Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7.18.17

 
I have not been able to resist making this sweater.  It is Granito by Joji Locatelli.  Such beautiful simplicity, that thing.  Those pefectly placed pockets.  The skinny sleeve/baggy body combo that I'm so into right now.  Even though I suspect this otherwise very good yarn (Holst Supersoft) is not a good match for the pattern--Supersoft is quite rustic and a little bit scruffy and light as a feather, which is ordinarily one of it's big advantages, but it isn't going to drape at all, and Granito seems to need drape--I had some Supersoft in the stash and this pattern was crying out to me.  It may work out just fine, but somehow that isn't the point right now.  I have reservations, indeed I had reservations when I set out, but I am enjoying it anyway, and I might surprise myself--it could be perfect.  It might!  We knit on the porch, Catdog and I.  She offers advice and suggestions, and raises an eyebrow slightly at me now and then, when I make an ill-considered yarn substitution, but for the most part she is intent on the arrival of the garbage truck or the mail carrier or somebody going by on a bike, and can't really be bothered with my yarn problems.
In non-sweater news, I am clearing out my closets and foisting all the granny blankets on my kids, who unwittingly walked into my trap this week and are now doomed to be sent home overloaded with Mom's Crochet.  Honestly, I love all these blankets (you may remember some of them) but there are only so many beds around here, and only so many blankets two people can use.  Go forth into the world, yarny blankets, and keep warm the assorted college students and bohemians.  (And take a few quilts with you!)
A couple of my beautiful girls brought their own projects in progress with them, too.  I may have taken seventy-three photos and a couple videos of them knitting and crocheting, and teaching each other to knit, oh my goodness.  It never gets old.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

These Days

Hi there!  It is summer.  It kind of comes and goes this year, which, thinking back, is kind of how it always goes.  I don't know why I keep being surprised by that.  Last night was freeeeezing, and I doubled up on quilts and wool socks again, and had to shut all the windows, and now, today, well.  You can see how the catdog feels about it.  Warm, sunny, summertime.  The sky is the color of the couch.  Oh, right!  The couch!  I kept forgetting to tell you about it.  Okay, this is the Ecktorp sofa from Ikea, which we bought I think back in 2012, and I had two plain white slip covers for it.  (Guys, don't get a white couch without getting a spare slipcover.  Serious. What are you going to sit on while the only slipcover you have is soaking in OxiClean?) Anyway, after awhile, one slipcover had gotten pretty grubby--and also, I get bored and like to change everything around about every five minutes-- so Michelle and I cooked up another vat of indigo and without any hesitation, I dunked it.  Oh goodness, I love it.  Its the color of blue jeans [obviously] and I think it will fade in kind of a gorgeous blue jeans way [also obviously] and I can hardly wait to watch that happen.  I love that old-blue-jeans-grayish color.  I await that, and also all the other fading iterations of indigo blue this slipcover will undergo.  They are all good.  Indigo dyeing is so much fun.  Everything white that isn't nailed down suddenly looks like a good candidate to be indigo.  I still have the other slipcover, which is still white (for now, for now...) and so will probably alternate them, which should keep me entertained for awhile.  
 
With summertime comes another of my favorite things.  An Open Window, aaahhhh. There's almost nothing better than an open window.  It's really true.  I sit all day beside one open window or another, knitting and drinking coffee, reading and knitting and drinking coffee.  The warm wind blows across the orchards and ruffles the pages of my book, and I can smell dirt and rain and lilies.  The cardinals in the yard say, "Burrito, burrito, burrito!"  I am a summer flower, no doubt about it.  I am also a pragmatic Northerner, though, and I always remember that our summers here are fleeting and that soon (sob), sooner than you would believe, it will be cold again.  So I knit things like this:
This is Basic No. 2, my own top-down, worsted-weight, 5 sts/inch turtleneck pattern, knit this time with a Camaro-inspired rainbow palette across the body and sleeves.  Those stripes!  Bliss.  I feel like this is something I would have worn in 1978, while watching Starsky and Hutch [speaking of which, hoo!  That show was so full of handknits.] I feel like my first boyfriend Bobby from next door had this shirt.  It makes me think of the Brady Bunch and my Huffy ten-speed bike and spending entire fall Saturdays reading comic books.  Next time I'm gonna lower the stripes about two inches, which will make it totally perfect, but this one is nearly there.  The collar is huge.  Ultra.  Mega.  It's 11 1/2" tall, meant to be folded over for a double-thick, no kidding, all-the-way-warm turtleneck.  My neck is pretty long and I am always wishing for more collar on a sweater like this.  It looks a little bit like a neck brace, but I'm telling you, when the wind is howling (just a few months, friends) I will be enjoying that super tall, ultra mega collar very, very much.  Developing these sweater template patterns that are just right for me has been the most rewarding project I can remember.  

