Sunday, November 22, 2015

FO(s): A Coupla Cowls

There's been a flurry of knitting activity over here at chez woolly, but as I threatened earlier this month, I can only tell you about some of it.  I'm mixing a healthy dose of selfish knitting in with my gift knitting though so that I don't rage-quit forever and take up basket-weaving or tying knots for fly fishing or something.

I've finished the 3 (4) Color Cashmere Cowl out of Knit Picks Capretta earlier this week.  It hasn't been blocked yet, but the ends are all tucked in, and I'm calling it good.

The light has been all wrong to get really good pictures lately.  We are entering into the season of harsh light that is only available on weekends.  In another few weeks it'll be dark when I leave the house and dark when I get back home again during the work week.  So as far as I'm concerned that means there is no sun Monday through Friday in the winter.

Last year I solved for this by taking my finished objects into work and taking pictures there.  I've recently had to move out of my office, so that solution might not be available for me.  (And as I typed that I realized that the solution is to bundle up and go outside during my lunch break.  I can find a scenic spot to stage photographs somewhere near my building.)

Anyway, the cowl went together without a hitch, and this time I didn't run out of any of the colors before I was done, like I did with the other one.  Somewhere between using four colors instead of three, and purchasing a commercial yarn (rather than the indie cashmere/silk I got at Stitches) I had more than plenty.   I did manage to use up all but about a gram of the light gray, but I have leftovers of all the rest.  Perhaps I'll do some wristers to match the cowl.

Project Notes

Pattern: 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli
Yarn:  Knit Picks Capretta in Caviar, Platinum, Harbor and Turmeric
Total Yardage: 621
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Started: September 23, 2015
Completed: November 18, 2015

Once my second giraffe neck-warmer was finished, I decided I wanted to use some of the new yarn I picked up at SAFF (note to self:  what if you used some of the yarn you picked up LAST SAFF?)

I also wanted a quick fix kind of project.  Something you can just throw yourself into and then come up for air two days later with a finished object.   I knew I wanted to use the Twist Fiber Studio Vanderbilt Bulky I had in teal and a purple/pink variegated.  I don't normally knit with bulky, but something about these colors and the delightfully soft yarn base just called to me.  Also Koren was there chanting "BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT" so that might have been a factor.

I dug around on Ravelry looking for patterns, and ran across the Modish Cowl by Stephen West.     I made a couple of adjustments to allow for the fact that I only had about 160 yards, and BOOM!  This morning I finished weaving in the ends and sewing it closed.

Morgan was very sweet and modeled for me
This is one of those really great uses for garter stitch.  It's simple, pleasant, squooshy, and graphic.  I love it.

Over all I'm really happy with it, and could easily see knitting another variation (possibly long enough to wrap twice, out of a worsted weight?  The possibilities, they are endless.)

Project Notes

Pattern: inspired by the Modish Cowl by Stephen West
Yarn:  Twist Fiber Studio Vanderbilt Bulky in "Crystal Blue Persuasion" and "Roller Rink Disco Party"
Total Yardage: 164 yards
Needles:  US 11 (8.0 mm)
Started: November 20, 2015
Completed: November 22, 2015

A++ would knit again.

Now I just need to decide if I'm going back to working on Christmas Gifts or if I'm going to say "ta heck with it," and Grinch-along with the Knitmore Girls.  Stay tuned for further developments as they transpire.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

FO: Bankhead Hat

So, the thing that you should know is that I tried to give Rowan a hat for Christmas last year.  Well, actually, I successfully gave Rowan a hat last year, but it was entirely insufficient to cover his manly brainpan and voluminous hair.  (It looks great on Jess though, so there's that.)

Anyway, I'm not sure Rowan even wants a hat, but opening a present on Christmas Day, trying to wrestle it on to your noggin and having to give up because, just... no.  Well, that's no fun for anyone.

And after the great success with the striped sweater I know that he does actually appreciate and enjoy receiving hand knits.  Though, and this may be my downfall, there was a great deal of consultation around the sweater.  This hat? I'm just springing it on him.

