Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thinking Big (and Crazy?)

Guys, I have this crazy idea. I suspect it's crazy because two of my closest friends, who also happen to be knitters, responded with much less than their normal enthusiasm when I ran the idea by them. Katy said something like "I don't know, the combination might be a bit much" (which it could be) and Bridgit's comment was "That looks like the most boring knit ever" (which I really can't argue with)... and yet I think I still want to do it.

Copyright westknits
That is a photo of Stephen West's simple and free Garter Squish blanket pattern. It is, indeed, just a big ol' rectangle of garter stitch. However, there is beauty in its simplicity and as I sit shivering in front of my open window (it's spring already) refusing to put on a sweater (I said spring!!) I'm kind of wishing I had a big wool blanket to snuggle in right this very minute. What makes this blanket extra squishy is that it is knit with two strands of worsted weight wool held double on size US 15 (big!) needles. There are three things that are really drawing me towards making this project:
  1. It's about as instant-gratification as a knitted blanket can get, and I do not have a knitted blanket, and that is a shame.
  2. I'm intrigued by the opportunity for lots of fun color and texture effects by mixing up different kinds of yarn.
  3. It'll eat up yarn like whoa. The pattern sample took 3200 yards combined. I might have a spare skein or two of yarn (hah!) that could use knitting up. Especially leftovers.
My mom accidentally bought 5 skeins of Malabrigo in a purple color (Uva) that she thought was brown online, which she gave to me that I'd like to use up:

Malabrigo Yarn Worsted, colorway Uva
That's about 1,000 yards right there, plus I have approximately another 600 yards of purple mystery wool that the Fiasco's mom gave me for Christmas last year, would would bring me up to the required 1600 yards of solid color yarn for the blanket:
Mystery wool
I think the two purples would match well enough. So I knit a swatch with some of the leftover bits and bobs I had handy:

Crazy, beautiful, or crazy beautiful?
That swatch is just about 20 sts cast on and I changed color every three garter ridges. The bottom stripe is some of that Zaftig Bugga I used for one of my three cowls. The next stripe is a deep olive green colorway of DK weight CY Traveller yarn and the teal is a bit of VG Mondegreen, both leftover from my Beribboned Hat samples. Next up is some more Traveller that I had used for my Beribboned Wrists. Then there's some bright green Malabrigo Rios from little Lyra's hat and a bit of variegated Zen Yarn Garden yarn I used in my aunt's Christmas cowl. They're all very different yarns but I think they all work when combined like this... what do you think?

How does it look?
The back of our dusky-teal-with-goldish-tan-accents couch is where I envision this blanket living, how does it look there? As I look around the room the primary colors I see are teal, sky blue, dark blue, bright green, hunter green, seafoam, brown, and a tan/mauve-ish carpet. I'm just not sure how a giant purple blanket will fit in. It certainly wouldn't match, but would the contrast be cool? I kind of think so but would love to hear your opinions. If I use purple as the base color, I would stick to blues, greens, and greys for all the scraps I used... maybe a natural offwhite every once in a while, we'll see. My stripes would also probably be a lot thinner than the ones in the project pages on Ravelry because I won't have full skeins for most of my colors, just partials, and I'm wondering if that will make the colors blend together better OR be too much of a crazy mix for the eyes. Decisions, decisions...

Had any crazy ideas yourself lately?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

IS #20: Inspiration = You Guys!

As many of you know, this was the Annual Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week hosted/begun by Eskimimi Makes. If you don't know, it's a week during which crafty bloggers attempt to blog every day in response to a series of prompts. I am not participating this year, mostly because I had a backlog of things I wanted to blog about without the prompts, but I'm having a bunch of fun reading other bloggers' interesting and inspiring posts! Here are a few I particularly enjoyed.

Snapdragon Crafts:
Over at Snapdragon Crafts, you can find a link to a tool she used to analyze the colors of yarn she knit with most often based on her Ravelry project page. I mimicked her steps and came up with this image:

The left side is a screenshot of my project pages from the past year and the right side contains the main colors/hues present in those photos. I must say, for a self-professed disliker of the color brown, it showed up pretty strongly in the palette -- though admittedly that could be due to the tool picking up on the colors of my hair/eyes/face. Pretty nifty, anyway, and I was not surprised that half the colors that stood out were green-y blues.

