Monday, March 30, 2015

That's How We Essay

My post on Project Polygamy last week sparked some interesting conversations.  Several people mentioned that they get anxious, stressed, or just don't like having a lot of projects on the needles at once.  We all agreed at the end of the day though that the number of projects one is comfortable with is, as one of the grand dames of quilting would have said, a Personal, Private Measurement.

Which is to say, your mileage may vary, and that's okay too.

I did realize later that calling it a “treatise” was stretching the matter a bit.  I certainly laid out the problem, but my actual argument amounted to a screencap of Marvel’s Loki saying, “You’re not my real dad!” to Thor.

And that is how we essay here at chez woolly.

In other news, after all that protestation, the sweater that started it all is little more than a wee bit of shoulder shaping and some back-neck action.

I know it doesn't look like much, but there's a sweater in there.

The temperatures dropped again, like they do -- just in case the fruit trees were starting to get their hopes up.  It was cold enough that I decided to work on my Cosy Stripes Afghan...while buried underneath my Neat Ripple Afghan.  It was like that.

Of course today, now that it's Monday, it's back to lovely out.

My handy-dandy spreadsheet tells me that I'm 35% into the stripes.  I'm waffling back and forth on whether to do the edging.  I think I will -- or at least that's the direction I'm leaning, because the Cosy Stripe pattern doesn't make for a tidy edge.

I'm also now more than half done with my third Hitchhiker.  I joined the second ball on Saturday.  If it had been a little warmer, I might be closer to done, but Sunday required serious blanket time.

I've worked a bit on Carl's socks too (I don't have a good, current picture though.  It's still pretty brown, and looks like a sock.  Use your imagination).   I need to get him to try it on, as I'm not convinced about how I've handled the decreases and heel flap.  I may be taking the whole thing back and trying something new.  I've decided to be mellow about it.  I want them to fit him, so I may have to do some tinkering.  All part of the process.

In acquisition news, I got a 9" 1.5 US (that's 2.5 mm) circular needle to play with.  I think that may be the only common way of knitting socks that I haven't tried.  Out of DPNs, two circs, and magic loop, I tend to prefer the two circs.  I decided to give the one 9" circular a try to see what that's about.

Seems like that might also be a good way to do fair isle mittens too.  Although I'd need to get some US 3s... well anyway, socks first.

I might have also gotten some yarn.  There might have been a bit of a Knit Picks... incident.


One of the colorways is "Faun" and the other is "Turkish Delight."  I couldn't not.  And no, that isn't all I bought.  I had to qualify for free shipping didn't I?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Treatise in Defense of Project Polyamory

So last Sunday I said something about trying to be "good" and not cast on anything new.

And while I realize I am very far from the first to raise this important question (The Yarn Harlot herself has been blogging about it for over a decade), I'd still like to ask... When the heck did the number of projects one has cast on become an issue of character?

Is this, like, a Puritan thing?  Because I am definitely not the right tree to bark up with that one.  My nose will have no truck with your grindstone, and you can see your nineteenth century Protestant Work Ethic right back out the same way it came in.

I've been wrestling with this issue for several months.   Friends of the show are no doubt sick of my annual self-flagellation over the state of the work-basket, followed by a month-long parade of Finally Finished Objects.   Remember the year I had 25 projects at the beginning of the month?  I was so horrified by my excess.  My... weakness.

Well, I've started listening to knitting podcasts, and friends, I am a RANK AMATEUR in the work-in-progress department.   One podcaster's WIP count is hanging out around 30, another probably has that many socks in progress.  I want to say at one point I heard the number "75" bandied about.

Folks, my current WIP count  of 11 does not even rate.

And here is the thing -- the one with seventy-something projects?  She is not even the least bit sorry.  No apologies, hashtag: noregrets, etc.   Because what if one project is the wrong season?  Or it got to a tricky bit, and she needed social knitting?  Or maybe she is feeling lace right now, and not cables, or maybe it's the other way.  Point is, she's got options, baby.

So what if I already have two pairs of socks cast on?  What's it hurting if I cast on another pair?  Lord knows I've got plenty of sock yarn.  And I'm not likely to run out of needles any time soon either, I mean let's be real here.

But what about finishing things?  I can hear you cry.  Will you ever finish anything if you just cast on something new every time the wind changes or it's time to pick up a button band?

Repeat after me: This. Is. A. Hobby.  I do this for fun.

I'm not knitting to clothe my family because they would be naked if I didn't.  I knit because I like it.  Don't get me wrong-- I don't actually think that declaring a moratorium on project guilt is going to magically stop me from finishing things (there will always be February, after all).  Heck, I like to finish things.  I even occasionally go on a jag where I finish serially.  And that's okay too.  Basically, I just don't really think it's going to be an issue, but even if it were, who the hell cares? 

