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!

A Goodwill Windfall and Gettin’ ‘er Done

I’ve been busy for the past few days hanging out with my mom (who’s visiting) and acquiring more yarn. We like to go thrift shopping and bargain hunting together, so, well, yarn happens. There are worse things I could hoard, right? Well, sometime in May she was in town and we went to our local “Gucci” Goodwill, so named because it’s in a nice area and tends to have higher end inventory. We’ve had good luck there. I was standing near the staff only area when an employee came out carrying two medium sized plastic tubs. I quickly realized they were full of yarn. I got my mom’s attention and told her we needed to follow. We did and, when we started going through the two tubs, quickly realized we’d stumbled across a bonanza. One tub was priced at $30 and the other at $20. We bought them both.

When we got back to the house, we pulled everything out, sorted it and divvied it up. We took turns picking until everything was claimed. This is not everything, but here’s a glimpse at some of the stuff we ended up with:

IMG_2930IMG_2931IMG_2932IMG_2933IMG_2934Some of the stuff you see there is Roz Houseknecht Handweaving Thick ‘N Thin Wool, Colinette Point 5, Classic Elite Inca Alpaca, Rowan Magpie Tweed, Noro Sahara and Noro Gemstones among many, many others. We added up the total sticker price of everything that had a price tag on it (a lot of it didn’t) and got well over $1000. It was a little insane. A few of my projects so far have used yarn from this amazing haul, notably my Old Shale kids blanket which used Colinette Wigwam.

I have a feeling I’ll always be chasing that “yarn bargain” high! We didn’t find anything nearly so awesome today, but I got a few things.

Since my mom is here, I wove in the ends and blocked her Not a Buff so she can take it with her. I like the finished result a lot:

IMG_3672 IMG_3671She seemed pleased with it. I also finished my Valentine Helix Mittens to go with the Valentine Helix Hat:

IMG_3674Ends are woven in and everything! I must be turning over a new leaf. Also, I decided the Old Shale kids blanket didn’t need to be blocked after all, so that is now officially a FO. That’s three whole new FOs! Even though I haven’t had a ton of time for actual knitting, I’m feeling pretty productive.

The mittens were a bit of a bear. I don’t think I would do helical mittens again. They’re a little funky because the extra rows get a little squeezed when they start and end. I think that helical knitting for hand wear should probably be limited to baby mitts that don’t even have thumbs. I would knit this pattern again, just not the same way. They are supposed to be extra good at staying on (that’s what the long cuff is for) so I’m hoping that they’ll be useful.

Happy knitting!

Helix Mittens and One Teeny FO

I knocked off one teeny tiny FO! Literally teeny: it’s a preemie hat. It’s not the most exciting project I’ve ever done, but it’s done and my WIPs are officially down to single digits. Unless you count the hibernators, which personally? I don’t.

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This is the second preemie hat I’ve made for my stashbusting initiative. I do realize that stashbusting by making preemie hats is something of a Sisyphean task, but it’s a start.

I’m doing a test knit but have run into a snag, so that’s on hold for a bit. I needed something else to work on, so I scouted around for a mitten pattern to match my Valentine Helix Hat. I didn’t find any helix mitten patterns, but I did find one that I could modify to work. I’m about 75% done the first one and so far I’m pleased with it.

IMG_3633I’m using the same Jil Eaton MinnowMerino and this Stay Put Mini Mitts pattern. Incorporating the helical knitting has been a little bit challenging, mostly in terms of maintaining consistent tension. One trick that I will use for the next one is to start each round on the last two or three stitches of the last dpn. That way there’s not a couple of rows hanging out loosening up. I’m going to do the second one with a red cuff. I wanted to do the whole set with pink as the main color but I didn’t have enough.

I’ve been working on organizing my stash somewhat. It’s slow going, mostly because I have a ton of skeins and partial skeins that don’t have labels. A few days ago I used this fiber burn chart that I got from Talya at Duck and Cover to identify some of these unknowns, but I have a lot more to go. I’ve decided to organize it by weight instead of fiber, which was my previous arrangement. It’s fun to go through everything and refresh my memory on what I have, but it’s frustrating, too. I keep wanting to stop organizing and start knitting instead! I start thinking about different projects I could do with the stuff I have, and it’s hard not to get too distracted.

