Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Coming Up Short

After serious and deep consultation with the Princess, we decided to go with the Silver, Kansas and Provence combination.  Some good knitting fairy prompted me to weigh the skein of Silver that was already wound.

That is not a full skein of yarn.  I'd forgotten I'd used it, along with some scraps of Provence, for my Stitches Midwest class with Franklin Habit two years ago.

We went back to the drawing board, or in this case the dining room table, and started playing with colors again.  None of them worked as well together as the original three.  I did not, however, want to buy another skein of yarn when all I needed was 30 grams. 

We did some serious stash searching. We dug through my stash, her secret stash, odd corners and old knitting bags. Nothing. At which point the Princess got inspired.  She has a grey sweater, not a hand-knit, that came with a belt she never wears.

 It looked darn close to me, even in the bad winter light of a February afternoon.

Raveled, it looks pretty close to worsted weight.  I've wound it around the backs of a couple of chairs, wet it down to get the kinks out, and started knitting the Silver.  Of course, now I'm knitting dark blue and gray in the middle of winter again, but I have yellow and red to look forward to.

I feel so proud, Eco-friendly and frugal.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What I Know

Because I never posted about these and because now, more than a year later, I can't remember all the details. 

I know all the yarn was superwash wool - because these were gifts and I don't give non-knitting people huge swaths of wool that they can't wash if, say, a bottle of orange pop overturns while one is wrapped up in a hand-knit afghan during a particularly exciting episode of Dr. Who.

I know the pattern is Stephen West's Garter Squish Blanket from Ravelry.  The pattern calls for US 15/10 mm needles, and while I can't put my hand on any right now, I know I had them to knit the pumpkins, and I know that when looking at the Original Garter Squish that I thought the gauge was too loose, which is why I'm knitting the new one on US 13/ 9 mm.  So we'll call the needles Addi Turbos, US 15.

I know the yarn was Lorna's Laces, Dream in Color and Squoosh Fiberarts.  In fact, the one color I am absolutely sure of is the red. It's the Squoosh Superwash and the color name is Velvet. I think.  I'm pretty sure the gold, the navy and the pink-ish peach are Lorna's Laces.  And I think they are Harvest, Cookie A's Deep Dark Secret and Brick, respectively. I know I recognize China Apple and the green version of Cloud Jungle and I think that brown must be November Muse, all from Dream in Color and the really dark whatever just might be DIC Black Parade. I just don't think I can sort them all out.

I know I knit three more of these, but never took pictures.  I really wasn't thinking like a blogger back then was I?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

We're Having Weather Here

It's cold here. It's been cold here. It is going to continue to be cold here. As we approached record-setting low temperatures last night, The Princess and I were noting how useful wool blankets are. In fact, it occurred to us that a couple more couldn't hurt.

I went stash diving today. Turns out I have 8 skeins of Cascade 220 in 9336 Lapis. I also have two skeins each of 2437 Kansas, 2425 Provence, 2448 Mallard, 8400 Charcoal, 8401 Silver Heather, 7818 Blue Velvet, 9326 Colonial Blue Heather and a grey-ish green that I think is either 4011 Sparrow or 2446 Bronzed Green.

I feel a Garter Squish coming on.  I'm thinking I'll double-strand like colors on this one and make a seven stripe, that way I'll have Lapis on each end.

That leaves me with only one decision.


Or neutrals?

Either way, I'll end up with a lapful of wool.  Which, in this Artic environment, is a most desirable condition.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


In the Seven Per Cent Solution, there's a Sondheim song called "The Madam's Song". It has a line, "I Never Do Anything Twice." Once I would have said that line was the theme of my knitting life.  Then came last Christmas with the Garter Squish Blankets and the Inspira Cowls (neither of which ever got their whole story - must do something about that).

This year, though in addition to two more Inspira Cowls (knit at the request on those who had not gotten one last year) I discovered the Piega Cowl.  At Thanksgiving dinner my Knitting Sister showed me the ones she was knitting for her girls ( She knit hers in Malabrigo Silky Merino - I think - and I can't remember if she used Silk cloud or if she went with Kidsilk Haze.) Anyway. It's a Shibui Knits design, and so the pattern calls for Shibui Baby Alpaca and Silk Cloud double stranded. My problem was the color options in the Baby Alpaca didn't sing for me.  Truth be told, I thought they were a little washed out looking.

I used Fibre Company Acadia instead of the Baby Alpaca for this set.  There are actually two more, one in Fibre Company Acadia Poppy and Cascade Kid Seta Syrah, but I never took pictures of it.  The other is mine, still Fiber Company Acadia, but with Kidsilk Haze.  Mine was the original and it's still not finished.

The construction was quite clever. Two stockinette rectangles with holes that you join and braid with a series of three needle bind-offs.

Blocking makes a difference.

Top to bottom, that's Acadia in Blue Heron with Silk Cloud Fjord. Then Acadia in Egret with Ivory Silk Cloud and on the bottom, Acadia in Bog (I know, awful, muddy name fore such a pretty color) and Silk Cloud in Fog. (Special thanks to Veronica for modeling)

So soft, shiny and pretty.  So clearly worth repeating.  Maybe I'll go finish mine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Rose by Any Other Name

I'm not convinced that Rage is a good name for this yarn. Yes, it's red over-dyed with black. Okay sure, I get it.  Yet, it is the most un-enraging red over-dyed with black you could imagine. Maybe it's the cashmere. Maybe it's the fact that I really like red.  Maybe it's that the knitting did its work by the end of the first skein.  Whatever it is, I really like this yarn.  I look forward to knitting with it.  I put aside all sorts of other things I thought I wanted before winter is over.*

This is a center out rectangular blanket. It started out with the Turkish cast-on.

