Monday, May 18, 2015

This, That, the Other Thing, and Stash Dash

It's been another week of jumping from project to project here at chez woolly.   Most of my knitting time has been spent between two projects that I probably won't get much use out of until this winter.

The first is the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli that I've been talking about.  I'm to the stripy bit, and can't wait to add the bright pop of blue into the mix.

I'm actually a little farther than this...I kept knitting after I took the picture.
The yarn is pretty nice to work with -- though the construction makes it prone to being splitty.  It's basically a blend of silk and cashmere singles that the vendor selects and plies together, so it's kind of a "DIY" yarn-- pretty clever, really.  And that color brown is my jam.  

I also cast on When You Wish by Amy Kenagy out of my Into the Whirled in the "il tramonto" colorway on the Manchester Sock base.


I love how different the yarn looked in a cake (and in mid-project) than it looked in the skein.  It's the very best kind of surprise.

I keep telling myself that I'm going to stop buying variegated yarns, but then I don't listen to myself.  So I just need to keep finding patterns that can mix it up and prevent flashing, pooling, and other assorted color-related shenanigans.  

I've also cast on mates to both pairs of socks that I finished last week.  The pink one is past the cuff, and the purple one isn't even past the first row yet ... but it's on the needles by golly, and that counts.

Stash Dash

And to completely change the subject... I am seriously thinking about playing along at home during Stash Dash.   Stash Dash is a summer stash-using event sponsored and run by the KnitGirllls.   The idea is to finish projects during the summer months, and the total yardage should be equivalent to a 3K, 5K, or (for the very hardy) a 10K.   

Best part is, works in progress totally count, and you can count ALL the yardage of a completed project.   There are knitters out there finishing all but the last five rows of a sweater in preparation for this event.   While I'm not that much a gamer (I lie.. am just not that organized well enough in advance), I do have a fair number of projects on the go.   

I probably won't post officially, because frankly that sounds like too much work, but I plan to track my yardage here.  A 3K is about 3281 yards.  I could totally wrap that much up this summer.  Hell, last summer I knit four sweaters.

(I totally just doomed myself.  You don't even have to tell me.)

What are you doing to keep the things you love interesting and fun?  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Two Socks Don't Make a Pair

My recent cast-on  explosion has led to a proliferation of socks on the go.  I have four different pairs that I'm actively working on, and a fifth pair that is in hibernation until I can handle the concept of pumpkins again.

The upside of having four pairs of socks handy and in different stages of completion is that I'm pretty much covered for all occasions.  My vanilla socks have gotten me through two viewings of Age of Ultron (don't get me wrong, I wasn't bored...but my hands were moving pretty much the whole time.  I don't have to look to knit stockinette in the round), and a two-day conference in Nashville.

Plus there's Carl's socks -- I'm turning the heel on the first sock, and it's every bit as exciting as knitting a big sock in browns sounds like it would be.  It wasn't a good candidate for movie or conference knitting because it's at a fiddly bit.    And of course there's my Monkeys, which are not a good candidate for auto-pilot knitting.

Anyway, socks for all occasions, yadda yadda.  The down side of course is that even though I'm doing a fair amount of sock knitting, I'm not netting much in the way of pairs of socks.

Yet.   I mean, this is a long game, obviously, and I'll have to wait a bit for the pay off.  

I finished two socks yesterday.  I have a feeling that if I offered Morgan would be happy to take these two socks and call them a pair.

Best Thing about Spring and Early Summer is the Green Backdrop for Photos
The pink one on top is Lara Neel's "Fork in the Road" socks.  The bottom is a plain, top-down, heel flap sock.  I had a hankering for vanilla socks with fun and funky stripes, so I visited my local and grabbed some Jarbo Garn Mini Raggi (say that three times fast) in the "68103" colorway, and some  Lana Grossa Meilenweit Merino in "2152."   (As an aside, can I just go on the record and say that while I understand that using numbers for colorways in commercial yarns probably makes things easier for the manufacturer, they are evocative of exactly nothing.)

Two Heels, No Waiting
In other knitting news, I'm still working on my 3 Color Cashmere Cowl.  I haven't gotten as much done on it as I'd like, but I'm making some progress.


Between all the sock knitting (which, to be fair, was mostly done out of the house anyway), and the fact that I'm spending way more time exercising than I ever used to, I'm just not knitting as much as I'd like.   Turns out that an hour spent walking is an hour that is not spent knitting.   I'm already feeling more energetic, but I'm still waiting for that balance-payout where I'm getting enough energy out of exercising that I'm not half-dead by the time I finally sit down at the couch.

What's on your needles, hooks, and in your sewing machines these days?