What harm am I doing?  Assuming the bills are paid, the children are warm and fed, and I'm not keeping projects in the china cabinet, I would say, simply: "none."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go cast on a sweater.

Swish Worsted in the Winter Wonderland colorway.
Swatched on 8s and 9s, below and above the purl ridge, respectively.

From now on, I do what I want.

My New Knitting Motto

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Jess' particular brand of March Madness seems to be catching.  I've really tried to be "good"* and work on projects that I already have on the needles, but I'm booooooored with all of that nonsense.  That stuff is SO LAST FEBRUARY.

Last night I was casting about for something new (ha ha) to cast on.  I thought about the Color Affection shawl that Koren, Jess, and I have been planning, but we're not quite ready to launch that one yet.  So first I started trolling patterns (like you do) and then I started looking at Knit Picks (like you do), when I decided to get aholta (technical term) myself.

So I went to my Ravelry queue to check out what I already decided to knit, largely out of yarns and patterns that I've already decided to own.  Crazy, non?

So I've cast on Nurmilintu by Heidi Alander.   I'm far enough into it that Morgan looked it over and declared that it's "Just like Hitchhiker, but without the poky bits."  As far as it goes, she's right.  There's lace later, though, kid.  Hold on for it.  I'm using a skein of Rowan Fine Art in the Chiff Chaff colorway, acquired last summer from Little Knits in Seattle.  (I didn't go to Seattle, mind you, just the website).  Do not click the link if you are susceptible to yarn fumes.

One of these things is not like the others...
So this week I've been working on my Pink!Monkey socks, my Pink!Hitchhiker, and then last night I haul off and cast on grey and brown?  I don't even know about myself sometimes.  

I definitely can't blame it on the weather.  It's Spring for real here at chez Woolly. 

Evidence of Spring
To celebrate the vernal equinox, Carl and I burnt off a metric ass-ton of brush (including three Christmas trees.  Who has three Christmas trees in their back yard?  I ask you.)  We also did some weeding back there, rescued some daffodils, iris, and lilies, and started pressure washing our back deck.   We managed to get most of it from black to that's like progress.  (I'm exaggerating.  Slightly.)   The inside of the house needs spring cleaning too, but it was so nice to just spend some time outside.

This picture doesn't have much to do with what I was talking about.
It just makes me happy.
So that's my week.  Pink!Pink!Grey!  It's like a chromatic version of Duck!Duck!Goose.  Don't ask me, I just work here.

*And okay, that is a rant for a different post.  Why is having a lot of projects on the go at the same time a bad thing anyway?  There's not a blessed thing wrong with me having half a hippopotamus in the closet for two years.  My lack of project monogamy isn't hurting anyone.  So there.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Heeding the Call

I don't talk about my religious life on the blog very often.  I've mentioned it off and on throughout the years, but generally I keep the talk to knitting.

Sometimes, though, (and this has happened before), my religious life and my fiber-arts smack straight into each other.   

I suppose that's to be expected when the feminine form of the divine that I find myself most drawn to is, Herself, a fiber artist.

Handy that we have our very own Parthenon, no?

So last year, right before Seder (I know, I know, but it's like that here), I made a trip to our Parthenon to see Athena.   I spent some time in Her temple, knitting.  Like you do.

And while I was there I got the very strong sense that I need to learn to spin.  It's not because She wants or needs me to spin yarn to make a robe, or anything like that. It isn't about the product particularly at all.  It's about the act, the activity of learning a new craft -- this craft in particular.  

Well, okay then.  I'll learn to spin.

I spent a few hours with a drop spindle and came up with the tiniest bit of what could only be very generously called yarn.   It was a little awful, but I made it while trying to learn something new, so there's value in that (even if the yarn itself was fairly ugly).   When we did our picnic at the park for Panathenaia (say that three times fast), I took it and left it in Her temple.

"Alright.  Now learn to spin."

I didn't really think it was going to be that easy.

Last fall Koren and I made pilgrimage to SAFF, so I signed up for a beginning spinning class. On a wheel and everything.   This is far enough outside of my comfort zone that it gave me the heebies just thinking about it.

The class was lovely, the teacher more so, and I fell in love.  I left SAFF with a burning desire to own a wheel of my own and this skein of seriously funky yarn.

Real spinners only wish they could make "art yarn" like this.
I talked it over with Carl, and what with one thing, another, Christmas, and that other thing, a wheel for me just wasn't in the cards.

I did, however, ask him to start trolling Craigslist, just in case.   You would be amazed by the number of planters pretending to be "antique spinning wheels" there are in the greater Nashville area.  I mean seriously.

I had this idea though.  Every step closer I took to learning to spin, the more I felt like I was on the right track.  So I decided that if it was meant to be, if Athena wanted me to be a spinner, she'd help the right tools come to me.

