Saturday, March 28, 2020

All the FOs: I Was Made For Social Distancing

There's been quite a surge in finishing related activity here at chez woolly in the past few weeks.  Now that I'm a 100% remote employee, during the day if I'm not actively typing or writing something, odds are good there's knitting or crochet in my hands.   Need time to think?  Knit a round on a sock.  On a conference call?  Whip up another granny square for that blanket.

I finished my Exploration Station by Stephen West last Saturday, but it was several days before the light was right for pictures.  I took the first set of pictures while it was overcast, and it sucked the joy out of the outrageous colors I chose. 

I was glad to have the chance to try again a few days later when the sun finally made an appearance.  It was gloomy and grey here in Middle Tennessee for entirely too long.

This shawl is so far outside of my normal "1970s Kitchen Appliance" color palette that it's almost shocking.  I adore it - it was just the shot of cheer that I've needed this winter.

I used two skeins of Dream in Color Jilly, and two of Suburban Stitcher Single Sock.  The rest of the details (including specifics on colorways and how much I used of each skein) can be found here.

I've also recently finished my Litmus Cowl by Amy Edwards Green (Amyflorence of Stranded Dyeworks and Podcast fame).  

This picture was taken on one of those grey days I was talking about - while this cowl actually is more reserved in color than the Exploration Station, it's not as muted as it looks in this photo.

Look at that cute kid, y'all.

I'd originally been worried that I was going to run out of the contrast color, but it turned out perfectly.  I used every drop of the Canon Hand Dyes mini set, and 90 out of 100g of the White Birch skein I paired it with.  Each color was approximately 11 rounds, so I did 9 rounds of the contrast and that solved it.   My Ravelry project page is here.

After I finished the shawl, the only thing I had left other than four (?!) blankets was a pair of shorty socks.

That didn't last very long.

It's time to figure out what the next big thing is going to be. Another shawl?  I'm on quite a shawl kick right now. 

I'll think about it while I work on this sock.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The World's Gone Wild

This week I've developed a weird and intense love-hate relationship with Twitter.  The world's gone wild, and it's like watching the slowest, most ponderous trainwreck.  You can't look away, but nothing's happening. 

There's no toilet paper in the middle-Tennessee area; flour, sugar, and meat are in short supply, and pasta is a dim and distant memory.

But on the bright side, there was a sale on wine, so we're well stocked there.

I'm working from home now, as are many of my close friends.  Which is pretty cool in one respect -- they've specifically asked us not to turn on our web-cams or use video streaming, due to the load on our servers, so that means conference call knitting is happening.

How are things where you are?

Friday, March 06, 2020

February is for Finishing Review, or "How'd all that finishing go?"

We're a week into March, and I've yet to provide a round up of February's finishing shenanigans.  I came into the month with eight projects, and ended with six, so that's a net positive gain of finished projects, and the kind of forward movement we like to see here at chez woolly.

Last year, I pulled a bunch of nonsense and started with four projects, cast on three (oops), finished two, frogged, one, and rounded out the month with ... four projects.  What the hell, last-year Bekah.  What the hell.

Anyway, none of that malarkey took place this year.  I kept my nose clean and poured some solid energy and time into several of my projects - including a couple of the blankets. 

1. Hogwarts Studies Blanket.  I added one row (12 squares). It's now 12x15 squares, and when I hit 12x18 I'm going to think real seriously about stopping.

2.- 3. Weekender Blanket and Scrappy Granny.  I didn't touch these two at all in February.

4. the art of creating comfort.  I really busted a move on this one, doubling the number of finished squares.  I'm aiming for 90 squares and am sitting pretty on 35 (I still need one more of the light green ones to finish out that color.)

5. Divination OWL: a secret country (Exploration Station). On Feb 1, I was a few rows into the brioche section.  I didn't focus a lot of time on this shawl, but still moved it forward nicely.  The brioche and another section are done, and I'm into the last bit before the final border.  This needs to finished by March 31, or I don't get my invisible internet points or my OWL Mistress badge.  I want that badge, y'all.

6. mighty in battle (Hitchhiker).  Finished!  You can read all about it here.

7. to catch or ensnare by the foot socks.  Also finished!  *

8. bold branches bid farewell to rainbow leaves (Litmus Cowl).  I knit roughly half of this cowl in February (using rough maths, and positing about 10% complete coming into the month and figuring 60+% done now).  This cowl is a complete dream to knit -- the only complaint I have is that it's getting long enough now that I have to stop and untwist the whole thing.  It's like a sleeve on steroids.   Remind me how much I love this and how simple it all is when I'm kitchenering the whole business shut in a few weeks, will you?

So that's the wrap-up.  While I only finished two projects, I feel really good about the progress I've made - especially considering that the four not-blankets were all started in January.  I expect and intend that the cowl and shawl should be done by end of March, which means it's time to cast on more things.

Starting with some socks, I think.

* I didn't share pictures of the two finishes, since they both got full FO posts.  Click the links to see pictures!

