Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WIP: Cabot, and a Book Update


I really don't need another hat. I have plenty of hats. I have tons of hats that I love, and I spend way too much time in winter trying to decide what hat to wear any given day.

Apparently none of that means anything. I love everything about this pattern-I love the little triangles, I love how easy it is to knit (and how hard it is to stop once you get going!), and I absolutely love the yarn I'm using. It's so soft, so warm, so light. It's delicious.

I really wanted to share this with you guys before it's done-and it's really been flying off the needles! I guess I've just been in a productive mood the last few days, because I'm also gaining ground in my 2015 Reading Challenge-I'm only 10 books behind schedule now! I finally finished Villette, which I enjoyed more in the second half. I'm taking a break from Bronte now to read some Wodehouse while I try and decide which Bronte novel to read next.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Solar Experiment


Happy Monday, my pretties, and I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. I got practically nothing on my to-do list done, but my weekend was still full with awesome things. Yesterday I started a little solar natural dyeing experiment. I've been thinking of what kind of different things I'd like to try out this summer, and solar and natural dyeing is definitely one of them. We'll see how this one turns out-the jars aren't as big as I thought they were, so I'll need to get some bigger ones before I do too much more of this-these are both only 50g skeins, and I'd like to do a lot more dyeing this summer.

I also finished my Battleship tank! It's a good length, a great fit, and I have just 4g of yarn left over. It's blocking now, and I'd like to get pictures soon, but I might have to wait on those. I recently had some moles removed-nothing serious, just weird ones-and I noticed that I've ruined some tops with Vaseline that leaked through the bandages. So I'm not going to be wearing any new tops until I'm all healed up and not leaking Vaseline on anything.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tank Girl


Is it just me, or has this week been dragging? It just feels so slow. But the weekend is almost here now, and the Battleship tank is still trucking along! I am a little nervous about the length of this top-I like my tops a little longer, which usually isn't too much of an issue, since I'm on the short end of average. But I started this project with way less yarn than recommended, and it's going to be a tight finish to see if my modifications were enough to stretch what I have. Sorry for the awkward mirror selfie, but as you can see, the top is definitely fitting much better, and is in good shape to get completed this weekend.

Over in book land, I've been on a bit of a poetry kick this week. I reread Fern Hill, Crossing the Water, The Spirit Level, and Thomas and Beulah, all in two nights! I definitely don't recommend reading poetry quickly for the first time, but I've read all these so many times that I really just wanted to revisit the sounds of the words. I'm trying to decide if I'm emotionally ready to commit to A Feast for Crows yet, but I think I'm going to wait a little longer.

And in totally unrelated news, our tulips are finally up:


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Something New

I'm trying something new.

That's the great thing about knitting-there's always something new. And when you've mastered everything there is to know, there's someone even cleverer than you that's come up with something new, or just different, and you can go learn that too.

I've been knitting socks since I started knitting. When I started knitting, back in college, I knit three washcloths, then cast on a pair of socks. I've knit quite a few pairs since then, and they've pretty much all been knit from the cuff down on DPNs.

I did try, eventually, to knit from the toe up on DPNs. That didn't work out so well, but I still plan on trying again. Eventually.

I also am not a huge fan of magic loop-I can do it, and I do it fine, but I generally prefer not to. I just prefer DPNs, or a 16-inch circular. They're comfortable, familiar.

Keeping all of this in mind, I saw a sock pattern that I knew my mum would love. It's cabley and pretty, and I have the most perfect heathered pink yarn. When I showed my mum the pattern, she liked it as much as I thought she would. So I stuck it in my queue and let it sit for a while.

Eventually, I opened the pattern to look at it, and of course, it's written for toe-up construction. I have experience rewriting patterns to work cuff-down, but I really didn't feel like doing that this time. And I knew that if I ever actually managed to finish the first one toe-up, I might never want to do the second one. While I'm comfortable leaving projects for me half-done for indefinite periods of time, I'd rather keep my mother well-supplied with wool stuff.

I really hope this doesn't end in tears.


Monday, April 20, 2015

WIP: Battleship


I hope you all had a nice and restful weekend! It was grey and rainy here, which we desperately needed, so there was plenty of time to sit inside and knit. I got my Battleship Tank all ripped out and started again on smaller needles, and it's zooming right along now (at a much more reasonable size).

I'm about halfway through my yarn right now, so hopefully I can get it long enough for my tastes before I run out (of course this yarn is discontinued!). I'm changing the rate of increases for the body of the tank-only increasing every eight rows instead of every four. We'll see how that works out-in case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty laid back about this whole process, and if I have to rip back to the start of the body increases, I will.

