Friday, January 23, 2015

Sabotaging Myself?

I actually can think of a number of other things to title this post.  "What Was I Thinking?" would be one.  "Why Do I Do These Things To Myself?" was another.  "Insanity" was yet another.  All would have been appropriate, they just wouldn't all fit in the title box together.

I've joined another Mystery Knit-along.  Let's review my  history with MKALs, shall we?  In the gaps in last year's blogging, I failed to mention that I have fallen for been suckered into joined several such things.

Failure #1 -
About this time last year I decided to try Ysolda's first MKAL, the Follow Your Arrow Shawl.  That didn't end well.  Keeping up was not a problem.  I tried to make sure I would like the ultimate result by waiting for others to post spoilers of the clues so I could choose the one I liked best.  I even added it to my Ravelry projects. No go.  I think I made it through clue 3. Maybe clue 4.  Then I faced the music, 'fessed up, and admitted I hated it.  It was a sad waste of some fabulous (and now discontinued) fingering weight yarn.  I listed it as frogged on Ravelry, but it is in fact, still on the needles.  I'm toying with the idea of binding it off and calling it a scarf.  Once I've lost all my other scarves, I'll probably (maybe?) be glad to have it.

Failure #2-
It took me until this past Fall before I let myself try another.  This one was Kaffe Fassett's for Rowan Yarns.  My arguments to join were much the same as the ones I used to talk myself into Follow Your Arrow, starting with how much I liked and admired the work of the designer involved.  Plus, this was Rowan.  It was a blanket and I love knitting blankets.  The knitting here was simple, a series of striped squares knit on the bias, because the focus would be on how to use color and I am weak at combining colors.  I didn't even pretend I would keep up this time, but figured I would be so glad to have the pattern and the notes and did I mention that Rowan had Kaffe do a series of YouTube videos on the project? The problems started when people stared posting photos of their squares in various combinations.  They all made my eyes hurt.  When we got to the final clue and it confirmed that the most painful possible combinations were the ones we were supposed to use I lost it. They were like optical illusions, or Pop Art where all the lines fly off in different directions and nothing makes any sense.  I like my blankets to make sense.  So now I have a huge collection of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted Super-wash, in a lot of colors I will never use again. 

Failure #3-
I only got as far as buying the pattern this time. Well, that and the yarn (Malabrigo Mechas in Pocion).

Had I read the notes on the group MKAL page, I would have known the project was a poncho and I do not do ponchos.  But it was, again, a designer I really like (Laura Aylor, she of Lizard Ridge Blanket and Faberge Shawl fame)(I begin to see a pattern here) and it was the end of the year and the end of the year had been pretty sucky, so when offered a MKAL  called "Just For You" what was I supposed to do?

Which bring us up to this year, and what have I gone and done?  Signed up for Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow 2 Mystery Knit-along. Only the first clue has been released, and I've finished it already.  But, and here's a big but, much as I like the short-row shaping, this clue calls for a picot edge.  Have I ever mentioned how much I despise picot edges?  It's a chicken and egg thing.  Do I hate them because I'm bad at them, or am I bad at them because I really, really, really hate them? 

Why did this take me by surprise?  What did I think it was going to be when I had to bind off two stitches at the start of every row?  Or when the designer stated that the garter tab would be 118 rows long and I would have 59 "points" when I had finished it?

Isn't one of the definitions of insanity to do the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


For every action 

 there is an equal and opposite


Newton's Third Law.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Finding Inspiration

I really thought I'd have this sorted by now. I think I'm a person with reasonably good taste. I like to knit.  I like to knit with pretty yarn.  I have lots of pretty yarn.  And yet.

I've given up on the Mrs. Crosby shawl.

In fairness, I should mention that the yarn is superwash worsted with a very - firm  - twist.  Springy doesn't begin to describe it.  While I may have been unduly harsh in my previous assessment, I'm still not enjoying it.  I think it's the pink.  Technically "Vintage Port".  The more I knit with it, the less I want to.

