Saturday, January 31, 2015

I'll Do Better Next Week

Ack! How did it get to be the end of the week? Time to finally post that September entry about Summer.

I really will do better next week. After all, I've never told you about the pumpkins.

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.