This hat is actually rather greener than this.
(On the other hand, it's just a damn hat.  It took like 5 hours, tops, so if he doesn't like it, I'll be bummed from a "gave the kid that's hard to gift for something lame" aspect, but in terms of pure time and energy outlay?  I'll be fine.)

Confession time:  I bought yarn for this.  No, more than that.  I bought acrylic for this.  I know. I know.  But hear me out -- this is a hat for a 14 year old dude.  I picked up some Lion Brand Heartland at the Hancocks down the way (and okay, I might also have gotten some Bernat Satin in Navy too.  I needed options didn't I?)

Project Notes

Pattern: Bankhead by Susie Gourlay
Yarn:  Lion Brand Heartland in the Joshua Tree colorway
Total Yardage:  135.5 yards
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) 16" circular
Started: October 21, 2015
Completed: October 29, 2015

Saturday, November 07, 2015

FO: Big Socks for Big Feet

It is with happiness and no little sense of relief that I report to you that Carl's Big Dude Socks are (finally) done.

This is the first pair I've ever knit for him, so I didn't really know what to expect.  I started making plans before I realized that my gauge had changed, so right off the bat I started with some faulty assumptions.  I measured his calf, did some maths based on what my gauge had been, and cast on.

No I didn't do a gauge swatch, don't be ridiculous.

Anyway, I knew going in (and in fact made mention in this very blog) that it might take a couple of tries to get it right.  And so it did.   I knit on the first sock half-heartedly for five or six months, until I'd finished the heel flap and about half the gusset stitches.  In July I finally faced the music and admitted that the socks were too big at the calf and too small across the instep.  An uncomfortable combination at best.

There was nothing for it but to frog and start again.

The second attempt was far more successful.

One of the challenges that I needed to face was, and there's no way to put this delicately, Carl's weird-ass feet.  The diagonal line from his heel to the top of his foot (what the heck is that called?) is longer than average.  (I guess, I mean I don't really go around measuring a lot of dude's feet.  Maybe they're perfectly normal.)

(They aren't perfectly normal. They're weird.)

This bit here that's in red -- on Carl's feet that line is particularly deep.  He has bootylicious heels, or something.  Anyway, I needed to create extra room through that part of the sock.  My solution was to knit the heel flap longer.  A longer heel flap means more stitches picked up for the gusset, which in turn means a deeper gusset, which  means that his weird-ass foot foots in the sock perfectly.


And since he loves them, and I already bought yarn to do another pair, I'm going to write down what I did,  (And if you want to knit socks for Carl, or some other weird-footed dude of your acquaintance, you can too).

Carl's Big Dude Socks

CO 76 stitches, join in round, being careful not to twist (unless your man's foot is actually a klein bottle, in which case twist away, you know your business better than I do).

K2 P2 for approximately 2 inches or until you've lost the will to live, whichever comes first.

Purl across, decreasing 4 stitches evenly across, using a P2tog.  (72 stitches).

K3, P1, until desired leg length is reached.

Heel Flap

Rearrange the stitches so that there are 37 stitches on the instep, leaving 35 stitches for the heel flap. The instep should begin and end with a purl stitch -- this makes for a pretty transition down the length of the foot.

At this point you have a decision to make.  The clever among you will have realized that an odd number of stitches and a traditional Slip 1, K1 heel flap don't mix.  I solved this by ignoring it and did the following:

Turn work.

R1:  Slip 1, p across.
R2:  Slip 1, K1 across until the last stitch, K.

If that bugs you, feel free to add an extra stitch to make the heel flap an even number of stitches.  But I promise you, no one will ever notice.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 a total of 22 times (44 rows).  (A "normal" heel flap would be closer to 18 repeats and 36 rows.  This is where I built in the extra space for Carl's bodacious heel).