I decided that my budget was about $400 (no matter how badly I wanted a wheel like the Lendrum I learned on).   Craigslist was a vast sea of nothing, and while  I knew I could get a new wheel from The Woolery for about $400, it would be a wheel I'd never tried before, and well, it would be the Yugo of wheels, basically.  Not even the Honda of wheels; the Yugo.  So I set the matter aside until annual bonus time.

Fast forward several months, and bonus time rolls around.   I'm researching my options, asking a lot of questions, looking for local places where I can go and try some wheels out.  That sort of thing. Carl and I decided to check Craigslist one last time, y'know, just in case.  In the back of my head was still this idea that Athena would help make this work.

So all of the sudden, in the middle of the fifteen or so ads for "antique" wheels that looked like they needed ferns planted in them, was this dude selling his mom's old Schacht Matchless.

It's about twenty years old, and didn't have any extra bobbins, no kate, nothing but the one bobbin, a spot or two of rust, and a rotting drive band.

Dude took $400 for it.  His mom inherited it years ago, but she "doesn't do that stuff," so she'd asked him to try to sell it. At the end of the day, everyone was happy.  Thank you, Athena.   

We got it home, cleaned it up, oiled the parts that wanted oiled, and I started playing.

Seriously, I have no idea what I'm doing here.

Look!  2 oz (and about 40 yards) of yarn!  It's mystery fiber that I picked up at Fiber in the 'Boro to play with last fall.

I am quite pleased by how much it looks like yarn.  Yarn that is simultaneously both over- and under-spun, mind you, but yarn nonetheless.

I hope -- I think -- Athena is pleased.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pink is the Color of Spring

Spring is springing out all over the place here in Middle Tennessee.  It's in the upper 70s (still Fahrenheit) and last week's snow and ice is forgotten and forgiven.  Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

It's so pretty outside I voluntarily did yard work yesterday.   I know.  I was shocked too.

On the knitting front, I finished up the thing I was being vague about last week.  I promise once it reaches it's intended recipient I'll read you in.  How boring is "I knit a thing, but it's a secret"?  This is why I'm an inherently selfish knitter.  It's so I can blog about what I'm knitting.  I do it for you, so you'll have something interesting to read about.  In fact, if you think about it, it really isn't selfish at all.  I'm a giver.

I do have a bit of knitting I can show you, though.  I've picked my Hitchhiker v3 back up (remember, I cast this on January 31st, so I could work on it during February if I wanted to?  Yeah, I picked it back up for the first time earlier this week.  Totally skewed my numbers for nothing.)

I've also gotten a bit further on my Monkey socks.  How is it that I've been knitting for as many years as I have -- have been knitting socks specifically, for as many years as I have, and this is my first Cookie A pattern?

I have no explanation for this, save that I default to vanilla socks since I tend to stuff them in my purse for on the go knitting.  I solved for that this time by printing the lace pattern and gluing it to an index card.  I'll just pop the card into my knitting bag with the sock, and Bob's yer uncle.

I seem to be in a bit of a pink phase at the moment.  I'm attributing it to the weather.  I'm so tired of grey and brown and neutrals, it's time for the pop of some brights.

The socks I was knitting for Bu (note the use of the past tense) were a bust.  I cast this wee little toddler sock on no less than four times before I came up with a stitch count/needle size combination that worked, only to realize that there just wasn't enough yarn left to make it work.  I cried uncle, and am frogging the little blighters.  It was a complete knitting fail.

My first shipment of the Miss Babs 2015 Knitting Tour came in on Friday.  I love the yarn, and am not crazy about the pattern that's meant to go with it.  (This is a far more favorable outcome than if I had hated the yarn and loved the pattern.  I'll take it.)

The destination was Sri Lanka, and the yarn is two skeins of Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply (the colors in the photo aren't really accurate -- it's much more of a lovely blue-green in person).   I've spent a fair amount of the weekend looking at two-color shawl patterns.  I'm considering Taygete by Romi Hill, but there are lots of great options on Ravelry.

And of course the spring weather has me itching to cast on a bunch of new things.  I may have a bout of startosis coming on.  I want to do a spring sweater, or the shawl I'm day-dreaming about with the Miss Babs yarn, or ....

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Longing for Spring

I am so incredibly over winter I cannot even.  It was in the 60s today (that's Fahrenheit, hashtag; strugglingwiththemetricrevolution hashtag: temperatureishard), and there is snow and ice on my back deck.  Mother Nature is on a beach somewhere sipping adult beverages -- the kind with umbrellas in, you know the ones -- and she's left her crazy half-sister Marge in charge of the weather.

"Have some snow! Have some ice! It's 60 degrees! I'm a firetruck!"