Sunday, March 01, 2020

The Intersection Between Magic, Politics, and Knitting FO: to catch or ensare by the foot socks

In the center of the Venn Diagram between magic, politics, and knitting lies these socks.

These are White Birch Fiber Arts self-striping sock yarn in the “Study In Peach Mint” colorway. (If you don’t natch right away, try saying it out loud.) I started knitting them in late January when certain political events were playing out in Washington because I’m angry and wanted to do something productive with that anger.

Let me backup a little. Let’s lay some groundwork and define some terms.

Let’s start with magic. I was taught, when I was a wee baby pagan, that magic is the “art of changing consciousness through will” (paraphrased from Dion Fortune). Another way to put that might be “you get more of what you pay attention to” if you want to take all the romance out of it. Here’s the underlying premise--humans are both incredibly powerful and incredibly limited. Our reality is largely defined by how we experience and interact with the world.

I’m not going to get into a debate about objective vs. subjective reality, not even to point out that from our limited perspective as meatsack-mecha pilots, the closest we can get to an objective understanding of reality is a communal agreement that what we’re all seeing (subjectively) is really the way it is. That’s perhaps a rant for another day.

In my practice, I approach magic through metaphor. I find meaning in symbols or stories, and use that to focus my will. A fine example of this (and a nice tie-in with the knitting piece of this equation) is the Knitting in Red shawl that I knit several years ago. The metaphor was that red thread has the power to help knit a life back together. The goal was to process through a period of deep depression. The shawl took me around four years where I spent more time ignoring it than knitting, but by the time I was done the shawl, the worst of the depression had also eased.

Yes, I understand that I was able to finish the shawl because I was less depressed. I also understand that exercising, regular sleep, and an overall reduction in daily stress were also all major contributing factors. That doesn’t mean that the shawl didn’t work -- it totally did. It allowed me a place to focus my will, time, and not inconsiderable talents towards the change that I wanted to see in my life.

My approach to magic tends toward the personal. I use magic, as I define it, to improve my life and well-being. My goals are to improve my health, both physical and mental, and to leave the world a better place than I found it. “Changing consciousness through will” works really well (or as well as it can when the will in question is stubborn and occasionally refuses to cooperate) when I’m only focusing on my own life.

So where does this connect to the political? Feminists and others of a certain age will remember the phrase “the personal is political.” This phrase rose out of Second-Wave feminism in the 1960s, challenging the prevailing idea that the “personal/private” sphere is apolitical and that the “public” sphere is the only place where political discourse belongs.

That sounds pretty great right? Government should stay the hell out of my home and my private life, right? Well, yes, except -- by depoliticizing the “private” women were in effect completely removed from politics and political discourse. (Coincidence? ...I very much think not.) Nevermind the very real consequences of having no societal conversation around things like domestic violence, which member of a household works, legal protection for divorce, etc.
“Therefore feminists argued that the personal is political from two distinct standpoints: politics should include women, who have historically been seen as private individuals; politics should include a wider range of issues, including those historically considered to be private” (source).
So let’s bring it back around - my primary magical focus has historically been personal. I am working to change the world by changing myself. I also hold it to be true that “the personal is political” (second-wave feminism was certainly not without its faults, and we’ve come a long way baby, as they say, but I think they were right about this one.)

Which means that when I use magic and metaphor to change myself, I am indeed impacting the world. When I knit a pair of socks with a snarky colorway name that encourages the removal of our current head of state because I’m absolutely livid at the cesspool that our country has become… well, what does that do, really?

What’s the actual, real world benefit of knitting angry political socks?
  1. The socks are awfully damned pretty. They are also warm and comfortable. I have turned my disappointment and frustration into something positive and lovely, and that’s no small thing.
  2. I have talked about what I’m knitting and why with friends, on social media etc. I used it as a vehicle for conversation.
  3. It helped me to remember to vote in the primary. I had the project with me when I cast my ballot for Elizabeth Warren, but the line was so short I didn’t have time to knit them at the polling station. (No pictures either - they get squirrely when you try to take a picture inside the polls).
So as a result of this magical act I have transformed something hateful into something beautiful, and I’ve gone out into the world and acted in accordance with my beliefs. From my perspective, that makes these socks pretty strong magic, indeed.

Project Notes

Project Name: to catch or ensnare by the foot
Pattern: my standard vanilla sock, CO 68, FLK heel
Yarn: White Birch Fiber Arts 80/20 Merino/Nylon, in "Study In Peach Mint"
Total Yardage: 320 yards
Needles: US 1.5 (2.5 mm) 32" circulars, magic loop
Started: January 25, 2020
Completed: February 26, 2020
Ravelry Project Page: here

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Popping in for a Quickie

I thought about skipping blogging this week, because I don't feel like I really have anything to say.  But that way lies madness and accidentally skipping three weeks in a row, followed by forgetting I have a blog at all for months at a time.

So I figured I'd just pop in for a quickie.  (TWSS).