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer sweaters, in action

It is raining again.  Or still.  I can't remember a time when it wasn't raining.  I know this is happening everywhere, but come on.  I wore this wool (WOOL!) turtleneck (TURTLENECK!) on Sunday.  We went to Syracuse to see Bob Dylan [the Great Man, in person, hoo!  He could not have been less interested in the audience, or whether we could see him, or whether we were having fun, but I was thrilled anyway.  There's a perfect review of the show here.] Not too warm for a turtleneck, out there beside Onondaga Lake on a summer evening.  Nope, nice and chilly.  This is Stormtracker by Alicia Plummer (I might as well throw out my Ravelry queue and just start knitting her designs.  I love every single one of them) knit in Patons Classic Worsted, colorway "Mercury", which a slightly grayed navy.  I modified the sleeves by working them even for six inches and then starting the decreases, and they fit much better.  Anyway, I love it, and I hate that I can wear it right now.  
 
Also, this is in daily rotation, too.  This is the sweatshirt I have always wanted and needed.  I made this one up myself, and this time I wrote down everything I did so I can refer to it again next time.  This is Basic No. 1, in Cascade 220, color 4010 (heathery gold) and 4192 (shell pink).  Those two colors keep cropping up in my stash, over and over again.  That golden heathery mustard color is so close to perfect it aches.  Anyway, the next time I want to make a top-down crew-neck sweater in worsted weight yarn at a gauge of 4.5 st/inch I won't have to do all the math and figure it out from scratch.  It's taken me how long to do this?  I've made probably fifty DIY sweaters over the years, and I am just now getting around to keeping track of these things.  I know.  I'm working on Basic No. 2now (a worsted weight turtleneck at a gauge of 5 sts/inch) and I'm writing all that down, too.  I'm so happy this is finally getting done.  Knitting life will be so much easier.      

Friday, June 23, 2017

On a roll

Friends, sweater fever is upon me.  I have, I'm not kidding, three newly finished pullovers.  I know!  I know.  It is summer.  What's with all the wool?  I just have the mojo right now.  The gold/pink one (Hilde noticed it was the color of Catdog, which is totally true) is my own pattern, and there will be more on that later.  That one just worked out so well, and stripes will always make things go fast; something about them is endlessly interesting.  Oooh, pink is next!  Aaaahh, it's almost time for gold again!  Two more rows and it's time for more pink!  I am simple.  The bright blue (top right, and below) is my finally finished Folded by Veera Valimaki, and I think I have to conclude that it is too short.  
Another inch and a half and one more set of increases at the hem will transform the way I feel about this garment.  Which, because that pattern is knit bottom-up, gives me a headache.  It means a tedious removal of the cast on edge, with much picking and swearing and cutting of the yarn, bleah.  I do not look forward to that, but the yarn (Madelinetosh Merino Light, in "Ink") is so wonderful, and the fit is otherwise pretty good, so I will buckle down and do that.  I will.  I promise.  
 
This one, the closest thing in the pile to gray [what's going on?] is still wet and is covered with dog hair, but after much re-doing, is also finally finished--it is Stormtracker by Alicia Plummer; plain stockinette in the body, sleeves smothered in cables.  Smothered feels like the operative word with this sweater right now, because I had to try it on a million times while knitting it to check the fit, and it is way too hot around here right now for those shenanigans.  Get that wool off my neck!  I'll show it to you when it's dry.  I will love this one in October, which will come soon enough, I'm in no rush.  I knit those cabled sleeves four times in total to get them big enough for my upper arms--I think I chose the wrong size to begin with, but it worked out in the end.  I assume.  I am not putting it on today, ugh, it's too hot. 
 The rainbow striped thing in the middle is my current obsession, more to come on that one as well, and then last night, I cast on yet another--Mazzy by Elizabeth Smith, that is tweedy and black and I can't wait to wear it.  Because it isn't sweaty enough around here or anything.  I'm just really motivated right now, and in full-on sweater knitting mode.  This does seem to happen to me a lot.  I've been asked, "Isn't summer the off-season?"  Which does give me pause, but no.  I knit like a fiend all the year long, and always something wooly.  That's how I roll.  
I also finished spinning and plying all this, whoo, isn't that pretty?  I bought a big bump of hand-dyed roving at the Fiber Fair so far back in the olden times that the whole thing, about 20 oz. of it, was eight dollars.  It looked to me like the dyer had made an attempt at camouflage--it is comprised of forest green, khaki, black, and little dabs of cobalt blue here and there, but it all blended together at the end to make a really nice teal.  I haven't measured the yardage yet, but there might be somewhere between 800 and 1000 yards of it, which is just about enough to make a--wait for it--sweater.  Because I am a beginner spinner, there isn't much consistency from one skein to the next, so I think maybe striping it with something else will be a good idea, and there is just about enough Malabrigo worsted in "Lettuce" left over from this.  I think that grinchy green will add just the right amount of pizzazz.  What are you guys up to?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Another yarn story

