but I also didn’t want to ignore it. Well, I picked it up today while I was between chiropractor and PT appointments and just started adjusting the tension. I used the tip of a dpn to snug up the holes and work the extra yarn into the stockinette panel to the right of it. I am very pleased with the results!

IMG_4089So, moving forward I will just try to be more conscious of the tension on those stitches. I also switched out the stitch marker I was using there for one with a lower profile. Hopefully that will help prevent it from continuing to happen.

I’m glad I’ve worked through some of my knitting issues. I’ve been very frustrated with the rest of life in general–it’s taking me so much longer to heal than I’d thought it would and I’m getting really tired of not being able to do stuff that I want to do. Knitting has been sort of my saving grace, so not having a project that I just wanted to pick up and work on was frustrating.

I’ll leave you with a little dose of cuteness. Lately my daughter has been talking about wanting to learn to knit. It’s a little early (she’s not quite three) but it’s really sweet that she’s interested. The other day she put on some dress ups, grabbed some crayons and told me she was knitting:

IMG_4078 IMG_4079 IMG_4080

*I’ll tell you a secret about weaving in ends when using Caron Simply Soft acrylic: Tie knots. Just do it. That yarn is so slippery that I don’t think anything else will hold. What I did in this case was weave in the end with duplicate stitch for a while then split the tail into two pieces with two plies each. Then I ran one half through a neighboring stitch and tied it to the other half with a secure square knot. This thing needs to hold up to machine washing!

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.

IMG_3959

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?

Splitty Yarn, Splitty…Needles??

I am working on the project from hell right now. Many people say that life is too short to knit things you don’t like. In theory, I agree. However, I’m doing this for the greater good! Here are my reasons for forging ahead, despite the fact that every stitch is agony on some level.

  1. The stash. I have a lot of yarn. Not as much as I’ve seen on some people’s ravelry accounts, but still a lot. A good portion of it is beautiful, high quality fiber, a pleasure to work with. A much larger portion is stuff that I acquired before I really knew about LYSes or that there was such a thing as soft wool. Some of it was given to me. Some of it was thrifted and just seemed like too good a deal to pass up. In any case, I have a really hard time getting rid of yarn because I always think that maybe someday it would be useful. So, I want to use up as much of my stash that I don’t love as I can so that I can get it out into the world and out of my basement.
  2. The project and its intended recipient. I’m making a baby sweater for a little one who’s just a few months old. His parents are first timers and non-knitters. The last thing they need is to be saddled with something they have to hand wash, dry flat, and worry about ruining. Even superwash wool has its issues, so in this case I think acrylic is the best bet.
  3. I’m almost done. It didn’t get really bad until I started knitting the sleeves (I will explain further). At that point, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice all the work I’d already done.

So, some details about the project. I’m using this garter yoke baby cardi pattern with only a couple of modifications. I put ribbing at the bottom of the body and the sleeves instead of garter stitch and some of my measurements are a little different (I got stitch gauge but not row gauge…story of my knitting life). I’m using Caron Simply Soft Tweed in black. It is pretty soft for acrylic, but when it’s knitted at a tight-ish gauge, it doesn’t feel as great. I don’t love the yarn and I don’t love the color, but it’s what I ended up with so I’m going for it.

When I started, it was okay. It went pretty quickly. The pattern is nice enough and pretty easy. I was using a set of my new Addi Sock Rockets. Let me back up a little…in a previous post, I discussed a little about knitting needles and my preferences. Fogknits left me a very useful comment:

I LOVE Addi Rockets! I’m not a fan of the brass coating on the lace. The Rockets are the perfect compromise for me 🙂

Sadly, I don’t like the Addi Click set at all. The join is not smooth at all. The ‘click’ bit works perfect…I have never once had a tip fall off and leave me in a panic but it’s really had to get beyond that join. Addis are so perfect otherwise. It’s a disappointment to me.

I highly recommend trying it out before buying, maybe a local friend or even a shop will let you try them out first. I’ve just accepted it and buy the fixed sets.

Shortly after that, I stumbled across a serious deal on ebay for some Addis. I might have bought a lot of them (like, ten). The ones I got are essentially sock rockets but they are the kind that were only available in Europe, I think. In any case, they have the long pointy lace tips, the super slick nickel coating and red cables. I love them. They are absolutely perfect.

So, I started the baby cardi on a set of my new needles. Even though the yarn is a bit splitty, and a bit squeaky when knitted tightly (I’m a rather snug knitter), having it on the Addis made it tolerable. Then came time to knit the sleeves, so I dug out my size 6 dpns. Well, the set I used are Surina brand. I got a bunch of them on sale online somewhere and hadn’t used any of them yet. Well, they did not work out well for me at all. They’re not completely uniform in width, the points are weirdly extra sharp yet have a very short taper, and worst of all…the tips are splitty. Yes, splitty. Don’t ask me how knitting needles can be splitty, but these are. The tips are just too pointy and sharp to hold up to actual use. Splitty yarn combined with splitty needles makes for some tedious knitting! So, doing the sleeves was akin to absolute torture. The good news? The sleeves are done so I can go back to my Addis for the button bands!

Here’s an in progress pic:

IMG_3520

And a close up of the knitting:

IMG_3507And the current state of afffairs:

IMG_3542It probably won’t get finished for a couple more days as I haven’t picked out buttons yet. That will involve a foray into the basement which, honestly, could take hours! So I get to cast on for something else in the meantime. Unfortunately, I can’t share details on my next project yet as it’s a test knit that I need to keep under wraps until the pattern is published. I can divulge one thing: I am planning (as long as gauge cooperates) to use this yarn from my Goodwill windfall. That will help with my efforts to keep my stash moving and put things to good use!

In other knitting news, I have my first pic featured on a pattern page on ravelry! I owe this much more to the cuteness of my daughter and the photography skills of my wife than my own knitting prowess, but I’m still pretty psyched about it. The project is my Valentine Helix Hat and this is the pic (photo credit to the wifey):

IMG_2053Pretty cute, right?