Bear Ears:
Audry over at the Bear Ears posted a great infographic: pie charts detailing the percent of her stash that was comprised of different weights of yarn (lace to bulky) and another pie chart showing the colors of yarn in her stash. Oh, how these graphs made my geeky heart happy. I'd like to make some of my own but then I'd have to face exactly how many skeins I have stashed and who wants to know that number? Certainly not me.

The Knitlit Twit:
Joanna over at The Knitlit Twit had one of the cutest representations of her chosen knitting 'house' (think Hogwarts): a tiny crocheted manatee! I also couldn't help but love the title of her post: "Mana-squee"-- appropriate!

Katherine the Great:
Last but certainly not least, Katie over at Katherine the Great wrote a short-and-sweet post that is a lovely reminder of how bittersweet life can be, and how knitting can make it just a little bit better.

What's been inspiring you lately?

Friday, April 26, 2013

FO Friday #16: A Tale of Three Cowls

Friends, it is very rare for me to knit the same exact pattern more than once. It is even more rare for me to knit two items from the same pattern within a week of each other. This rarest of patterns is Zuzu's Petals by Carina Spencer. It is a clever little shawl-shaped-cowl accessory that is simultaneously genius and simple in design and engaging and quick to knit. I think cowls in general make wonderful gifts, they serve the same function as scarves more efficiently (as far as knitting time goes) and they're rare enough in stores to make them uniquely knitterly and therefore more awesome. Anywho, I've made three of these cowls, one for myself last summer and two in the last couple of weeks for gifts.

#1 and #2 are the new ones (size large), #3 is my old one (size small).
Cowl #1 is the large size knit with a skein of my handspun merino/tencel blend yarn. This yarn was the thickest of the three which made this cowl the largest and bulkiest to wear. I'm particularly excited about the way the colors in this cowl worked out. When I spun the yarn, I split the braid in two and and ended up with two little skeins that gradually transitioned from gold through green to a darker brown. When I knit the cowl, I started the first skein with gold and then knit from the opposite end of the second skein so it would transition from brown to gold again.

Cowl #1 - handspun
Cowl #2 is also the large size, knit with the sadly discontinued SG Zaftig Bugga, a worsted weight merino/cashmere/nylon blend. Knitting this yarn was supremely satisfying, the stitches were plump and even and blocked cleanly while the fabric remained soft and supple. Since the yarn is a bit thinner than my handspun and contains a good deal of cashmere which usually drapes, the cowl is a bit smaller/less bulky-feeling when worn than Cowl #1, despite being the same size.

Cowl #2 - SG Zaftig Bugga, colorway Starry Night Cracker
Cowl #3 is the small size, knit with Blue Moon Fiber Arts Marine Silk Worsted, a silk, Merino, Seacell blend which is extra drapey (and wonderful). That drape contributes to why this cowl is my go-to accessory indoors because my neck stays warm without a lot of bulk. I barely even notice it's there when I wear it but it warms me right up, I wore it constantly this winter (which is why it is less crisply pointed than the first two freshly-blocked cowls). The small size is intended to be knit with sport weight yarn but I used the same needles with thicker yarn to compensate for the drape of all that silk and I love the result.

Cowls 1, 2, and 3.
The three cowls pictured side-by-side provides a good representation of their differences. The main difference in the pattern is that you knit the plain stockinette portion to a larger stitch count before beginning the lace and you knit an additional pattern repeat of the lace for the small size. I knit cowls 1 and 2 on size 9 needles and cowl 3 on size 6 needles. The large pattern size produced cowls that were a bit more funnel-shaped and the small size produced a more cylindrical cowl. You can see in 1 & 2 that the lace portion flares out more at the bottom and narrows towards the top while in cowl 3 the width is more equal throughout. If you refer back to the first picture, this affects the way the cowl sits around the neck. I think I prefer the shape of the small sized cowl, which could probably be achieved with the large size as well if you changed the rate of increase so that the stockinette portion became wider faster (more crescent-shaped, less triangle-shaped) which would decrease the height of the plain stockinette portion. I think the large size as written is probably more effective as an outerwear accessory than the small since it hugs the neck more tightly and would keep one warmer, but for comfort and around-the-house wear I really like Cowl #3. If you want more details on size/gauge/etc. because you're a total knit nerd like me, you can check them out for Cowl 1, Cowl 2, and Cowl 3 on their respective Ravelry pages.