I was originally intending for this top to not be a super quick knit-I just wanted something simple and easy on the needles, to counter my other main WIPs right now. But it's already pretty far along, and since I had to go down a couple of needle sizes, I actually want these needles freed up for another summer top I'm planning.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Whoops: Battleship, or, I Knit a Tent

I did something very bad. This is something that I always warn people not to do, because the consequences are very real. I am aware of this, and I conscientiously chose to go forward anyway.

I started knitting a top without swatching, and it is way too big.  Part of the luxury of being a fast knitter is that I can go ahead with something knowing that it will blow up in my face. I knew the top was going to be way to big, so once there was enough of it knit to make it worth trying on, I moved it from the needles to waste yarn and threw it in the sink for a bit.


As I predicted, it grew. A lot. This is a 50/50 linen-cotton blend, so I knew it was going to have a lot of horizontal stretch once blocked. And it does. So this weekend, I'll rip out what I have so far and start again with smaller needles.

I'm prepared to hear everyone telling me I should have known better, and that I should have swatched, but I promise, I had very good reasons for forgoing a swatch:

1. This is just for me. No deadlines, no worries, it will get done when it gets done, and it's all mindless stockinette, mostly in the round. It's not really going to make too much of a difference to start over from this point.

2. Swatches lie. When something is really big, the weight of it will pull the fabric in ways that the swatch doesn't always predict.

3. I would have had to knit a very large swatch to account for the change in fabric over size (like, eight inches square or greater). And given the nature of this yarn, even that swatch would have lied.

4. Because of the need for such a large swatch, it only took a little more time to knit the whole upper part of this top and try it on than it would have to get a big enough swatch and to consider it carefully before moving forward.

5. So, one might argue that I was, in fact, being a responsible knitter by recognizing a swatch wouldn't give me enough information and therefore skipping it. I'm going to go with that.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WIP: Flower Market Shawl


Last week I finally started my Flower Market Shawl-I'd had the pattern in my queue for ages, and I had yarn picked out and bough before Christmas. Then Andi gifted me the pattern a while back, and I've been itching to cast on ever since.

This is a joy to knit so far. I absolutely love this yarn-it's The Fibre Company Road to China Light again, in the Agate colorway. It's like knitting with fuzzy butter. It's a heavier yarn than the pattern calls for, so this is going to be a thicker lace. It's looking very textured and gorgeous right now, and it's going to bloom beautifully once I block it.

I'm on the fifth of eight body lace repeats, and just getting to the point where each row is starting to feel a bit long. The pattern rows flow so well, too. I've been on a crazy shawl kick lately (although, when am I ever not on a crazy shawl kick?) and it feels great to see something so beautiful appear on my needles almost effortlessly.

While this is working pretty well for tv knitting, it requires just enough attention that I can't read while working on it. That's especially rough right now, because I'm so close to the end of In the Woods that I just can't bear it (in fact, I may be done by the time you read this). I have some short story collections lined up next, plus the next book in A Song of Ice and Fire, so there's plenty of good stuff coming my way. (Also, I maybe decided that two 1000+ page books in the queue weren't enough, because a copy of Outlander finally made it home with me from the store. Whoops.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Progress: Garter Squish Cuddle Blanket


Well, it's been a while since you all got to see any progress on the Garter Squish Cuddle Blanket, so here we go! We've fortunately had a cold streak here last week, and couple that with feeling a little under the weather for a couple of days, and I've made some actual progress on this.

That last blue and grey stripe felt like it took forever. When I started this blanket, I could finish a stripe in less than a day, but I was stuck on blue and grey for a while. I frequently encounter the phenomenon in knitting where as a piece gets larger, it takes longer to knit. Part of it is that it takes longer to see progress once it gets a certain size, but I think that my knitting slows down too, for whatever reason. At any rate, I'm on to red and blue now, and it's nice to see some progress again. I'm hoping to get a few more rows done on this before summer sets in for good, but we'll have to see how it goes.

Friday, April 10, 2015

FO: Shrowl


Last weekend while Anemone was here, I finished the seams for her Shrowl and we got pictures. This was actually a very enjoyable knit. As I've mentioned before, I normally am not especially fond of knitting anything scarf-like, but the garter ribbing in this had a really nice rhythm and was a good side project-barely needed any attention, but didn't make me fall asleep.

The yarn was a find at one of the consignment stores in town-a lot of times there's mostly junk stuff, but I've gotten a couple of nice yarns there, and it's always nice to find something for $2 or less a ball. The color was totally Anemone, and after some going back and forth, she asked for "something convertible."

I knit this pretty much exactly as written. I was a little short of the recommended yardage, so I just knit until I had 5-7 yards left, to make sure I had enough for the seams and a little bit for my scrap stash. I was a bit nervous about this fitting on the futon to block, but it worked out perfectly.