So I switched over to the regular Lorna's Laces.  The original Heart Shaped Shawl is done in neutrals.  Even the green used for the contrast is muted.  Heaven knows, the LL Ravinia is muted.  It is also variegated.  I thought I'd try using it for the single garter stitch ridges as well as for the yo/k2tog rows (the Winter Wheat and the Vintage Port sections in the above shawl) and use (can you see the train-wreck about to happen here?) the Manzanita (yes, the pink) for the contrast band. 

Strangely, I like the pink in the Shepherd's Worsted, just not in this shawl.  Or perhaps just not with this color.   Or perhaps just not in combination with anything else.

I don't think I was distraught about this development.  Yet, the Princess felt the need to take pity on me, or at least to offer up her own stash of Lorna's Laces.  I was thinking about switching out the Manzanita and using the cranberry instead.  

Then I came across this phrase in the novel I'm reading "Dawn over the marshes was grey and gold, a severe winter beauty all it's own."  And a few paragraphs further on, "The vast expanse of water gleamed like steel."


So maybe I should be substituting the Cedar (marshes)?  Or the Pewter (metal)?

Or maybe I just want to knit another one, using Pewter and Denim with the Ravinia.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Even My Changes Come Out the Same

This all started with this latest Midwest cold snap. I decided enough with the fingering weight shawlette/scarflet/shoulder-cozy thing. I want a big worsted weight shawl and nothing in the stash was inspiring me. Which is sort of ridiculous, because, even continuing to ignore the long-neglected Fenna shawl (Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester anyone?), I have three skeins of Madelintosh in Tart, which has to be the best red out there and when do I ever not want to knit with red yarn? You'd think either would galvanize my knitting, but not so. I decided I needed to step out of my comfort zone. Try something new. Be brave. Be daring. So how did I end up with these two extremely unexciting sets of skeins?

That there on the left is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Ravinia and Manzanita. I'm not terribly fond of golds and beiges. And yet for my first foray off my beaten track, I bought yarn that's gold and shades of beige. I'm not sure that it's being called "Ravinia" is enough of an excuse. What was I thinking? I decided it needed something to liven it up. Something that would make me look forward to reaching the end of the third skein (yes, there is a third skein). Hence the Manzanita.

I don't knit pink. Yet I decided that the Ravinia had some pink undertones and that perhaps the Manzanita would bring them out, lifting the whole thing up into something warm and cheerful (recall that cheerful was one of my criteria for new knitting.) It may work out, but I had my doubts.

I set the project aside and looked for new inspiration, in other words, I went back to internet yarn shopping.

This latest foray led me to Mrs. Crosby. I've been reading the praises of Mrs. Crosby. It's one of the current Power Boost yarns at Eat.Sleep.Knit. Which means I get extra yardage credit in my Yarnathon account. Ordinarily, extra Yarnathon points are not enough to make me buy a particular yarn. Apparently, this winter isn't ordinary, because here I am, stuck with more beige-gold and more pink. Worse, it's purplish pink. Then there's the green -- which I do like quite a bit -- sticking out like a sore thumb. 

I actually started a project with this set, and I don't even despise the way they're knitting up.  I love the pattern.  It's Brian Smith's (a.k.a. "ravelryguy") Heart-shaped Shawl.

I hate the yarn.  It's like knitting with kitchen string.  Not, note, kitchen or dishcloth cotton.  Kitchen string.  What you would find in the housewares section of the grocery store. Coarse, hard, and ungiving.

Maybe I should try it with the Lorna's Laces?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Testing, testing

Good heavens.  How did it get to be Thursday already? And me with no real knitting progress ready.

It's been a week of experimental knitting.  I did not, in fact, sew in all the ends of the Cornerstone Blanket, although I managed a few.  I was met with the disheartening find that our two rescues, Zoe an Remy, are very fond of that blanket.  Very fond indeed.  It's covered in pulled stitches where they've kneaded it into the proper texture for napping.  Worse, some of their nap-prep has been so enthusiastic that they've broken the yarn and unraveled parts of the squares. I know this can be fixed with Kitchener-ing, but that is not the type of knitting I was looking for when I last posted.

