Thursday, September 04, 2014

Where Have All the Bloggers Gone? September 2014

Once upon a time, part of my daily ritual was a cup of coffee at 10-ish and time spent with my favorite on-line knitters.  It made sense to check in every day, because pretty much everyone had something new to say. Someone would write something that reminded me of a story or an event or a project I wanted to make and I would be off to the races,  inspired to make my own contribution, to add to the conversation.  Now?  Now I go weeks without checking my blogging roll.

It's been busy here at Chez WoolGathering.  We had company from Across the Atlantic, which meant summer was pretty much non-stop and the place hasn't looked this good since the last time it looked this good. Every cabinet and drawer in the kitchen got cleared out and lined with new shelf liner.  The linen closet, the credenza, the bookshelves -- all gone through. Fibber McGee's Closet no longer lives up to its name. I think Their Father was on a first -name basis with the people at Salvation Army by the time we finished. (Someday I'll write about the bathroom renovation.  Someday I will, by all that's holy, understand why it took a month to take out the old tub, sink and toilet in the front bath and install the new - a whole month.)

It was an astonishing 10 days in August with Our Company and they got to set foot in two states besides ours (Iowa and Indiana) and saw the Mississippi. They've been gone almost a week now and the apartment stills feel empty without them.

The part you're probably interested in though, is the part where I got yarn.  They brought me yarn.  From England.  Beautiful, beautiful merino-silk handspun from the real Worstead (you know, like worsted yarn?)

I've been playing with patterns and projects.   At first glance the yarn may present as tweedy green, plain and simple, but that merino-silk blend has bits of blue and a yellowish, springy green that pop up when you're not looking. It's soft and elegant feeling and I want to knit something that will show off the yarn, not something with a lot of pattern stitches.  I need something simple but classy.  Something that would showcase the yarn. Which led me to Churchmouse Yarns patterns.

As it happens, neither the Before and After Scarf nor the Beaded Mohair Scarf were willing to adapt to handspun.  I thought that the Shoulder Cozy might work. It didn't.

I'll keep searching. I've never knit a cowl for myself.  Maybe it's time to think about that. 

Maybe I should go read a few blogs and see what they're doing.

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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I had such a nice post written.  

It had self-revelation (I don't like surprises. I have control issues).

It had humor (I read the end of the mystery half-way through, and sometimes sooner. I work the mazes in the Sunday papers from the inside out). (That's humor in support of the aforesaid self-revelation)

It had personal growth (I signed up for a mystery knit-along anyway). 

It had rationalization (The knit-along let's you choose your clues, so not all the shawls will be the same; the designer is Ysolda Teague; one of the bloggers I read had already started one).

It had pictures (here's one).

Hmm. I don't remember it looking quite that harsh a red when I took the picture.  Too much Photoshop?

And then I typed the last two words of a really clever closing aphorism, which I can no longer remember but was probably tied to all the preceding clever prose, and Blogger ate it all except for the last word and a half.

Definitely not as easy as Abel Baker Charlie.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Didja Miss Me?

Well. Here I am, back from my self-imposed exile.  You see, there was this article.  Technically it was due mid-October.  I told myself I could finish it and then feed The Blog as a reward.  I just sent the final draft off to the editors last night.  Can I even begin to tell you how much I did not want to write that article? But it's done and gone.  At last reading it sounded to me like I didn't want to write it, but the Princess looked it over and assured me that, as long as it's read by an audience that has never met me, they'll never be able to tell. Not, let me state, the way I wanted to start the New Year.

But. It's done and I'm back and I have been knitting.  Sometimes as an avoidance technique.  Sometimes as therapy. Sometimes in a grimly determined effort to reduce the stash.  The total was impressive.  5 Garter Squish Blankets (free on Ravelry) for Christmas gifts at roughly 12 skeins of worsted per blanket.  4 cowls of the Inspira variety (also free on Ravelry), also for Christmas gifts, at 4 skeins each.  20 little knitted Christmas trees for gifts and the Christmas Market (Not much help reducing the stash; three inch cones on US3 needles pretty much are only good for using up bits and bobs of yarn).  4 Minikins, also for the Christmas Market (Again, not much stash busting; see note on Christmas trees above).  [I mention here a blanket knit by The Princess, as an additional 12 skein stash-bust and because it was my idea (I think).]

Let it also be noted that I finished the original Garter Squish Blanket and the Original Color Affection Shawl.

Most of the pictures, however, are on The Princess' new camera and I am not going to attempt to retrieve them without her around. You'll just have to wait.

Instead, and to keep this post from being a rant, let's go back to that adjective modifying the Color Affection Shawl,  "Original"  implies more than one. If you go to this post, and scroll down, you'll find a photo of the yarn I planned for the Next Color Affection Shawl.  The yarns are Tosh Sock in Byzantine, Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere 4-ply in 68/Burnished Gold and Malabrigo Sock in 811/Eggplant.

Alas, plans were made to go awry.  That gold yarn?  The soft and silky cashmere blend by Jade Sapphire?  Too thin.  Very light fingering weight.  Too light to be compatible with the other yarns. I was sure I had the colors right, so went searching for a sock weight, true fingering yarn in the same greenish-gold family.  You'd be surprised how many golds there are out there that shade to orange. 

I thought I had found it in Dream in Color's Smooshy with Cashmere in Medieval until I wound it up and looked at it next to the Tosh Sock in Byzantine. 

Too close in value, I thought.  Not a problem; I could use the Malabrigo Sock in 800/Tizano Red that I intended to use for wristlets (a less successful past Christmas gift knitting plan, best left buried in oblivion).  Except now that I've finished the first, solid color section of the shawl and am looking at starting the first set of stripes, I'm having second thoughts.  

Red, gold and purplish grey.  Isn't that maybe too mundane a color combination?  What if I end up with an (*gasp*) ordinary shawl? 

I went looking for sock yarn in the stash.  I have more than I realized. Way more. 

Decisions, decisions.  I will keep you posted.