I have a couple of Liebster re-nominations to get to…don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten!

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:

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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?

I Have Some Real FOs!

I’m really working on chipping away at both the stash and my pile of UFFOs (see my previous post for an explanation). I’ve made great progress on both fronts this past week. For starters, I actually blocked something!! It’s true! I blocked my two River District Toques, adult and toddler size. Unfortunately, getting them wet also made them enormous and they didn’t shrink back with air drying. So, I tossed them in the dryer for about 15 minutes in a lingerie (i.e., knitting) bag. Don’t worry, it’s superwash. That did the trick but also reversed some of the blocking…oh well. I knew it was a possibility. The only thing I really would want to fix is how the garter stitch edges along the brims want to curl up a little. I suppose I could just moisten that part and block them that way, but I will probably just live with it instead.

I do have new photos of both hats, but not pro quality nicely lit ones, yet. Hopefully the wifey will have time for those tomorrow. In the meantime, the first is the toddler/child size and the second is the adult:

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I showed them off to the wifey’s family today and my SIL put in a request for one. I have just enough yarn left for one more adult one, so I told her I would make her one.

I also wove in the remaining (very few) ends for the Twirly Summerskirt. It needs elastic in the waistband and a wash/light block and it will be done. Look at all this finishing I’m doing! I still have two larger projects to block (Quicksilver and Old Shale kids blanket) but I need a larger free space open before I can do those.

Now, a small confession: I lost two UFFOs. I actually kind of wanted to finish them, but couldn’t find them in order to do it! I unearthed them today in our rather hoarder-esque guest room, so they should get done soon. They are my Not a Buff and Stashbuster preemie hat #2. I know, I know, preemie hats take about zero yarn so don’t really bust a lot of stash. But, it was quick and easy and the yarn was baby yarn. And I did make two of them so far. Little steps, folks.

I have a couple of larger projects percolating. The first is Drachenfels by Melanie Berg. The issue with this one is that it calls for sport weight, and I really don’t have anything on hand that would be appropriate. I’m thinking about doing it in fingering weight instead and modifying the pattern to make sure it’s large enough. But, I’m still not sure what yarn to use. Thanks to online sales I have a good bit of Koigu KPM that I think would work well. But, I don’t know how the colors I have would play together. I basically have yellow, oranges/golds, light blue, royal blue and purple. I like bold and all but I think that might be a bit much. Thankfully, I stumbled across some on sale the other day and I’m pretty sure I ordered some (I honestly can’t remember). If I didn’t, I might try to pair it with something else already in the stash. We shall see.

The other project in the wings is a shawl for my MIL. That is on hold for a bit until I can be more clear on what she wants and what color(s) she’s looking for. The other other project in the wings is Henry’s Sweater for our friends’ new baby. Quick, highly scientific opinion poll: lemon yellow superwash wool for a sweater for a baby boy? The wifey says no but I think it would be awesome. In any case, that’s really all I have in my stash that is a) enough yarn for the job and b) vaguely machine washable. As it would happen, said wifey was at Goodwill today and kindly scoped out their yarn for me. All there was was a sealed bag with four skeins of yarn. Three of them were Caron Simply Soft in black tweed and the fourth was Cascade 220 Quatro. Since I linked to stash pics, clearly I had her go ahead and get them. I really wanted the Cascade, not so much the Caron…I have a lot of acrylic stuff I might never use. But, since it was literally a package deal, I figured I could just make a hat and scarf for charity with them or something. But, the Caron would technically meet both requirements a and b from above. So I might just make the sweater out of that.

New parents don’t need to be handwashing stuff, right?

One more 100% finished FO for you: my Valentine Helix Hat for the kiddo. This was a quick and kind of fun project! It’s odd because over the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about the concept of helical knitting, but didn’t realize it was already a thing. Then a couple of days ago I stumbled across this pattern, thought it would look even cooler in three colors, remembered I had three colors of the same yarn in my stash, and an idea was hatched.

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I wove in all the ends and everything! The yarn is Jil Eaton MinnowMerino from Classic Elite Yarns. It’s very soft and has a nice, subtle shine to it. I think the kidlet will like it. I’m thinking I’ll try to make some mittens to match it with the remaining yarn.