Instead I picked up the Lord Protector's "Always Winter" blanket and did spent some time with it. The, not bad news exactly, but news-that-makes-me-disinclined-to-work-on-that-project is that I passed the last green stripe he was willing to allow, so from now on it's all navy and gray all the time.  

Also not the type of knitting I was looking for.

Not mentioned before, but in progress from mid-December until last night was a Quaker Yarn Stretcher Shawl by Susan Ashcroft. It starts at one end with just a few stitches and increases across one edge, which is what makes it curve.  I bought Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend in Stellar specifically for this project. Yes, Stellar is variegated, but I was convinced the construction would keep the yarn from pooling, and that where it did, the garter stitch sections would distract the eye from it. 

I was wrong.  I still like the construction technique, and will probably scrounge through the stash for a semi-solid option, but not today.  The Stellar will probably get set aside for another Color Affection.  I've been curious about how one would work up in a heavier weight yarn.  I have a fair bit of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Cape Cod Grey (a nice silvery grey), but no third color. 

I spent a lot of time last night internet shopping for possibilities, but came up empty. Else I would start that.

I want something pretty. Something cheery. Something not dark. I've even done some secret stash accumulation in pursuit of these goals.  Okay, not so secret, the yarn is spread out across the dining room table.  I'm just not sure those additions fill the bill either. I expect the plan today should be to experiment with them and let you know tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Now What?

This happens to me sometimes. I don't know what to knit. Having succumbed to knitting on a deadline for Christmas, which means I am pretty much never not knitting, my hands aren't happy when they're still.  In a confusing and confounding turn of events, all that mandatory knitting - where I went, head down and unthinking, from one project to the next to the next - has dulled my brain and now I can't think what I want.

Winter has gotten here, so large quantities of wool seem sensible. The Lord Protector's Blanket seems the logical choice.  He would probably be pleased if I had it finished in time to take back to university. It does require paying attention, though, and while we are finally almost virus free, so I feel that any project is possible, I'm not sure I want knitting I have to think about.  (Did I mention we fell like dominoes, one after the other, to the flu?  Silly question, of course I haven't.  But for the first time in over thirty years we spent Christmas Eve at home.  I would have been sad, except we were all so worn out that when My Knitting Sister called to say they, too had succumbed, and would not be having us all over, it felt like the best gift ever).

Stash shopping has left me singularly uninspired.  So, unexpectedly, has trolling Ravelry.  I want something soft and colorful and requiring a lap-full of wool, which actually gives me an idea.

Back last summer I really did knit a Cornerstone Blanket.  It was kind of a guilt gift - something I planned to use to get out of an event there really was no escaping. I argued that if the gift was spectacular enough, I wouldn't actually need to show up.  I lost that argument and went to the event (sigh), but then decided I got to keep the blanket.  Duty done deserved a reward, even if I gave it to myself.

Once the pressure was off, however, I decided to ignore the back of the blanket where all those ends live.  Four mitered squares per section times six sections, plus two background ends per six sections work out to a lot of ends.

I do believe I'll sit in my chair with BBC's Earthflight and a needle, and weave, and figure out what I want to knit next.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

International Delurking Week

It used to happen the first full week of January, back when blogging was all the rage and all the cool kids were doing it. Given my bad performance as a blogger this past year (these past years?), I was going to skip de-lurking week (again).  After all, blogging has become pretty much moribund. Besides, it is hard to ask anyone to de-lurk when there's been nothing to lurk for. Then I found this old badge and it made me laugh, so I decided to use it and celebrate the fact that, despite the long absence, I am still a blogger of the old-school variety.

Anybody still out there?

Monday, January 05, 2015

Let us welcome the New Year

Full of things that have never been. (Rainier Marie Rilke).

I've been thinking of all the knitting I've done since May, and all the knitting that I didn't write about before that. There's rather a lot. To begin with, all that Christmas knitting from last year that got mentioned but not really documented: those 6 (7? 8?) Garter Squish blankets (thank you, Stephen West) (here's one):

the 6 Inspira cowls, only one of which got its story told, and which in turn grew into two more this Christmas;

the Lord Protector's Blanket, the one that was like knitting a winter night for thousands of stitches and how he consented to add a little green to it. At least that last story is still ongoing.