Speaking of knit nerds, today is the last day to enter the contest on Vicki's blog interview of me, so don't forget to comment over there for the chance to win one of my patterns!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WIPWed #24: Knitting Spring

When looking at my works-in-progress together, it is clear that I am trying to knit all of the colors of spring at once. And you know what? That makes me extraordinarily happy. Here's what I've been working on lately:

Tiny Turn-A-Square:
The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorways Box Jellyfish and Common Emerald Moth
For this WIP, I'm taking Jared Flood's free Turn A Square pattern and babysizing it for my future nephew. I'm knitting it with sport weight yarn on size 4 needles (instead of worsted on 7's) and cast on 80 sts. I'm doing just one bold stripe near the brim, then will do a series of thin stripes through the decreases. I've stashed a bunch of Bugga but I usually conserve it for the super special projects that I sometimes forget how wonderful it is. It's knitting up delightfully at this gauge (about 6 sts/inch). This little beanie should be done in no time and I'll probably make some matching booties as well.

 Budding Lintilla:
BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Budding Twig
To say I am utterly charmed and delighted by this WIP is an understatement. I really love this thing. I think of myself as Not A Pink Person but there's something about the interplay between it and the bright springy greens and shots of coral in this yarn that I am totally into, and I love the way the short rows in the Lintilla shawlette pattern affect the stripes. It's an addicting little knit, for sure.

Spring-y Socks:
Play At Life Revelous Sockie Maki
This WIP is probably the springiest one yet. I adore the gradient yarn so very much and I just had to pick a delicate, lacy sock pattern to go with it. I chose Hunter Hammersen's Crocus Vernus socks, from her first Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet book. I already pre-ordered the second one, because really admire her design sense.
Copyright Hunter Hammersen
Knit up in my yarn, the socks will start green at the cuff and work their way through pale lilac to a deep purple at the toe. I can see it in my mind already and it's going to be awesome, don't you think?

Starry Petals:
The Sanguine Gryphon Zaftig Bugga, colorway Starry Night Cracker
Finally, this WIP is making me super duper sad that Zaftig Bugga (a hefty, worsted weight version of Bugga) has been discontinued because it is fabulous. Look at how plump, even, and gorgeous those stitches are! It's making such a wonderful fabric. This is going to be a Zuzu's Petals cowl by Carina Spencer. This is one of those rare patterns that I love so much I'm willing to knit it multiple times and I think it makes really great gifts. I actually finished another so quickly last week that it went from WIP to FO without ever seeing the blog. It's blocking now and I will show it off on Friday, but just as a little teaser, I knit it out of this lovely earth-toned handspun:

3-ply worsted weight superwash Merino/Tencel blend
... which did fantastic things in the pattern. Can't wait to show you! I think that's all I've been actively knitting in the last couple of weeks. Lots of new projects, not doing so well with finishing up ancient WIPs, but I'm sure I'll get to them.. someday. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Random Monday

With so much going on lately, I've amassed quite a few little tidbits that I've been meaning to blog about but hadn't gotten around to, so you're getting them all here in one big random post!

1) Remember the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl? Well, it turns out I won a door prize at one of my favorites of the shops I visited that day, Eneri Knits!

They gave me a great zippered tote bag as well as three balls of pretty yellow fingering weight Merino baby yarn and a book of Dale of Norway baby patterns! There's a sweet little dress in there I think would look great in yellow.

I probably won't get around to knitting it anytime soon and the only baby girl I know is quickly growing (sorry, Lyra!) so this will probably be for my own future baby. I'm not planning on having a baby anytime soon, but that's ok, the wool will wait.

2) I finally received the buttons I'd been waiting for to properly finish my Plovate shawl. I finished the knitting in 2 days but had to wait about 4 weeks for buttons. I was about ready to quit on the idea that they would ever arrive... when they came, it turned out I had ordered them from freakin' Hong Kong. No wonder they took so long! Huge carbon footprint on these little leather toggles. Ooops.

They are perfect for this shawl, though! (Sorry for the terrible self-modeled pic, the Fiasco and I never seem to be home together in daylight for a proper photoshoot.) I loved the pattern as well as the finished shawl and highly recommend it.

3) I broke my June Pryce Fiber Arts gradient BFL fiber up into bits in preparation to begin spinning. I love how they look in the ziplocs, especially the blue that goes from light to dark, the finished yarn is going to be so fun. The ziplocs are necessary for both fiber organization and protection, as Darwin got a hold of the braids last week and nearly ripped the blue one to shreds. I was not pleased but I think most of it is still spin-able.