Turn Heel

R1: Slip 1, P19, P2tog, P1
R2: Slip 1, K5, K2tog, K1
R3: Slip 1, P to 1 stitch before gap, P2tog, P1
R4: Slip 1, K to 1 stitch before gap, K2tog, K1

Carry on repeating rows 3 and 4 until you run out of heel to turn.  (I am really assuming you are already familiar with basic heel flap sock construction.  If you aren't, I'm very sorry and would like to recommend Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's "Sock Recipe: A Good Plain Sock" as a great place to start.  It's in Sock Rules, which you should totally own.)


Pick up and knit stitches along the side of the heel flap.  You'll pick up 1 stitch in each slipped stitch chain.  You should be getting 22 stitches. (This is not rocket surgery.  Pick up the number that makes sense, and just make sure the other side matches.)

Work across the instep in pattern.

Pick up and knit stitches along the other side.

Arbitrarily decide that your round now begins at the back of the heel.  You can put a stitch marker if it would make you happy to do so, though I rarely bother.

R1: Knit to two stitches before the instep.  K2tog.  Work across instep in pattern.  SSK, K to end of round.
R2: Knit to three stitches before the instep.  K2tog, K1.  Work across instep in pattern.  K1, SSK, K to end of round.
R3: K to instep.  Work across instep in pattern, K to end of round.

Repeat Rounds 2 and 3 until 35 stitches remain on the bottom of the foot.   (72 stitches total: 37 across the instep, 35 on bottom).   If you used a stitch marker to mark the back of the heel, you can take it out now.

Work even until approximately 2" before end of foot, ending after knitting the stitches on the bottom of the foot.


Rounds will now begin right before the first stitch of the top of the foot.

R1: Knit 1, SSK, knit to three stitches before the end of the top of the foot, K2tog, K1. Knit across the bottom of the foot  (70 stitches total: 35 on top, 35 on bottom)
R2: Knit
R3: Knit 1, SSK, knit to three stitches before the end of the top of the foot, K2tog, K2, SSK, Knit to three stitches before the end of the bottom of the foot, K2tog
R4: Knit

Repeat rounds 3 and 4 until 28 stitches remain.  Then repeat round 3 until 18 stitches remain (9 on the top of the foot, and 9 on the bottom).

Kitchener closed and Bob's yer uncle, you've got Big Dude Socks!

Caveat Lector:  I just typed these notes up from memory, and they certainly have not been tech edited. They're just basic, heel flap socks with a longer than average heel flap tho'.

Project Notes

Pattern:  Basic socks, see above
Yarn:   Supersocke 4-fach Mali Color,  "Brown Shades" colorway
Total Yardage:  440 yards
Needles:    US 1.5 (2.5 mm), 2 16" circulars
Started:   January 22, 2015 and July 12, 2015, depending on how you're counting
Completed:  November 1, 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

Have Knitting, Will Travel

Last weekend was SAFF, or the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair if you're fancy, and a good time was had by all.

This is a picture heavy post, y'all.  Sorry-not-sorry.  (Also what are you complaining about, you on a dial up or something?)

We left Murfreesboro at the crack of 8:00 a.m. and drove straight on to a little berg outside of Knoxville where we left wee Bu, happy as the proverbial clam, with her grandma.  Bu is a child of a different disposition from her older sister.  Older sister would not have suffered staying behind at Granny's gracefully.  Bu was pretty much, "Sure, yeah, see ya, bye.  Granny and I have stuff to do... are you still here?"

Then off we went for Asheville.   We stopped at the Tupelo Honey Cafe for a late lunch slash early dinner (side note: they have built a Tupelo Honey in Franklin across the street from my office.  Cue high-pitched, inarticulate sounds of joy).  

Bestie Jess and I at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville

We walked around downtown Asheville for a bit (whereupon I suffered from a bout of camnesia.  Took no pictures the entire time).   But I did prove that I can navigate on foot from Tupelo Honey to Purl's Yarn Emporium from memory, so there's that.  We didn't buy anything, because SAFF and the markets were the next day.  It was fun to poke around and look though.