I went looking into my blog drafts, and I didn't even start the stories of the Cornerstone Blanket, or the 5 Churchmouse Shoulder Cozies, or the newest Before and After Scarf (also Churchmouse), or the exciting (not) forays into bulky yarn that I did for the local Christmas Market this year, or how, after vowing to not fall down the slippery slope of Christmas gift knitting again, I ended up knitting 4 Piega Cowls, all because My Knitting Sister showed me one of the ones she was working on at Thanksgiving, which made me decide I really needed one, which knit up so fast that half-way through I decided to knit some for Their Father's mother and sisters, and then one for my Mom, all of which means that it's frigging freezing here in the Midwest and my Piega languishes half-done.

Just to keep the log complete - I frogged the Follow Your Arrow Shawl (Ysolda's Mystery Knit-Along from last January). Completed the copy of my Color Affection Shawl in February. I knit the HPKY Rome Bias Shawl (birthday yarn, March 2014). Finished the Green Sweater I didn't have ready for last St. Patrick's Day.

For a lot of this most recent knitting, I don't even have pictures(how did I let that happen?). In fact, except for three or four entries for National Poetry Month (April) which I never seem to remember to post, or worry myself into copyright issues over, the last entry I started was the story of our Company from across the Atlantic and the only one before that was on the death of Maya Angelou, which, admittedly, had nothing to do with knitting, but this is my journal and if I want to deviate from the stated topic, I can. Still, I never published it. I never even wrote about Stitches and how I didn't take a single class - nope, not one.

Let's face it, 2014 was a hard year. Truth be told, at midnight, January 1, I couldn't pull that old kitchen calendar off the wall fast enough. So. New Year. New Journal. New Knitting (see what I got for Christmas this year?).

Okay, maybe some picture posts of old knitting to help me keep straight what I did and why. And maybe I'll go ahead and publish those two drafts, once I find a picture or two.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cowl in the Afternoon

It could be said that my knitting tends toward the staid and conservative.  Which may be why the Eldest Niece gifted me (well, actually all of us Stitches types) with this for our party bags last August. 

That's another story, except for the part where it inspired me to try something different.

See this?  

This is Mountain Colors Moguls.  It has been sitting in my stash for longer than I care to remember.  It arrived with my second abortive attempt at an Ab-Fab blanket. It was supposed to fill the slot held by the Colinette Zanziba.  I'm actually attempting another one and was convinced that the Moguls would be perfect.  I was wrong.  While the yarn looked anything but maroon in the skein, context is everything.  Sandwiched between layers of Colinette mohair in Tapis, it presented as red. Not what I thought it would do.

So here I am, stuck with this incredibly active yarn and no place to put it.  It's years and years old and, even if I could convince my over-active conscience to return it, I have no idea where it came from anymore.

What to do? What to do?  It's only 65 yards per skein. And it's busy.  

I went looking at and for cowls. Cowls must be boring to knit, because pretty much everyone introduces some type of stitch pattern or design element.  With everything that's going on with this yarn -- Mountain Colors describes it as lumpy and bumpy; I would like to add that it's also curly, thick and thin and variegated -- the last thing it needs is a cable. Or Kitchener stitch.

I gave up and invented my own.  The most basic, unimaginative, ordinary knitting I could think of.  Ribbing for the top and bottom borders and stockinette for the body.  Anything more and my knitting would cross the border into Art and I hate knitting that is Art.

I have two more skeins of this in Pheasant (very similar colorway, minus the orange and yellow).  Lest its very simplicity renders it un-rememberable, I'm recording what I'm pretty sure I did.

Recipe for a Cowl in the Afternoon:

2 skeins Mountain Colors Moguls ( this is Sunburst).

Needles Addi Turbo 24" circulars. US 15 (a.k.a. big honking needles).

Cast on 56 stitches (or whatever multiple of 4 will get you the diameter you want).

K2P2 for 1 round.

Join to knit in the round and place a marker to mark the beginning of the round. (Careful not to twist, which is much easier when you've done a row of knitting (thank you to Graphica of Inspira Cowl fame.).) (Can one nest parentheses like that?  Must check my Chicago Manual of Style someday.)