I've cast on a pair of wee socks for my dear Bu (the youngest daughter of my best Jess, if you wanted to know).  I made Jess a pair of socks with this yarn last fall, and I had about 30g left.  Should be plenty to make some tube socks for a toddler.  It's Patons Kroy Stripes in the "Meadow Somethingorother" colorway (ball band is in the other room, and I cannot be arsed to go look).

Phoebe has declared the yarn "fuzzy, but not too fuzzy," and I'm given to understand that she thinks having socks like mama's would be silly, but not, presumably, too silly.

The fact that they are the color of childhood, happiness, candies, and unicorn fewmets doesn't hurt anything either, because I am ready and beyond ready for spring.

Carl and I spotted these in the grocery store last weekend and we both instantly bee-lined for them.  They are all a little worse for wear now, but we'll be able to plant them so we can enjoy them again next year.  Carl doesn't buy me flowers that often -- which, don't get me wrong, is fine, dude brings me coffee in bed every morning and I'll take that over flowers any day of the week.  But when he does buy them for me, it's like this.  Spontaneous, and in a pot so we can plant them later.  Perfect.

In other knitting and crochet news, the Cosy Stripes blanket is hovering at nearly 30% done (I have a spreadsheet), and Rowan's sweater has the beginnings of a sleeve.  Neither look enough different to warrant another picture.

I've also spent some time working on projects that I can't really blog about yet.  One of them went to it's recipient today, so I will likely to a post on it later.  The other is still in process, so I'll just be irritatingly cryptic and say that I did some stuff, and I really like how it is turning out.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

How Did She Do? February is For Finishing 2015 Round-up

So, I finished three of my twelve projects   Which, on the outset, does not seem all that inspiring.   But I beg, before you pass judgment on my industry or its lack, consider these factors:

  • The three objects I finished were each barely started at the beginning of the month.
  • Great labor and toil was spent ripping out and re-knitting at a larger size the body of a top-down raglan sweater.
  • I finished three other projects at the end of January.
  • Being judgmental is bad for you, and doesn't win you any friends.

I finished the Mullspice Hat, the first link of my BFF Cowl, and Maurice, the Hippopatomas of Love. Since I already blogged about all three of them earlier this month, I won't tired you with more here.

I also frogged Emelie.

So that's where all of my stitch-markers went!
 So where I did have 12 projects, I now have 9.

What's that?  You say that 12 - 3 - 1 does not equal 9?

You didn't really think I'd be five days into March without casting something new on, did you?

I mean, come on, how long have you known me?
And lest you were concerned that you'd be doomed to read about the same sorry eight remaining projects over again next year, fear me not.  I'm still working on them too.

Some of them.

I make no promises about the red shawl.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

FO: Maurice the Hippopampatus of Love

May I present to you, finished after two years of lingering in a plastic box, Maurice, the Hippopampatus of Love.

I started this little buddy because... well because all the cool kids were doing it, frankly.  This was one hundred percent, unabashedly, product crafting.  Putting him together was essentially constructing a 3-D puzzle where I was building the pieces as I added them in.  Once I got a groove on, it was ridiculously fun.

The main reason I didn't finish this back in 2013 (other than my innate propensity for getting bored and wandering off) was that I was worried I would run out of the Knit Picks Shine Sport I was using to crochet him up.  (Remember the Granny Halter I did?  The one inspired by my buddy Erin?  This was an attempt to use up the scraps from that stash-busting project.)  

Anyway, I was right, I wouldn't have had enough.  So I stopped right there at two back legs and an octo-butt (you've seen that picture like three times, so I won't re-post it here) and I ordered some more colors.  I tried to find things from the current color line that would look good with the colors I already had.  If you know anything about how colors change from season to season, you'll know that was more challenging than it should have been.

Anyway, I packed the Hippo Hind-quarters up and waited impatiently for Knit Picks to send my new colors.   Mind you that was back in 2013.  

Hippopampatus of Love
It will shock no one who knows me to hear that by the time the new yarn came in, I'd moved on to greener pastures and turned my attention to other projects.

Fickle, thy name is crafter!

Long story... still pretty long, I read back through the instructions about a week into February, and started really busting it out.

Dat Booty, Though!
On a purely stash-busting front, this project wasn't that successful, as I think I have as much or more Shine Sport in my stash now as I did when I started -- despite using up over 700 yards.  How does that even work?

Project Notes

Pattern:  Happypotamus by Heidi Bears
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport, in a variety of colors
Hook: 3.75 mm (F)
Yardage: 743 yards
Started: August 3, 2013
Finished: February 28, 2015

See my Ravelry project page here for more pictures.

The minute I finished the kids started arguing
over who got to cuddle him first.
I'll do a February is for Finishing wrap-up post later this week, but I really thought that Maurice needed his own post.