We also passed by a wig shop (because why not?) and I kept muttering, "Vhen vill you vear vigs?" every time I saw the place because I think I'm funny (YouTube link).

Other than a trip to Target and some truly mediocre live music paired with some truly fantastic goat cheese balls (not a euphemism) at the hotel bar, that was pretty much it for Friday's excitement.

Saturday is when shit got real.

Now, SAFF is not in the same building as it used to be, and they moved the weekend too.  I truly missed the "THIS IS NOT THE TRACTOR SHOW" sign this year, but whaddya gonna do?  The new venue meant that the vendors were nicely spaced and that there was plenty of room to move around, but since everything was all on a level, you totally lost the SHOCK AND AWE spectacle of seeing the vendor floor spread out down below in the arena when you first walk in.

Not that there wasn't plenty of shock and awe to be had.

Best Jess is not amused at my picture taking shenanigans

Morgan was very patient with me tho


I picked up a gradient kit in these colors from the Unique Sheep.

Who doesn't love a llama in a hat?

How gorgeous is this wool rug?

Bestie Koren and I at the Vendor Market

So that night, drunk on yarn fumes, we headed back to the hotel to roll around in our yarn see what we'd bought.

Morgan fell in love with some alpaca.  We had to tell her to stop cuddling it before it all felted.

On Sunday we went back and saw some critters.  This llama and I are going to run away together and get married.  He doesn't know it yet, but I'm sure it will be fine.

What a handsome lad
There were also some fine looking alpaca.

And a whole whack of sheep and goats.  Pictured here are Spotty Dotty, Comma Butt, and Gradient Gus.  Jess is not allowed to name most things, but if I had sheep, I might let her name some of those.

This is the where the vendors were last year. Looking down on that was nothing but SHOCK AND AWE I tell you.

Then it was back in the car and off to find lunch.  We stopped at a great place in Asheville called The Barleycorn Pub, where Morgan reports she was served the best hamburger that she has ever eaten.  My corned beef hash was pretty frickin' spectacular too.

The fun thing about travelling with a GPS as your navigator is that sometimes you get taken by the most interesting routes.  I fed the address to the Barleycorn into Carmen (that's the GPS).  After we got off of the interstate and started driving through a residential area I asked Carmen, "Are we going to someone's house for lunch?"

"Turn Right onto Haywood Road," came the reassuring reply.  In the end we drove straight to the place, and I should never have doubted her.

The mountains were absolutely fabulous on the way back.  The weather had turned ever so slightly colder, and the colors of the leaves just snapped.  Gorgeous.  If you can ever go drive in the Smoky Mountains in the fall, do it.

Back in Knoxville, we got to meet wee Baby Ruth (who is absolutely beautiful), and chat with big brother Thomas.  Oh and their parents were there too.

Wee Bu was thrilled to see us, but was not best pleased to realize that it was time to go home.  She voiced her displeasure with this new circumstance but was finally appeased with the application of animal crackers and Iron Man on the radio.  I was likewise appeased with the application of Starbucks, and homeward we continued.

I decided it would be best to warn Carl about the yarn situation before I got home.

I was kidding.


I bought some yarns

So that's SAFF in a nutshell. I didn't take a class this year, but there was lovely food, lovely company, lovely yarn.  BOOM.

Oh!  And I finished Carl's socks!  They'll warrant their own post in a day or two.

Is it time to start the toe yet?

Overall I give the weekend an A++, Would Go Again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Knits That I Can Show You

I've had a bit of a casting on spree the past few weeks (as one does), but given the season there's a fair bit that I can't (or won't) show you.  Many of my knitworthy constituency read the blog, and there you have it.  

Fear me not, there will be pictures and reports after the Yuletide.  In the meantime I'll try to keep the vague mutterings of "I knit some stuff" to a minimum, as that's no more interesting for me to type than it is for you to read.

All of that said, I do have some progress to report on several of my current projects.