K2P2 for 2 more rounds.

Knit (and knit and knit and knit) to the end of the skein

Count your rounds so you'll know when to stop knitting the second skein and start K2P2 ribbing (I think I had 26, counting the 3 rounds of ribbing).

Spit splice skein 2 (unless you really want to weave in those two extra ends).

Knit (and knit and knit and knit).

Count rounds until you have the same number as the first skein, less the three for the ribbing.

K2P2 for 3 rounds

Bind off (I used Jenny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off).

Weave in the two ends (start and finish).

Here's the kicker. Turn it inside out, which emphasizes the funky element, but avoids Art.

Call it done.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You Say It's Your Birthday

It was. And it was just delightful.  For one thing - it went on for days. The Lord Protector came home for the weekend so we celebrated Saturday and Sunday. Homemade cake courtesy of the Princess (vanilla cake with strawberry frosting, although we told the Pirate it was only pink,: it seems Pirates don't believe in strawberry anything) and presents on Sunday evening.  Very cool stuff, but for the purposes of a knitting blog, just this.

Hand Painted Knitting Yarns Rome Bias Shawl  kit in the red/black colorway (birthdays are a tried and true excuse reason to not have to augment the stash).  I can never get red to come out right.  You'll have to take my word that there are actually two shades there - one a deeper red, shading toward burgundy and the other a brighter, more stop-sign red.

Then, as if that wasn't enough, 

exquisite tiny little cupcakes from Sugar Bliss on the Day itself.  There were more. They just didn't last long enough to get in the picture.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Manque

Which is why I didn't have a green sweater to wear on March 17.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Hot. Cool. Yours.

Let's get this out of the way first. The problem with the FYA shawl was that I miscounted/added an extra stitch/forgot a stitch/whatever in the first few stitches on the first row of Clue 3. The way the pattern is written, you start the chart over at each stitch marker, and I managed to read it/knit it/whatever it correctly the next two times. Which is how it was wrong in one place and right in another.  Since, however, I messed up within the first few stitches of the very first row, I had to frog all the way back to the beginning of the clue. I was not happy about this. In fact, I ragged on it so long and so hard to The Princess that, once I had made the correction, I managed to knit back on the wrong side row instead of purl back. We will draw a curtain here, now that I've successfully knit Clue 3. 

One could argue that, until Clue 5 is actually released, I am now on schedule. I have a chance to finish Clue 4 before Clue 5 (the final clue) is released on Monday.

I have other plans.

I'm not joining the Ravellenics. Technically. I'm not on any team. I haven't tagged any project. I missed the cast-on moment by hours and hours. However. The Lord Protector is still waiting for his college blanket. We have gone back and forth on patterns for a while. I was going to try to knit intarsia cables on a Knitspot pattern until I counted the number of bobbins of yarn I would have to juggle to achieve the width he wanted. Thirteen. I pondered knitting it in panels, and then remembered how good I am about assembling blankets that are knit in pieces. Over break, we found another pattern: the Walt Painted Chevron Baby Blanket. Okay, so it's written as a baby blanket and there was MATH, but it was pretty straightforward MATH and I did it.

Then we looked at the yarn and compared it with THE MATH and concluded it wasn't going to make it.  The yarn we'd planned is from the stash.  Very old Sweet Georgia Yarns Superwash in Nightshade and Silver. Sweet Georgia Yarns is not always consistent within dye-lots (it is hand-dyed after all).  At this late date we figured there was no way we could match what I already had.  We are clever and creative people, however, and when scanning Ravelry projects, we noted that the blankets, by and large, use three colors. I tried, really I did, to persuade the Lord Protector to add some color to this blanket.  A nice, deep, wine, red perhaps.  Maybe an old, antique gold.  Or a profound forest green. He chose another, darker gray.

Those who live in most of the Lower 48, have you looked out the window?  Do you know what is heading our way?  Do you realize what it will be like to knit navy, gray and darker gray in February in Chicago? I'll tell you what it will be like.  It will be like knitting a perpetual winter twilight, that's what it will be like.