Well, it started out with a little math and a WAG about what my gauge might be. I decided an 18 inch difference between the length and the width would be good.  I decided I'd probably knit pretty close to the recommended gauge, if I used a larger needle, multiplied my expected gauge by 18 inches and cast on that many stitches.  I say cast on. All you do is wind the yarn around two circular needles. You pull the bottom one so the stitches are wrapped around one needle and the cord, kit across those stitches, pull the top needle through and the bottom needle into the stitches and knit what are effectively the same stitches, just the bottom of them.  Trust me.  It works.  Most often for toe-up socks that you don't want a seam for, but just fine for center out blankets when you don't want a square one.

The tricky part was going to be the increase.  Generally, and this is the method recommended in Circular Knitting Workshop, you mark the first and last stitch on each needle for your corners, then build the blanket using yarn-overs on either side of that stitch.  I did that for the HPKY Navy Blanket and was never really happy with it. I'm also lazy, and I lose track of whether I'm doing a right or left leaning increase, and where and when and why I'm supposed to do them. I wanted something easy, in keeping with the simple, straightforward knitting I was planning.

More math.  Also maybe some very basic sketches. Also maybe some consultation with The Princess.

I set up my markers, but did KFB on either side of them.  Interestingly, I still seem to get a spine stitch.  It's actually the KF of the second KFB.

It seems to be working.  I'm almost to the end of the second skein, though, and now I need to make a decision.  Do I want to keep churning out the stockinette, or do I search out a pattern stitch and start alternating stitch patterns with every new skein?  If I go with all stockinette all the time, do I want to end the blanket with a broad garter stitch border, or something a little fancier?

Who knew knitting rage would be such fun?

* Partial list: Piega cowl out of The Fibre company Acadia and Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Color Affection in Malabrigo Silky Merino and Manos Silk Blend, To Eyre with Fleece Artist River in Raven.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


This is really a Stitches story. It's also a sisters story. And possibly one about how willing I am to follow along like a sheep in the wake of the stronger personality.

It might have been Stitches Midwest 2011, but I only think that because that was the first year I didn't write about Stitches.

Whatever year it was, Yarn Mountain  came to Stitches Midwest that year.  I noticed the knitted pumpkins in their booth right away.  I kept walking by and thinking how cool they were.  But the yarn was huge - roving wrapped with a thin nylon strand.  The yarn and the thought of the size needles I would need to knit it, between them, talked me out of it. Repeatedly. Then I walked into the booth with MySister.  MySister was also charmed with the pumpkins.  So charmed, that she bought a couple skeins of pumpkin-appropriate color yarns, and one purple and green combination that looked like Frankenstein's Monster to me. But she was planning one for each of her girls, and any girls there got to pick their own yarn.  I'm not quite sure how it happend, but I left the booth with three skeins of the yarn myself and the link for the pattern.

Then I somehow ended up with a set of US 15 circulars from the HiyaHiya booth.

And then I got home and stared at my purchases and wondered where my brain had gone during Stitches.

The needles got buried.  The yarn eventually worked it's way down to the bottom of the stash.  MySister knit her pumpkins. They came out fantastic (she even figured out a pattern for leaves). But mine stayed theoretical and I was happy to have it so.

Until this past fall.  I don't know why I decided I needed these this year, but I did. The construction is really quite clever.  You divide the skein in half and alternate skeins in the same row to make the lobes.  The inside looks like a spider web.

They need to be stuffed.  I got all green and ecological and used plastic grocery store bags.

The pumpkins are different sizes based on the number of bags I crammed into each section.


Yarn: Kraemer Yarns Bear Creek in (counterclockwise from the left) Peach Cobbler, Spice and Pumpkin.
Needles: HiyaHiya circulars and ChiaGoo bamboo DPNs in US 15/10mm (ouch!).
Pattern: Bear Creek Pumpkin by Clara Masessa for Kraemer Yarns (scroll down to Miscellaneous, it's free!)

For the record, these were every bit as much not fun to knit as I expected them to be.  On the plus side, the misery doesn't last long. And now I have these cool knitted pumpkins that can come out for Halloween and stay out through Thanksgiving.

So there you go. Pumpkins

Monday, February 02, 2015

Knitting Rage

Long, long ago, I bought a super-wash merino/cashmere worsted blend by a small company called "Have You Any Wool"  (aka as knitmommy on Etsy) from Eat.Sleep.Knit in a colorway called Rage.  I like red and it looked like a good one.  As it happens, it's more of a strong red over-dyed with black. 

I've had this for at least 4 years (knitmommy went on hiatus in 2011 and hasn't been back that I can find). Over those years, I would pull the yarn out for whatever project I was contemplating, and put it back. Every time. I began to realize I was superstitious about the yarn.  After all, did I really want a sweater or shawl filled with Rage?  How could I bear to wear it? Why would I ever want to knit such a thing?  Who wants to knit in a rage?  Think of what it would do to your gauge.

It's been a tense time here at Chez WoolGathering.  It's political, in the sense that you put a group of people together and you get politics, and affects, not so much work I enjoy, as work I do in support of work I love. It's nothing that has anything to do with knitting or the Blog, or most of life for that matter, except that it's sucking time and joy like a sump pump and I resent it.

I'm a great believer in knitting to overcome the garbage that life can hand out, but I was finding myself hating everything I started as I try to deal with this stuff.

Saturday evening, I got an idea.

It was time to knit Rage.  A lot of it, since I have way more than those three skeins (I bought the whole dye-lot). No more soft silvers.  No more warm golds.  No more calm blues. I will knit through Rage and come out the other side in a better place.

It's going to be a blanket and it's going to be cathartic, by Harry, or I'll know the reason why. 

Well, the stash-busting part isn't to be sneezed at, either.