I hope you're having a great start to the week!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

SS: Cheviot

Ready for another installment of my ongoing Spinner's Study?

My thoughts on Romney align with what I wrote in my last post, which is that it's known to be an all-around good workhorse of a fiber that plays nicely, and that definitely seems to be true. It drafted smoothly and easily and made a nice, strong-feeling yarn with just a little bit of shine to it (from its longwool nature).

The wool from the next breed, Cheviot, feels somewhat similar.

Photo from wikipedia
The Ceviot is a dual-purpose sheep, raised for both meat and wool, and comprises its own 'family' within the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. It is the dominant breed in the Cheviot Hills area on the border between England and Scotland.The sheep themselves have 'clean' faces free of wool with dark eyes and noses and their origin is something of a mystery (rumors of sheep escaping from Spanish ships) but they've been around since sometime in the 15th to 17th centuries.

Long staple length with '3-dimensional crimp'
The book describes Cheviot as a neighborly fiber known for durability without harshness. It has a micron range between 27 and 33, which lands it squarely in the medium softness category, edging towards coarse. The book also calls the fiber 'chalky', which is kind of a strange word to apply to wool, but I think I get it. 

The fiber I have is almost fluid in how it drafts, there is no luster or silkiness but the fibers aren't 'grabby' either, they don't grip each other very tightly. Even though it has a long staple length, I have to watch that I don't draft out too quickly and create thin spots in the yarn. That said, it's been very easy-going to spin, and I could see how it would make a great rugged sweater or blanket, since I imagine the fabric wouldn't pill much with wear.

If you like learning about different types of wool, I highly recommend you check out the free Craftsy mini-class "Know Your Wool", taught by Deborah Robinson (one of the authors of the Sourcebook). I watched it the other night and thought it was a great summary and introduction to some of the key concepts in understanding the differences between types of wool.

You can also find info on the other breeds I've already spun up here.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

IS #19: Keep Your Head Up

My apologies for the radio silence this week... I never know quite what to say after national tragedies like the bombing at the Boston marathon. Rambling on about pretty yarn becomes unimportant and I feel that the important things are better said aloud to the people who need to hear them, and a lot of the rest of it is just speculating noise that doesn't do anybody much good. I tend to just silently worry and wait and observe how things play out. Many of my good friends were told to stay indoors and multiple towns were in lockdown throughout the day while officials searched for the suspected bomber, and that's a scary thought. As is how well-adjusted the 19-year-old seemed to his friends, neighbors, and classmates-- and how well-adjusted he obviously wasn't, which is both scary and sad. However, he's now been found and hopefully that fact allows Boston to sleep more easily at night and brings whatever peace can be brought to the people directly suffering from his selfish and inexplicable acts.

If you'd like to donate to The One Fund to help (in some small way) the victims of the event, you can do so here. If you'd like to contribute an 8x8 inch knit or crochet square to a 'love blanket' for a family member of one of the victims, you can find details about it here.

I'd also like to share Andy Grammer's popular single "Keep Your Head Up", which feels appropriate:

I challenge you to not feel better whilst belting out that song. Get the stress out, let the happy in, keep your head up. I'm just a little bit obsessed with his album right now... and by a little bit I mean I've listened to it on loop for a full week. His songs are upbeat but complex, his lyrics are clever and meaningful, and I love his rhythm and voice. Apparently, you can grow up but never quite grow out of becoming a total fangirl over sweet-hearted fellas with guitars (if you're me, at least... how my Fiasco is not a musician I will never understand because I'm a sucker for 'em). This song is my absolute favorite:

"When this world starts getting hard, will you rise above it, rise above it?" Yep.

(By the way, "the pocket" refers to a band that is playing together just right, all the members are hitting their notes just so and it's all feeling really good, that's when they're "in the pocket". It's not (only?) a vaguely sexual euphemism as I'd originally thought...)

Anyhow, that's my attempt to spread a little sunshine and happiness around, if you're feeling like you need a pick-me-up I recommend giving his album a listen. What's been inspiring you lately, in your knitting or otherwise?