Thursday, May 07, 2015

FO: FebROOary Baby Sweater

One of my very dear friends is going to be having a little girl just about any minute now.  And new babies mean new excuses to knit tiny babby things.

There is nothing quite so satisfying as a wee sweater.  They knit up quickly and their cuteness is often in inverse proportion to their size.  Plus you get all of the satisfaction of sweater knitting at a fraction of the real estate.  Seriously, baby sweaters.  You can't go wrong.

No really, I mean it. Even if you have a disastrous gauge accident, it's fine.  Too small?  Find a bear that needs a jacket.  Too big?  Babies grow.   About the only thing you have to worry about is making sure the neck opening is big enough if you're going the pullover route.

Anyway, do you remember a couple of months ago when I was all "Uh, yeah.  I knit a thing.  But I can't show you."   Well, it's been delivered (ha!), so here I am now with my FO post, nearly two months later.


Meet Elizabeth Zimmermann's February project from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac. This is a "Baby Sweater on Two Needles" -- which does exactly what it says on the tin.  It's my first real EZ pattern (the Baby Surprise Jacket is also on my to-do list), and it was charming, easy, and fun to knit.

Truth be told, if I were to do another, I'd modify the sleeves to knit them in the round.  Just because you can knit a yoke sweater on two straight needles doesn't mean you have to.

I used a microfiber yarn I had in my stash to make life easier for mother and baby alike.  She's a crafter herself and would be absolutely able, willing, and prepared to care for a wool sweater, so that wasn't a concern ...but this is Tennessee.  In May. Microfiber is just fine, thanks.

I did a bit of fiddling here and there to get the sleeves to match, and to have the solid purple land on the garter hems.  I love how it turned out.  That little bit of fussiness just makes the whole thing feel more polished.

I didn't even mind the extra ends to weave in.
Project Notes

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Premier Yarns Serenity Garden, in the "Hibiscus" colorway
Yardage: 239 yds
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm)
Size:  Wee
Started: March 5, 2015
Completed: March 15, 2015




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy

So, I never did write those two FO posts I promised last time.  I need to do that.

But not today.  I'm very nearly almost not sick now.  This cold has seriously outworn its welcome, but it seems to have packed its bags and has at least one foot out the door.   And not a moment too soon.  I've managed to get back to running though!  I'm about a week "behind" (behind what, exactly? behind where I wanted to be, I guess), but I've done the first of the Week 3 runs, and I'm due to run again Thursday or Friday.  (It should be Thursday, but I have other plans Thursday night.)

Last Saturday, the ladies and I went to Stitches South at the Opryland Hotel.  It was really fun, and we got to meet some friends from our online knitting group.  That was completely delightful.  The market was laid out in such a way as to be completely overwhelming, but without being as big or comprehensive as SAFF.   But don't worry, I still managed to do a little bit of damage.


I picked up these three skeins of Cashmere/Silk to make Joji Locatelli's 3 Color Cashmere Cowl.  I love, love, love these colors together.   I had gotten some Knit Picks Capretta to do the cowl, and the colors were really muddy in person.  Not at all what I was wanting.  These are bright, clear, and delicious.

I also got three skeins of Dragonfly Fibers to make Ashburn by Melanie Berg.


We had a great time, and came home and fell over.  Morgan came with us, and got to do a little stash enhancement of her own, so that was really fun.


I managed to get one picture right as we got to the hotel, and that was pretty much it (other than a couple of dark shots I got during lunch at the "Irish Pub" in the hotel.)    Here's a shot of my haul, taken when we got back to the house:


I'm also attending a conference in Nashville this week (conferences are less fun in your own city where you get all of the traffic and none of the company-paid hotel rooms).  


This is how much sock one day of conferencing will net you.  I had two rows (just enough to call it on the needles) going in.   We'll see how far I get tomorrow.

And yes, this is two new projects, and no the pink socks, the monkeys, the cosy blanket, and Rowan's sweater aren't done.  I do what I want, remember?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Kilter is Askew (Cockeyed Even)

You get extra points if you mentally followed up reading the title of this post with "askew means cockeyed."

(As a side note, when I went to look up the quote to reference it, I realized I've been misquoting it for years.  I always say "cockeyed means askew."  ::the more you know gif::

Wow, I haven't even started this post yet and I'm already seriously off-track.

That's what it's been like all week long.  I finally caught the cold that my husband has been fighting for over a week, and I have the attention span of a not terribly bright gnat.  Running is temporarily off the menu, but I am keeping my step count up, because I'm determined not to loose focus.  As soon as I can breathe again, I'll be back in the game.