I call that a challenge of truly Olympic proportions.

I have, therefore, built in a respite.  Sort of like those moments between events when the commentators drone on and on and the only purpose for them is to break up the main action.  In a flattering turn of events, someone admired my Color Affection Shawl so much, she asked, if she bought the yarn, if I would make her one, "just like mine."  I knit mine in Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply.  Miss Babs has been out of stock on the Flaxen and the Navy for a while, but since mine included a one-of-a-kind colorway, I wouldn't be able to duplicate it anyway. Besides, that would be boring. I think this will get close enough.

It's Shalimar Yarns Breathless in Oyster, Cephalopod Yarns Bugga in Frog Legged Leaf Beetle and Fleece Artist Merino 2/6  in Polar Sea.  I do believe that when the dim and dark of the Lord Protector's blanket begins to overwhelm, this project should restore me.


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Oh, Just Arrgh!

And I'm not talking like a pirate; I'm frustrated.  I'm a better knitter than this. I really am.  I just can't seem to keep my mind on this Follow Your Arrow thing. 

Case in point.See this?

It's supposed to look like this.

This is the third time I've done something that has to be ripped out.  Admittedly, the first two weren't documented, but I didn't know then that they were part of a trend.  For the record, the first mistake was at the garter stitch band near the top.  I knit it in stockinette instead and didn't notice until I was ready to start the garter stitch/lace section. I was not happy, but it was early in the project and not a lot of stitches were involved.  I debated calling it a design element, but decided against it.  Riiiiiip.

The second one was minor.  On the last right side row of the weird asymmetrical part, I apparently slept and skipped the last two yo increases. I didn't find the mistake until I knit the first row of Clue 3A.  By then I had over 200 stitches on my needle, but still, that was pretty quick and while the yarn had re-arranged itself so I couldn't fake the yarn overs by just pulling up the bar between the stitches, it wasn't all that much.  Riiiiiip.

This one, though.  This one really anoys me.  I had hopes of being at least close to on track before Clue 4 came out. Note that I have a flexible notion of what it means to be on track.  Halfway through the previous week's clue would have counted. Now it's Wednesday of Clue 4 Week and I'm back at the end of Clue 2.  Now? 

Well, now?  Oh, just arrrgh!

Friday, January 31, 2014

More Mystery

I've made some progress on the shawl and I'm not so mad at Blogger anymore, so let me write a bit more about this whole mystery knit-along thing. It's a little tricky and perhaps annoying, since there are a lot of references to the knit-along which might seem to require spending significant time on the group spoiler threads. Tough. Sorry. 

First, some technical elements, lest I forget. The yarn is Fiberphile Super Squish Sock, a merino fingering yarn, in Rose Gold. (It breaks my heart a little bit that Fiberphile is no longer in existence. I got this during their brief stay at Eat.Sleep.Knit. and was waiting, wishing and hoping for a restock in worsted weight).

The needles are Addi Turbos in Us6/4 mm.

The MKAL is Ysolda Teague's Follow Your Arrow Mystery Shawl Knit-along.

I chose the B version of Clue one.

I have some serious catching up to do.  Clue Three was released on Monday.  Clue Four is due out in four days.  I haven't even finished 1B.

Keeping in mind the confession in yesterday's post about cheating on mazes and mystery novels, I'm sure it's not a surprise that I've been haunting the spoiler threads on Ravelry. I can't afford to make a wrong choice here. 

I was all set to go right into 2A, which is fairly conventional lace construction, except I don't like the way the two patterns meet - it's disharmonious. Which leaves me with the odd, asymmetric, unconventional garter-stitch wedge option. I think I'm feeling odd and asymmetrical. Also, with yet another Winter Storm Watch in effect, possibly a little cranky, cabin-fevered and judgement-impaired. 

In 2B there's a little stockinette detailing. Maybe I'll get really bold and daring and, even though my intent was to knit a solid color shawl, throw in a little contrast yarn. I still have some Miss Babs Deep Sea Jellyfish left over from the Color Affection Shawl.

Let's see what happens.