Monday, April 15, 2013

Great Rhody

Things I learned over the weekend: for a small state, Rhode Island has a great fiber community. It was the 3rd annual Great Rhody Yarn Crawl and although I worked late Friday night and couldn't get to any stores on Saturday, I spent a nice Sunday afternoon driving around to as many local yarn stores as I could while making up for a stressful work week with gratuitous amounts of yarn.

The grand plan.
That's the route I took (starting at point A) as well as the list of stores I visited plus the farm where the 'culmination' was held. I ended up skipping Love 2 Knit since it was the one store I'd been to a few times already and I was running short on time.

The stores I visited.
The idea behind a yarn crawl is the visit as many stores as possible, get your passport stamped, bring canned goods for donations, and enter into raffles to win prizes. Most stores run special deals as well. I really liked Eneri Knits, it was a decent size (the other RI yarns stores I've seen have been tiny!) and stocked a nice mix of yarns, including Malabrigo (how can a store not carry Malabrigo??) as well as some fiber. The Mermaid's Purl was definitely the cutest of all of the shops, it's located in downtown Wickford which is fun little town with lots of great stores selling unique gifts and trinkets. The Mermaid's Purl is a small space but it is stocked floor to ceiling with yarn and the owners are very friendly. Manmade By Jonne was an interesting place, as suggested by the name it is owned and run by Jonne and it almost feels like walking into his own personal stash. There were yarns I'd never seen or heard of before as well as handspun yarn and numerous handknit items for purchase. Bella Yarns was a more spacious store but it didn't feel that way because it was packed to the brim with shoppers. I almost felt like I was at a yarn festival, chatting and making friends with the other knitters while we waited in line.

Mount Hope Farm 'culmination ceremony'.
It turns out it was a good thing I was running short on time because I think I've determined that 4 yarn stores in one day is my limit. By the time I got to the culmination ceremony at the farm I was quite tired and in a state of sensory overload: too many colors and textures to experience and decisions and rationalizations to make in too short a time! This led to fiscal weakness on my part when I encountered Play At Life (the dyer is in my spinning guilt!) and Stitchy McYarnpants at the mini-fiber-festival in the barn. Speaking of, here are the goods:

Darwin approves of my stash enhancement.
My goals during the crawl were to buy one thing at each store (it's only fair!) as well as to try to find unique things, things that were unlike anything I already had. Starting clockwise from Darwin we have:
  • Frabjous Fibers merino top and Ella Rae Lace Chunky (superwash Merino) and a free measuring tape from Eneri Knits.
  • Two skeins of Berrocco Flicker (a really neat yarn that is mostly baby alpaca with a bit of acrylic and sparkle knitted into a tube) that will become a cool ruffly scarf from The Mermaid's Purl.
  • The colorful fabric is a project bag from Stitchy McYarnpants (love that name) and the equally colorful yarn on top of it is a merino/bamboo/nylong gradient-dyed sock yarn from Play At Life that I purchased at the farm.
  • The red skeins on the armrest are some worsted-weight mohair (which I've never used before) that is actually pretty soft from an unknown company that doesn't make it anymore, purchased at Manmade by Jonne.
  • The brown skeins are pure alpaca from Juniper Moon Farm and are going to be sent to my mom as a get-well-after-surgery gift (she loves alpaca). The purple skeins were a $5 impulse buy: another 'knitted tube' type yarn from Araucania consisting of cotton and a touch of baby alpaca that I thought would make a cool summer accessory. Those came from Bella Yarns as well as a small sample of Eucalan wool wash.
Not a bad haul, eh? I love the yarns I have in my stash (primarily STR, VG, CY, Malabrigo, etc.) but sometimes it's nice to branch out a bit and try different things, which was basically the point of this crawl. It would've been nice to get to more stores but my Saturday was taken up by the RI Spinner's Guild meeting, which was great. It was an art yarn workshop which was rather difficult to participate in because my wheel isn't equipped for art yarns (the orifice is too small) but I tried my best. This is what I made:

Meet Fugly.
I present to you 42 yards of ugly-as-f*#k. The instructor had us tear of bits of fiber into a big pile and then just grab big hunks of the mixed-up pile and start spinning it and let it sort of do what it wanted without trying to smooth anything out or make it neat. Then we tried corespinning, autowrapping, and adding locks of mohair and other curly breeds. At the end I couldn't resist plying my art-yarn single with a commercial yarn just to try to tidy it up a little bit. I don't know if art yarn will be something I spin often (especially since I have no idea what I'd really do with it) but at least I tried a few new things!