My Four Color Cashmere Cowl is moving right along.  I'm about half done the yellow (excuse me, Turmeric) bit, and then there's another stripe or three and it's done.

I took this picture several days ago, but that's about where I still am, as I've been distracted by other knits.

Carl's Big Dude Socks are so close, y'all.  I can smell victory.

Victory smells like feet.
I posted this picture to Instagram the other day (oh hey, I'm on Instagram, username Kadollan, come follow me).  I captioned the pic "I can call this good right?  I'm done?" or words to that effect.  I cannot believe how long these dang things have taken me.  Though in my defense, once you factor in the more than half sock I frogged, I've knit enough to already be done and then some.

Anyway, I've turned the heel and now it will go WHOOSH! down the foot.  May his second pair not also take a year. Amen, So Say We All, etc.

My Halloween socks (which clearly will not be done for Halloween, but whatever, I do what I want) are also moving right along.  I'm using the OMG Heel by Megan Williams on this one.

Oh, and get a load of that project bag.

I made two -- one for me and one for my "date" to the masquerade ball for the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup.  She made me a bag too (not pictured.)  It's silly and fun and it makes me happy.  Oh, and the best part?  I raided ancient fabric stash for those bag boys (er... bad boys, but that typo is too funny not to leave.)

I plan to do some winter and Christmas themed ones next.

And then in the midst of all this industry, I've cast on a hat.  This is Bankhead by Susie Gourlay.  It's a simple, unisex beanie style cap, and a great use for Lion Brand Heartland (which, okay, confession time.  I like Heartland.  It's soft and the colors are all up my alley.  There, I said it.)

I have about another 1.5" to 2" to go before I start the increases, and then it's a hat for the gift basket.

So that's about all that's fit to print.  I do have some other projects on the go, but as I said... you can't see 'em. So nyeah!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Preparing for a Fiber Festival

Happy Friday, dear readers!

It's fall, and everyone knows that fall means fiber festivals.  In point of fact, Rhinebeck is happening RIGHT VERY NOW (without me, alas.  Perhaps one day I will make my pilgrimage).  That said, we have our very own local Fiber in the Boro next weekend, and then SAFF the weekend after that.

Fiber in the Boro is a small, low-key fest, but I enjoy it.  I appreciate the opportunity to support our local fiber economy, and it's nice to see some old friends.  Plus it's like, three miles from my house.  WIN.

SAFF on the other hand, is another thing altogether.  Koren and I went for the first time last year and it was huge, delightful, overwhelming, and generally awesome.  (And speaking of local fiber economy I didn't realize that Erin Lane - not her real name - of Erin Lane Bags is actually from Murfreesboro.  Had to go alla way to South Carolina to find that out.)

Anyway, the point of all of this is that fiber festivals are fantastic opportunities to learn new skills (if you're into that) and to BUY ALL THE THINGS ... I mean ,.. to do some judicious shopping, in person, of fibers and yarns that may not be easily or locally available.    And the sheer abundance of options, choices, and hell, yarn fumes, that are available can make it really easy to get overwhelmed.

So, this is not a "pick out your workshops, find your map, make a hotel reservation" post.  Y'all can figure that part out on your own.  This is a how to shop post.  (Not that I am by any means an expert.  I should qualify this as a "this is how I shop" post, but that has less of a ring to it.)

So, first things first.  Budget.  Know how much you can comfortably spend without having to serve Kraft dinner or ramen to the family for a month.  Be reasonable, be real, and take cash.  It is way harder to overspend cash when it is gone.  Also, not all vendors are going to be set up to take credit or debit cards.  But unless you are carrying knuts and galleons, everybody will take your cash.  (I am actually fairly confident that some of the vendors would take knuts and galleons too, but I'm not at liberty to discuss which ones.)

Next, give a good hard think to what you actually love to knit.  Not what kind of yarn you love to buy, mind you, but what you actually love to knit.   Variegated fingering weight yarn sure is pretty.  But how many Hitchhikers does one girl need?  (Okay, yes, I know there are a lot more options for variegated yarns.  And arguably one girl needs "all of them" in regards to Hitchhikers, but you take my point.)