After last weekend's flurry of activity on Hitchhiker, I'm back to working on all the things.  I'm nearly to the half-way point on my Litmus Cowl.

I'm loving how the colors are working up.  I'm hoping that blocking will fluff up the fibers and straighten out the stitches (no I didn't swatch, don't be ridiculous) because the knitting itself is looking a little wonky and anemic.  I live in hope.

On Friday I decided it was time to move the current sock WIP along, so I knit through about half of the foot and nearly finished the toe.

Then Saturday morning I finished it up and and cast on the second.  If I hustle, I may turn the heel tonight.

I've given Exploration Station just a little bit of love - maybe I'll get enough done on it this week that there will be something worth showing.

I'm also still plugging away on my granny square blanket.  I am closing in on having 30% of the squares done.

So there you have it.   Nothing terribly interesting to report - other than the fact that I haven't cast anything new on and am still making progress on my February is for Finishing goals.  I don't know if that's interesting so much as unexpected. 

Last year I hauled off and cast on three new things during February (one of which I finished during February, so there's that at least).  This year any of my mojo that isn't being channeled into my OWL or Mission (that's Exploration Station and the Litmus Cowl for those of you playing along at home) is going into those blankets or the sock.

With a week left in February I feel good about finishing the socks, and expect to have major progress to show on the shawl and cowl.  I should also be well and away closer to assembly on the granny blanket too. 

The socks might be the only other technical finish this month, but I'll be a lot closer on a lot of things, so it's still a victory of sorts.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

That Takes the Edge Right Off or FO: mighty in battle

Well, I feel better.

After my bewilderment at my lack of progress on any of my knits on Friday, I decided to buckle down and make something happen this weekend.  My spreadsheet (remember the spreadsheet?) said I was around 70% done as of Friday mid-afternoon.

I knit while playing video games with Carl (he drives, I opine).  I knit while chatting with my friends and listening to music Friday night.  I knit last night curled up in my spot with an afghan, some bourbon, and the Yarn Harlot's back catalog (I'm up to 2008.)  I knit this morning while surfing Ravelry.

I started playing yarn chicken when I finished the 41st tooth.

This is the 6th time I've knit Hitchhiker - which in an of itself is something to stop an marvel over.  With the exception of my vanilla socks, I can't think of another pattern with this level of commitment to it that I've knit this many times.

But anyway, the whole shtick with this pattern is that it has 42 teeth.  That's the joke, the point of the name of the pattern.  It's a whole thing.   Never once, spanning seven years and over two thousand yards of yarn, did I hit 42 teeth.  Not even my 42nd birthday Hitchhiker, knit in the same dang yarn the designer used - that one crapped out at 41.

So, I was determined to get 42 this time, and by the time I hit the last tooth I was sweating. Maths and my spreadsheet indicated that it was going to be close.

One row and the bind off to go...

Fortitude provided by Nabisco(tm)

...and this was all that was left.

stitch-marker provided for scale

I made it by the skin of my (har har) teeth.  This is the most satisfying conclusion possible for a one-skein shawl project.  I used every drop of the yarn, and love the result.


(Now, what should I work on?)

Project Notes

Pattern:  mighty in battle
Yarn: Leading Men Fiber Arts Monologue, in "And Then There's Maude"
Total Yardage: 523 yards
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) 24" circulars
Started: January 22, 2020
Completed: February 16, 2020
Ravelry Project Page: here
Mods: Added a row of eyelets on the bind-off row for each tooth.  Followed BO instructions, then YO, K2tog across the row, ending with a KFB.

Friday, February 14, 2020

An Absolute Slog of a Week

I don't know what it is about this week, but everything has been an absolute slog.  Right now my job is simultaneously boring and stressful.  The house is a bit of a mess, but I can't be arsed to care.  My knitting just keeps not finishing itself...sigh... it's just all ...meh.

One could make a compelling argument that the flooding (last Thursday), snow (last Friday), weird 60F temps (Sunday), and more flooding (Tues-Thurs) might have something to do with the current mood.   The other day I looked at my co-workers and with a big, dramatic sigh said, "Do you remember the sun?"   They all agreed that they did not.

February is rough, y'all.

Especially a February that doesn't seem to have any finishing in it.  What?  "No finishing?!" I hear you cry.  That's right my friends, I knit and I knit and I finish nothing.  Sysiphos got nothin' on me. 

I mean, except that I'm not knitting up hill. And arguably I like knitting.  And I can do a little crochet to take the edge off.  And as far as I can tell no one is actually coming along in the night and rolling my shawl back down the hill again...

Okay, so maybe I'm being a little dramatic. 

It just seems like nothing is moving.  I expect socks to drip from my needles, like that one fairy tale princess who had jewels falling from her mouth every time she laughed (which, in retrospect, sounds both horrific and economy killing.  But I digress.) I just want my sock to be done, y'all.

And blankets?  Don't talk to me about blankets.  Who makes 4 blankets at the same time?  Who?  Nobody sane that's who.

I just wish I understood why I'm not finishing anything.

It's a mystery.