I hope you had a fiber-filled weekend, as you can see, mine certainly was. What's the best thing about your favorite local yarn store?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

IS #18: Spring Cardis

I'll get right to the point with this week's Inspiration Saturday post: the new Spring 2013 edition of Twist Collective is a veritable smorgasbord of adorable spring cardis. There are more sweet, feminine, delicate wardrobe pieces than you could shake a flower-bud-studded-stick at, and though I'm normally drawn to the shawls and accessories I pretty much want to knit every single sweater in this issue. Here are three I really loved.

Copyright Jane Heller
This design is Floriston by Elizabeth Doherty. That lace detail continues along the open fronts of this one-step-up-from-basic cardigan but I chose to show the back because I love the pleating. It's such an unexpected, pretty detail that creates a gorgeous silhouette.

Copyright Jane Heller
This pretty-in-pink creation is Cayley by Amy Herzog. Amy actually has two designs in this issue, both of which I loved. I like the classic shape of this one and how the lace details on the cuff repeat across the upper back, giving it a delicate feel. I tend to favorite so many of her patterns on Ravelry, so I think whenever I get around to knitting a sweater for myself one of her designs might be the first. She had a great fit-to-flatter series of blog posts that she's now turned into a book and a Craftsy class, all about how to modify your knitwear to fit your body type, which is super helpful for people with curves and different proportions.

Copyright Jane Heller
Finally, this is Haussmann by Kate Gilbert. I love the wrap style of this piece, which I find very flattering to my body type, plus you all know how I feel about ribbons. What's also really interesting about this one is the semi-sheer fabric knit from a lightweight linen yarn. I'm not sure if I'll ever knit it since it involves linen yarn on size US 3 needles and a crocheted scallop border all around the edges, but it sure is pretty to look at.

What are some of your favorite new designs? Did any of the others in the issue speak to you? Please link along below if you're feeling inspired!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WIPWed #23: Easy Now

I've been all "what do I knit next?" and "which pattern do I match with these yarns?" for a couple of weeks now and my crazy schedule lately has provided an easy answer: ANYTHING. Knit anything simple that I can manage in the very few minutes I have in which to do so. Between (still) trying to finish a publication based on my master's thesis, the Fiasco's car spectacularly failing inspection leading to a bout of reluctant car-shopping, dealing with a cell phone that quit on me out of the blue, worrying over my mom's neck surgery she had today, and preparing for big meetings at work -- things have been a tad hectic. Here's what I've been able to knit this week:

Tiny Turn-A-Square:
Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorway Box Jellyfish (now sold by Cephalopod Yarns)
I have seriously been casting on what will be a baby-sized Turn A Square hat for my future nephew since Saturday. Crazy, right? Right. What is nice, though, is that I was able to get out of work early enough to enjoy some sunshine today, so I headed straight to a local wildlife refuge and took a 2-hr walk through some coastal areas:

My cell phone takes lame photos so this is all you'll get.
After essentially hibernating January through March, it felt so good to be outside again. The only problem is my feet and legs didn't quite agree. I wore new sneakers that have only seen the treadmill for a half hour at a time, so traipsing for 3+ miles over gravel, sand, and grass trails was a bit rough. My feet blistered up pretty bad and I'm sure I'll be feeling the walk in my legs and hips tomorrow... but it was worth it. :)

No other knitting has occurred this week, I swear -- which is just wrong. I have been winding some yarn, though (yes, I'm still in the process of that, too):

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Budding Twig
This lovely springtime-colored-skein will become a Lintilla shawlette, designed by Martina Behm. It is a sweet, ruffly, garter stitch shawlette that will be perfect for office knitting. I'm starting this project instead of all of the ones I debated before, in order to 1) use my home-knitting-time to finish up some old WIPs and 2) give me more time to make up my mind on the other shawls. Solid plan, I think. Plus, who could resist knitting such a happy springtime colorway mid-April? Nobody.

Hope you're all having a good week! Check out more WIPs by clicking the image below.

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 First Quarter Recap

Every once in a while it's good to pause and take stock and that's what this post is about. I made a list of fiber-related goals for 2013 to keep me on track and I figured once a quarter I'll assess what I've accomplished.