So, say you really enjoy knitting with tonal colors.  You love to make cabled hats.  Flat colors make you wrinkle your nose.  Variegateds give you heartburn when you try to knit them.   If you know this going in you aren't going to come home with two skeins of a solid lace-weight and half a dozen wild and funky sock yarns.  Instead, you'll come home with a skein of gorgeous, tonal DK or Worsted for that cabled hat you love.  

My point is:  know what you knit. And remember that what you like to buy is not always the same thing as what you like to knit.

Gosh this is already running long, and I'm not even to the pictures yet.   Still with me?

Because next stop is Ravelry.  What's in your queue?  Your favorites? What are you excited about knitting that you don't have yarn for yet?

There is a free program called Trello (it's a productivity software based on a kanban approach for project or production management).  And because I am me, and this is how I do, I use it to gather my knitting inspiration and wish lists.

My Actual SAFF Trello Board
You could do this any number of ways, but the key factors here are: visual reminders of what you are interested in (before the wool fumes get to you and you completely lose your mind), along with yarn weight, pattern name, yardage requirements (this part is really important) and recommended gauge.

Armed with this information you can come home from your festival with yarn that you are more likely to actually use, and (again this is key) in sufficient quantities.   

If you guys would like more information about how I actually set up the Trello board, just let me know and I can go into more detail around the mechanics of it.

One last thing to consider -- cell reception and data can be really spotty at some festivals.  Which means that you might get out to the Barn of Wonders where all of the vendors are waiting to entice you with their wares, and have no access to your carefully constructed plan.

The solution to this dilemma was stolen wholesale from Aimee Beth of The Fat Squirrel Speaks (who in turn stole it from someone else.)   Save a picture in your phone.  It requires no data to access, so you won't get stuck.

Trello has an app, so I just pulled up my board and took a screen shot.  Bob's yer uncle.

Lastly, but not leastly, check out the vendor list from the Festival's website.  Are there any vendors that you are either dying to check out, or that you know you adore from previous years?  If so, make a note so you can be sure to get over to them.  Ideally you'll get to see all of the vendors, but at the bigger festivals you may run out of time and oomph before you run out of places to shop.  A good problem to have, but let's make sure we hit the Must Sees first.

There's so much more that I could say about this  -- and maybe I should have even approached this as a two or three part series, but I hope that this little taste of my process is helpful.


Carry Cash
Know what you want to knit
Know your vendors

Happy Shopping!  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Focus, Finally. After a Fashion.

I've been as close as I get to project monogamous this past week.  Long-time friends of the show will recall my opinion on the moral implications of the number of projects a person currently has on the go: to whit... there are none.

That said, you can sure get more visible progress when your focus and energies aren't widely dispersed.

This past week has seen a fair bit of progress on my 3 (4) Color Cashmere Cowl.  

If three colors are good, four are better, amirite?  I'm planning to add the Turmeric as the main color block after the skinny teal and grey stripes (er, that's the yellowy-brown for those of you that were raised on the 16 color Crayola box, instead of the mega 120 color set).

Most of my crafting energy (such as it's been) has been spent on the cowl, but I've also finished the heel flap of Carl's second Big Dude sock.  No picture, but y'all know what a grey-brown sock with a heel flap looks like.

I've also done two more squares for the Circles to Squares afghan.  At this rate I could conceivably finish it ever.

I was laying it out according to the little map in the pattern, trying to get a gauge of what size blanket I am going to end up with.  (Pun unintended... but I will admit to leaving it because I thought it was funny.  So there.)  I have around half the squares completed.

That's really it -- I haven't picked up Nurmilintu, my Hitchhiker, my Halloween socks (Christmas socks at this rate).  And we won't speak of the two sweaters I have on the needles at the moment.... Or the shawl.  Or the other blanket...

Look, I'm only flirting with the idea of project focus.  I don't want to get all crazy.