On Sunday I was sitting in a sunbeam, trying to breathe and single-handedly keeping Kleenex in business, surrounded by four different projects.  I'd pick one up and work on it for a few minutes, and then I'd set it down.  Then I'd forget what I was doing and pick up another one.  I couldn't settle on any one thing, didn't like any of it, and was too stupid to cast on something new (and thank G-d I realized that before something truly disastrous happened).  

Early Onset DaVinci Disorder
I manged to actually make some good progress, despite all the jumping around.  My Cosy Stripes Afghan is sitting pretty at about 48% complete.

This Thing is Gonna Be Huge
I really love how cheerful it is.  I foresee more crocheted afghans in my future.  I'm already debating between a solid Hex modular design, the Groovy Ghan, or to possibly take a departure and knit a log cabin blanket.  Or I could finish the bull's eye blanket that I started two years ago.... NAH....

I also managed to salvage my Fork in the Road socks.  And I learned an interesting thing about sock fit in the process.  I really thought that the socks were too small.  They felt too small going on, etc.  But after I put them in time-out for a few days, I took them out and really examined the fit.  The 64 stitch cast on was actually fine.  The problem was I didn't knit the "gusset" part of the heel long enough before starting the decreases.   Having the heel be too shallow translated into the whole thing feeling too tight.  ::second use of the more you know gif::

So I pulled the heel back out to just past the decreases, added more rounds, and Bob's
Yer Uncle.  Or rather, Bob will be your uncle, just as soon as I finish the heel back up for the second time.

This Sock is in the "Wrestling With an Octopus" Phase
I confess to being relieved to not have to frog three quarters of a sock.  That's the sort of nonsense that takes the wind right out of your sails.

I've also added some more length to my Monkey socks (see, I told you I was working on everything this week).



I've switched these over to a pair of 9" circulars.  I was getting a noticeable line between each of the DPNs (I hate starting a needle with a purl stitch, I can't ever get it to look right).  The 9" circular is a trifle fiddly, but totally took care of the weird line.   I don't think I'm going to become a full convert to this needle type, but I can definitely see where it would come in handy.

I've also got an FO (or two!) to report, but they warrant their own posts.

So that about sums up my (very disjointed) week.  How are things out there with you?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Three Socks Enter, One Sock Leaves

I'm fully recovered from Seder.  So recovered in fact, that I let Sunday blow right past me (the day I've been trying to post my "weekly update" posts) because I was busy-busy.

I've started Couch to 5K again, with Jess, and I'm doing Barre with Koren (mind you by "with" I mean, contemporaneously, not colocationally).  I've also been sewing more, and knitting and crocheting, oh! and going out to meet friends after work, and...

It's Spring, baby.  The weather (or maybe just the weather in my brain) has changed.

The First of Many
On the sewing front, I've made a project bag for an on-line friend.   She won it for the "Mod's Choice" project in our February is For Finishing Frowdown (Ravelry forum link).   While early April is considerably after the end of February, I'd like to point out that with my track record on these things, she's lucky I'm not listing it as a UFO next February.  I'm just sayin'.


It's about 13" wide, and probably about the same deep.  Lined with white muslin, and I used grosgrain ribbon to create drawstrings and a casing.  If you'd ever used an Erin Lane bag, this is essentially a cheap knockoff.   I hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Next up is a project bag for me, made out of one of my favorite old shirts.  The shirt is both way to big for me, and a little worse for wear.  I would be too sad to hand it over to Carl to use as a shop rag, so it will find new life as a project bag for me.  Or maybe two.  It really is a big shirt.


In knitting news, I've been fighting with two pairs of socks, and hopefully winning a battle with a third.  Remember the blue socks I flashed a pic of last post?  I ended up giving the other skein of that yarn to my good friend Bella.  I'd given her two for her 42nd birthday to make a Hitchhiker.  She wasn't going to have enough to make 42 teeth (and after all, that was the point), so I handed it over without a qualm.   Jess is probably going to end up with the 50g I have left, because she has tiny feet.

Then I cast on these:


They are Fork in the Road socks by Lara Neel.  And they don't fit.  I'm either going to rip them out (I'm actually farther than this pic implies) or see if it's just that I didn't knit the heel deep enough before I decreased or ... Erf.   I suspect I just didn't cast on enough stitches.  I used a 64 stitch cast on, and I think I would have done better with 68... if not 72.  Note to self:  If you aren't going to swatch new yarn, and no one says you have to... check the size earlier.

Carl's Big Dude Socks seem to be going okay at least.  ::knock wood::

Man Socks in the "Catfish" Stage of Development
I also worked on my Cosy Stripes and my Pink Hitchhiker since the last time I updated.  I'll share pictures of those next time.