Design Goals:
If we're being honest, my designing took a bit of a back seat as I started my new job, moved to RI, and was generally just settling into new routines. Not much on my list has been accomplished yet, but I'm ready to start getting into it again. I've held back a bit lately because I entered into The Fiber Factor competition and was waiting to see if I'd be chosen or not, since that would've taken up the next 6 months of my design time! I didn't get into the competition but I am in the 'meet the applicants' video for a few seconds in case you're curious to hear what I sound like when I'm feeling awkward and rushed before leaving for a road trip (at 4:43 min). Onto the goals:
    • publish a Malabrigo Quickie--DONE!
    • publish a design with Cephalopod Yarns (in progress)
    • publish a design with KnitPicks
    • publish in an online or print magazine
    • finish and publish 4 more socks for my How I Met Your Mother series (2 in progress)
    • design a shawl 
    • finish mitten design
I have the yarn for KnitPicks already and have my eye on a couple of submissions so I think I can make some more progress soon. I'm also planning on jumping back into my Lilypad Socks design, especially now that it's spring. They're actually nearly done I've just sort of, um, misplaced them during the move and need a bit of time to concentrate on the last fiddly bits (once I find them again).

Knitting Goals:
    • finish 50 projects this year (17 complete so far)
    • finish (or frog) all of my ancient WIPs
    • finish 13 SG/VG/CY projects in 2013 (4 complete so far)
    • finish my First Garment vest (in progress)
    • work on my (long neglected) sock yarn opus
    • knit a pair of toe-up socks
    • knit a pair of colorwork socks 
    • knit a pair of socks from handspun yarn
I've made excellent progress towards finishing 50 projects this year, with 17 already done since January, beginning with the Official Zig-A-Zig project. Most of them were small but they still count! I've also gotten a decent start on finishing 13 SG/VG/CY project in 2013 (3 of which can be old WIPs) of which I've completed 4 new projects so far. I have, however, made dismal progress on finishing or frogging my ancient WIPs, seeing as I've been knitting only new stuff. I'm remedying that right now by resurrecting my Beautiful Briny Sea shawl:

SG and CY Bugga, colorways Box Jellyfish and Blue-Ringed Octopus
I stalled out on the ribbing at the bottom of the shawl because I got off by a stitch with all of the M1 increases that were going on, but I've tinked back and am ready to tackle the last few inches. Plus, I should really finish this shawl while the sneakers that match it are still wearable!

Spinning Goals:
    • spin a truly worsted-style skein using combed prep and short forward draw
    • spin a truly woolen-style skein using carded prep and long draw--DONE!
    • spin a skein of 3-ply sock yarn
    • spin a skein of laceweight 2-ply on my spindle (in progress)
After I spin the lovely gradient kit that I recently purchased, I will start on the worsted-style skein using this gorgeous Gotland fiber:

from Two Sisters Stringworks
So that's the plan! Overall, I'm happy with the progress I've made but do very much need to address the hibernating WIPs situation. Twenty-eight is far too many. Did you make a list of goals for 2013? How are you faring?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

IS #17: Overly Inspired

As I debated over what project to begin next, I realized that my problem was a combination of overabundance of choice as well as OCD-like need to find the Perfect Project for the yarn I had to both highlight the yarn itself and fill holes in my wardrobe/accessories. So I spent some time cleaning up my queue and trying to think about what I had and what I wanted and I came to the conclusion that some of my indecision is Gryphon's (from The Verdant Gryphon) fault.

The trouble-making colorway: Ruby-Tailed Wasp
Gryphon is far too good at designing neutral-but-not-neutral-up-close colorways. I've loved the one pictured above for years now. It's a sophisticated black with undertones of bright teal and reddish purples. I adore it, but have not actually knit with it yet for fear of not finding the right project for it. Instead, I slowly accumulated it on a variety of bases: Codex (51% BFL wool, 49% silk, 235 yards worsted weight, 4 skeins), Bugga (70% Merino wool, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon, 412 yards sport weight, 2 skeins), and Mithril (100% Merino wool, 750 yards laceweight, 1 skein). I actually had it in a fourth base, too, but gave that one away because apparently 3 permutations of the same colorway is my limit.

But now, what to knit? It's high time I used these lovelies as they would make perfect work-appropriate knitwear and so I've spent a good deal of time mentally juggling all of the shawls and scarves and stoles and hats I could be making with what I have. Because I'm a little anal about it and I want to make sure I actually wear what I make, I didn't want to choose (for example) two similar-looking crescent shawl patterns for two different bases, as even though they would be different weights they would be so similar in look/shape/color that they'd serve essentially the same purpose and just be redundant. So I think I've come up with a plan... actually, several plans, which is why I'm still debating. What would you do?