It is porch season.  My house is a complete shambles because I am hardly ever in there at all anymore, now that it is summer.  The dishes are piling up.  I don't even care.  I could get very rhapsodic about the porch, and maybe I will next time, but right now, I have to show you some yarn I made.
Yaaahh!  I know!  Isn't that pretty?  It is full of inconsistencies, but handspinning is no place for perfection, friends.  You can buy perfect yarn at the store.  Handspinning is a place to play, which is what I did.  So there are thick places and thin places, and a few places where it is mighty good, too--that yellow/blue-gray barber pole in the center!  Hoo!  Nice.  I wish the whole thing were like that [stop it. ~ed.]
On Saturday Doc and I went to the Central New York Fiber Fair in Bouckville.  (Hi, Theresa!  It was so nice to meet you!) This fair is still pretty new, but it is so good and Central New York is so absolutely stunning that I am confident that one day knitters from all over the world will gather in June, wearing their Bouckville sweaters (this is New York.  You might still need a sweater in June) and I will have to wait in a really long line for an artichoke french.  I probably could have bought something from every booth.  Doc was with me, though, and helped me keep a lid on it.  By the way, Doc is how you will probably recognize me in the wild--his fiercely handsome and kilted self attracted so much attention, whoo!  After the alpacas, he was the most photographed thing at the fair, I think.  One lady paused to admire his calves.  A little girl wanted to give him a hug.  Everybody was so interested in him, and I was pretty much free to load up on purchases while he was otherwise engaged.  Genius!  The first of my loot, this hand-dyed braid of SW Blue Faced Leicester from Llady Llama Fiber Co. in the colorway "Godric's Sword" was the first thing to hit my wheel.  Isn't it yummy?  Wool!  Harry Potter!  Let's make some yarn!
I unwrapped the braid and divided it in half, the same way you separate strands of embroidery floss.  So, I had two long pieces that were (in theory) identical matches to each other.  
The loose plan at this point was to see if I could maintain some kind of striping by spinning each long strand as a single with even a minimum of consistency, so that when I plied them together, voila, red sections would ply with red sections and yellow with yellow, and so on.  [Spoiler alert:  that's not what happened.  I can't spin with any consistency at all.]. Pressing on!
Here's the first bobbin, in progress.  See how nice?  See how separate the colors are?  If only the second one had worked the same way, and I don't even know what happened, probably I failed to properly pre-draft, or maybe because I was still obsessively spinning this after the sun went down and I was more or less hoping for a miracle, but the second bobbin was not smooth sailing and things went a little sideways.  Anyway, when I had two bobbins full of singles and after letting them rest overnight, I plied them together and it barberpoled immediately, which, apart from not being what I was aiming for, is completely fine, too.  And really, I'm only aiming for anything specific in the hopes of learning something, not because I need striped yarn in a Harry Potter-based colorway (wait, of course I do...) 
When your finished result looks like this, there's very little to complain about.  Okay, back to the porch.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Still Woolly

I think we go through this every year: as soon as the snow melts, I start moaning about how cold it is and how long it's taking for the [your flower here] to bloom.  In an uncharacteristic moment of wisdom and insight, though, this year I finally realized that Spring Is A Season Too, and sometimes, that means it is chilly.  Newsflash!  So my feet are still cold, and I am still wearing wool socks.  I made these using no kind of pattern, just some sport weight yarn and a colorwork design borrowed from my favorite book on the subject.  The yarn is Plymouth Galway Sport in Turtle Heather and Sand Heather.  They're thick and yummy, and will never fit in my shoes, but that is not what they're for.  
I worked like mad, too, trying to finish my Creative Year Project piece for May before May was over, and it was a squeaker.  May was "Self Portrait", and dang, it's hard trying to fit your whole self into one two-dimensional 6"x6" square of fabric.  I thought about it a lot, and changed my mind a bunch of times, and thought some more, and then finally made this.  My only finished sweater in May, in Koigu KPPPM, an improvised, self-drafted little number using about 5 meters of yarn on US0 needles.  I would totally wear that.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wool hat, summer edition

I finished knitting this hat almost the instant it became summer here in Western New York.  When the clouds part for a change and the hollering wind takes a breather, you can just about sit outdoors with your knitting in your lap.  It makes a girl feel like maybe she has some control over these things.  What if I'd knit faster?  Would the peonies be open by now?  Summer thoughts start to crowd my mind:  as I was sitting down to take this selfie, a teenager with a twangy, away accent knocked on the door to ask if I'd like to have him to paint my barn roof, for a good enough price, and now I feel like I should have hired him.  The barn roof is looking a little ragged, which you can obviously tell as you drive by, and as I'm thinking about it, I don't really want Doc to climb up there and do it.  Missed opportunity.  And now that he's brought it to my attention, it's all I can see, unless I look at the mess that is the raspberry patch, or the weeds in the patio.  My farmer neighbor has commenced to tilling his field again, though to what end I still can't tell.  As far as I can see, he is tilling it recreationally, because this has been going on for years.  He drives back and forth, with that disc cultivator or whatever it's called on the back, and makes his furrows.  He goes across it again, in the other direction.  His topsoil blows with abandon into my kitchen.  Last fall, he worked diagonally, too.  A few stakes appear here and there.  That's it.  Can I just say that I'm hoping for wheat?  I don't know why, other than how beautiful would that be in the golden, dusty evenings?  How utterly prosaic, and how elegiac, a field of rippling wheat?  These are the things that compel me.  Wheat is a pretty crop.  I am choosing to think today about barns and raspberries and golden growing things. While my heart breaks for our world, I turn my face toward the sun.  The hat pattern is here.