And that's about all the news that's fit to print.  What are you getting done now that the weather is so much nicer?  Is it nicer where you are?  Discuss!


Friday, April 03, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Chag sameach, and good Passover to those that observe and celebrate it.  It's a favorite time of year here at chez woolly.  The grass is green, the forsythia and red bud are in bloom, and it's time to shop for lamb and matzo.


I learned a new thing this year, as I was scouring the local food-sellers (seriously y'all, I've been to four different grocery stores in two days).  We always hold our Seder on the Saturday night that falls within Passover.   That works best for all the guests who have 9-to-5, Monday through Friday gigs (especially since dinner is always followed by more wine, music, and sometimes dancing.)

Anyway, for the last several years I have had the damnedest time finding matzo, and last year I ended up having to hit two different Publix grocery stores to get the lamb (yes, that is a lot of lamb.  I generally feed anywhere from 25-30 people.)   Anyway, this year the first Publix I hit has bales of matzo out in front and four different leg-o-lambs to choose from.   At first I thought it was a Passover miracle, but then I realized that I wasn't buying my groceries three days after everyone else has already been there and done that.    Note to self:  in years where Passover starts on a Wednesday, buy the lamb early.

Getting ready for Seder is a weeks long process at our house.   My house gets serious-deep-cleaned twice a year (don't judge): right before Seder and right before Thanksgiving.  Both major feasts, go figure.    We've been cleaning the carpets, going through cabinets, vacuuming those weird corners where you have to get out the wand attachment and most of the time you don't bother -- that kind of thing.   We've also gotten a new dryer and a new mattress and box springs in the last week or two.

Earlier this week I woke up and found Maurice taking in a sunbeam.  Dude knows how to relax when the time is right.   I decided to take a leaf out of his proverbial book and joined him in that sunbeam on Wednesday.  A bit of calm before the final storm.  (It went like this:  Last weekend: mad cleaning.  Monday and Tuesday: back at the office.  Wednesday:  curled up in a sunbeam with a stuffed hippopotamus.  Thursday: Every. Grocery. Store. In. The. World.  Today:  re-clean all the things that came unclean since last weekend.)


Passover is a time for rebirth and renewal.  It's a New Year's celebration where we celebrate what it means to be free.

When Carl and I got rid of our broken dryer (there are two things I need a dryer to do for me:  start, and dry clothes.  Ours quit reliably doing either one) and our funky old mattress, we weren't deliberately or intentionally engaging in some kind of life-as-ritual activity.  The stuff was broken or crap, or broken AND crap, and it was just time to replace it.

But there's a nice synergy to the timing anyway.   I am very grateful for the freedom to be able to rid myself of things that are no longer functional or beautiful in my life and to replace them with new (or "new to us") things that do work.   Our household has enjoyed some renewal and rebirth this week, and I'm loving it.

Last week my buddy Koren started trying to talk me into doing a Barre DVD that she recently acquired.  I think her long game is to get me to come to class with her, but she knows that I am allergic to leaving my house, and doubly allergic to leaving it in yoga pants.  Anyway, she suggested that she could bring the DVD over when she comes to help get ready for Seder.  

I started to hem, haw, and otherwise make noncommittal noises at her when she said, "Set your intentions for the New Year."

I got goosebumps and my eyes teared up.  I had this immediate, physical reaction.  My whole body said, "Yes.  This."

Dammit.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm as liable to ignore signs and symbols as the next guy, but that was pretty frickin' obvious.  "Alright, alright.  Bring it."

(I did the DVD yesterday.  It was fun.  Who am I?)

As a society, and culture we have a lot of energy and tradition wrapped up in the New Year's Resolution in January (and let's face it, there is nearly as much tradition in the idea of the failed resolution in February.)   It seems to me that January is a crappy time to try to motivate yourself to be healthier, exercise more, etc. etc.  It's dark, it's cold, and everything in your hind-brain is telling you to add a little extra padding here and there so you can live through the winter.   It's not until Spring that I, at least, really start to feel the energy of "a naye yor, a naye leben."

I'm going to play with this idea this year.  I haven't decided what my resolutions for rebirth and renewal are going to be yet (I think they are going to have something to do with decluttering...both my butt and my house.  I have a lot of excess weighing me down these days).   I'll let you know.

What are you doing to bring rebirth and renewal into your life this Spring?

Oh!  And I haven't forgotten that this is a knitting blog.  This is what I spent my sunbeam-day doing:


Trying out knitting a sock on a 9" circular needle.  My hands are confused, and a little annoyed, but I think that once they're used to how to hold the needles, it'll work just fine.  I am really digging the "go around in a circle forever" aspect of it.