Codex choices A & B:
Since the Codex was a special order I had four skeins of it (>800 yards) which really opens up the options as far as patterns go.
Copyright fiberfool
I had originally planned to make a Tesni shawl, designed by Kristi Scheuler, to take advantage of the available yardage. The shawl has a great swing-y shape and calls for over 600 yards of wool/silk blend worsted weight yarn. It would be a good, purposeful, shoulder-warming shawl, almost better for outerwear than for an office accessory. But then, I saw this:

Copyright BellyLaugher
That is BellyLaugher's gorgeous version of Stellaria, designed by Susanna IC. She used a bout 2.5 skeins of  Codex in the same colorway I'm working with and I love it. I would probably modify the shawl to be a little bit deeper but overall I love the look, and I'd have some yarn leftover for a matching hat or pair of Beribboned Wrists.

Bugga choices 1, 2, and 3:
Copyright froggydear
I thought one skein of the Bugga would make a lovely Milky Way Scarf, designed by Lynn Bethke, especially since I had a second skein I could break into if needed to finish it, and then I'd use the rest of the second skein for a pair of socks.

Copyright Rosemary Hill
Option 2 would be the Celaeno shawl, designed by Romi. I have adored this pattern for years and 2 skeins of Bugga would more than enough, might still be able to use the other for a pair of socks. However, the beads are a bit of a deterrent for me. I love them and they're beautiful but they would significantly slow this project down because I could only knit it at home when I'm concentrating. But, I do still want this shawl someday.

Copyright Kate Gilbert
Then of course there's the ever popular (with over 20,300 projects!) Clapotis scarf/stole, designed by Kate Gilbert. It's actually written for about 800 yards of a wool/silk worsted weight (ahhhh another Codex option) but I think I'd like it better in Bugga, I don't want it to be quite that weighty as it would be an indoor-office-scarf. This would probably take both skeins.

Mithril choices X, Y, and Z:

Copyright Tashabear
This is Tashabear's version of the Sweet Dreams shawl, designed by Boo Knits. There was a KAL for this shawl a while back on either the Sanguine Gryphon or Verdant Gryphon boards on Ravelry and I adored every single finished shawl I saw. This is a laceweight, crescent-shaped, gothic-y looking shawl like the Stellaria, so I don't think I'd want to knit both, which is where the main bit of my trouble comes from. Plus, there's another I love...

Copyright picnicknits
Option Y is Longfellow, designed by Corrina Ferguson (one of my faves!) specifically for Mithril as part of her great Seven Sonnets collection. I love the concept of her collection (shawls inspired by poets!), the fact that the shawl uses most of the skein, and I like supporting designers I admire, so this one is high on the list, too.

Copyright SunSun
This is the Dew Drops shawl, designed by Bex Hopkins. It's a lovely free pattern that I think would look striking in a darker colorway, and it's a triangle-shaped shawl so it would be different from all the crescents I've been showing here.

In an ideal world, I'd like to have one scarf, one crescent, and triangular-ish shawl. The way I see it, there are a few viable combinations:

Codex A, Bugga 1, Mithril X
Codex A, Bugga 1, Mithril Y
Codex A, Bugga 2, Mithril X
Codex A, Bugga 2, Mithril Y
Codex A, Bugga 3, Mithril X
Codex A, Bugga 3, Mithril Y
Codex B, Bugga 1, Mithril Z
Codex B, Bugga 3, Mithril Z

Clearly, I'm getting far too caught up in the decision-making process and just need to knit something already.

In related news, The Verdant Gryphon has just started a customer referral appreciation program. Since so much of their popularity came through word-of-mouth of their (rather obsessed) fans, they'd like to give a little back, which I think is wonderful. If you've never ordered from them before and feel inspired to do so by any of my frenzied Bugga/Mithril/Codex love, please consider using my referral number when you order. You need to create a new account on their website and enter "70BKP8" into the 'were you referred to us?' box. If you do, you'll receive 10% off your first order and I'll receive $5 store credit, so win-win! :)

Anyway, I hope you've been inspired by this post to either 1) stop dithering over choices and just get knitting or 2) get some VG yarn. What else has been inspiring you lately? Link along below and share!