Ravelry Page: Shrowl
Pattern: Shrowl, by Stephen West

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blocked Up


Well, a slow couple of weeks was definitely what I needed. I'm not quite back up to speed yet, but I feel so much better than I did last month. The creative juices are flowing, ideas are percolating, and I am definitely ready to start easing back into my full schedule.

Which is perfect, since this is what my blocking basket looks like. I normally like blocking quite a bit-it's the first chance to see what the project will really look like, to watch the yarn bloom and fall into place, and the last chance to wrestle the project into submission. I love working with my hands, and blocking is all hands (well, I suppose all of knitting is technically all hands, but blocking feels a bit more physical), and it's thrilling and fulfilling, and one of my favorite parts of a project.

There's some good stuff in the blocking basket, but I probably ought to get started soon-I only have the one futon to block stuff out on, and depending on how long it takes things to dry, there's probably close to a week's worth of blocking here. Hopefully I'll be able to start tackling some of this before the weekend, but if not, it's waited this long, so what's a few more days? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Joy and Things


Well, just as I hoped, the weekend was almost miraculously relaxing. I watched movies with my mum, I finished a shawl, I got through several chart repeats of another shawl, and I made absolutely no decisions other than how to cook the asparagus for Easter dinner (roasted with garlic and black pepper-yum).

State employees had Friday afternoon off work, so Anemone and I trekked out to the thrift store to see if there were any good treasures to be found. There were a few things I might have been tempted by, but the only thing I ended up getting was this cross stitch sampler someone made and framed years ago.

I think a lot about the talismanic nature of things, and this sampler really spoke to me. I like the message, and I like that someone put time and effort into stitching that message out and making it beautiful, and then securing it in a frame to be protected and treasured for a long time. The idea of someone putting so much love and joy into something makes me smile a little bit every time I see it, so this will get hung up above my door for a little daily reminder.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Slowness


I've been struggling a bit with today's post. I've mentioned this week that I've been doing some thinking and re-evaluating, which means right now in the aftermath of all that, I'm doing some settling. Not settling in terms of accepting something I find less than fulfilling, but settling in terms of allowing myself to be comfortable with things the way they are. I'm happy with my life now, but for whatever reason, I feel a bit unsettled, if that makes sense, so I'm working on that.

I know I've mentioned feeling rushed the past few weeks, and I'm finally getting over that. I need to take some time to slow down a bit, and I think that will help. This week has been very productive, but it also feels really relaxed. I finished two of my WIPs this week, and instead of feeling like I've just checked two huge things off my to-do list, I feel like things are just progressing as they should. Things get knit, and things get done, and we move on, and everything is as it should be.


Part of it may be the change of season. I always feel off-kilter when things start heating up-I'm a cold weather girl through and through, and warm temperatures unsettle me. But I've been taking things slow, and finding the good. I got my hair cut this week, which I needed dreadfully. It's so much lighter, and that's a lot of less physical and psychological weight to carry around going into spring and summer (hey, hair gets heavy!).

I don't know how long this "slow mood" is going to end up lasting, but I definitely need it. I sometimes get so wrapped up in the doing of things that I don't listen to my own internal cycles and rhythms, but everyone needs to slow down once in a while.  March ended up being a pretty busy and intense month for me, so it makes sense that April needs to be more scaled-back. However things work out, I'm planning on a slow and restful weekend.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Clearing Out Some WIPs


I finished binding off the green shawl last night, and it's waiting for its chance to get blocked. I'm definitely relieved to get it done-there were some false finishes along the way, but I finally got it sorted and it's going to be a nice little shoulder warmer. And that's one WIP off the needles. I honestly have no idea when it will get blocked, and the pattern won't be ready for a while, so this might be the last I talk about it for a few weeks. It's okay, though, it will be back eventually.

Anemone's Shrowl is up next. There's about 20g of yarn left right there, so I think I'm in a pretty good place to get it done this week. That will be another thing off the needles, and Anemone will be home this weekend to get it. So it should work out perfectly. I'm actually a bit surprised by how much I've enjoyed knitting this-it's knit pretty much as a scarf, and then you throw in a couple of seams. Normally I hate scarves, but I really like the garter rib here. It's just some good, plain old knitting, that takes just enough counting to be interesting, but doesn't really require any attention. I do have to figure out where I'm going to block it-I'm afraid it might end up being too long for the futon.


I'm not feeling like I need to cast on something new right now, so I'm definitely taking advantage of that while it lasts. I have a couple of big things I want to start work on, but I want to feel like the old WIPs are at least under control. My vintage medallion shawl has been sitting around for ages, so I really want to get it finished this year, and my garter squish cuddle blanket is a huge stash eater, and I feel like a blanket takes up less space than a couple dozen balls of yarn. (I know that they technically do occupy the same area, but a blanket can be squished at the end of a bed or folded in a trunk. Yarn takes up stash space.)