Vanishing Weeks

Time, time, time. Gone, gone, gone. I suppose I should resign myself to once-a-month posts and not expect anything different for a while. My apologies, friends, I do miss sharing in this space and reading all your blogs. I will have to work on a different system now that my leisure/computer time is more limited due to this sweet 8.5 month old.

Despite the presence of a distractingly cute young fella, I have managed to finish a couple of things since the last time we spoke (6 weeks ago!). First, my fabulously simple Wine Toasts:

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The Verdent Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage.

I played a game of yarn chicken with these suckers, and I actually won! Yay for using up leftovers. I linked them to the Toast pattern but these are literally just a stockinette tube with rolled edges. I lengthened and gradually tapered them to accommodate my larger forearms so they’d be the perfect thing to wear with elbow-length sleeve sweaters that are flattering on me but not ideal for my chilly office.

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Stripey goodness.

I love their size, and they are knit with one of my all-time favorite yarns (VG Zaftig = worsted weight superwash Merino / chashmere / nylon). Next time, I’d skip the rolled hem and just do some ribbing. This project confirmed that rolled hems annoy the crap out of me when worn, even though they look fun.

The second thing I’ve finished lately was knit for a friend’s bridal shower: Jola Smittens.

Her sister was organizing a “seasons of love” gift basket idea so I chose the winter basket specifically so I would have an excuse to make these ridiculous and adorable conjoined mittens. (Plus, I got to fill the basket with lots of fun coffe/tea/cookies/mugs/blankets/etc. which was oh-so-cozy.) I knit this using KnitPicks Brava bulky (an acrylic yarn) held double. The yarn is quite soft and was surprisingly pleasant to knit with, except for the fact that it tangled like crazy as I worked with it. Apparently, acrylic really likes to stick to itself, especially when it’s wound too loosely. Nevertheless, they came out well and were fairly simple. The Fiasco has declared he wants a pair for us.

Now that those are finished, I don’t have much on the needles that I’m actively working on. I’ve started another Pussyhat because rage, rage forever but otherwise… I’m in project limbo. I took a Webs trip recently (details of recent yarn acquisitions forthcoming) so I have lots of ideas, and just need to pick one to commit to. (Hahahaha, one.)

I hope you’ve all had lovely Februaries and Marches thus far!

 

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WIPWed #120: Ode to My Mitts

After six full years of wear, my favorite fingerless mitts are just starting to give up the ghost. These are a modified version of the Mitt Envy pattern (designed by weezalana) knit with Malabrigo Sock yarn (fingering weight, 100% superwash Merino wool).

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Sad, frayed edge.

I noticed the other day that the bind off edge has frayed and released a few loose stitches on both mitts. I’m not quite sure how to fix it, but they don’t really seem to be unraveling too badly at the moment. Since my knitting this week looks exactly the same as last week, I figured I’d gush about how impressed I am by these mitts, instead.

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Freshly made, back in 2010.

These mitts pre-date my blog, I finished them in March 2010. They were the only mitts I owned until I made a different pair a year and a half later, and even after I made the other pair I wore these primarily for ‘rough and tumble’ work–I did not baby these mitts. They were worn pretty much all fall/winter/spring, came horseshoe crab counting with me during grad school, handled tree branches and fish alike during hiking and fieldwork, and even served as full-on handkerchiefs a time or two.

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Besides the edge, they look good as new.

All that is to highlight that I am seriously impressed with how these mitts have held up over the years. Besides the frayed edge, which probably would have held up better if I’d known about stretchy bind-offs at the time that I made them, they look basically as good as new. The fabric has loosened up some over the years, but the stitches are still sharp and the cabling is crisp, with hardly any pilling at all. I’ll be honest, I did not expect the Malabrigo Sock yarn to hold up so well. It’s such a soft, thin yarn, but it is apparently also strong and hard-wearing. I think it would still be a little too thin for my taste in thick socks, but I’d happily use it for anything and everything else.

Has a favorite piece of knitwear every worn out? What did you do about it?

As for books, this week I’m reading Pink Brain, Blue Brain by  Lise Eliot and I’m loving it. It’s written by a neuroscientist who basically dissects all the research related to sex differences in the brain and development of children from the prenatal period onwards, and how relatively small differences grow into the larger perceived gender gaps in adulthood through societal influences. She debunks a lot of the pseudoscience floating around out there and details which differences are established (i.e., real and biologically influenced) and which are due to cultural bias. It’s fascinating stuff, and potentially useful. For instance, boys on average are fussier and harder to soothe as infants than girls, because their neurological systems lag a few weeks behind due to suppression of development in the womb by prenatal testosterone. WHO KNEW?! I didn’t, but I’m glad I do now.

Despite the lack of new knitting this week, I’m linking up with Yarnalong.

IS #79: Worsted Weight Wonders

It has been quite a while since my last Inspiration Saturday post, but it’s also been some time since I’ve had a chance to really sink my teeth into a pattern search. Many of these posts are born of a burning need to find just the right pattern for just the right yarn and lately I haven’t had any pattern-matching conundrums. However, I’ve just discovered that The Verdant Gryphon has brought back one of my favorite yarn bases (Zaftig Bugga, a worsted weight MCN blend) and well, I had to know how many skeins to buy for my next project, didn’t I? Let the luxurious, worsted-weight-accessory-pattern curating commence!

The Millwater cowl by Beth Kling is one I’ve had queued for Zaftig for quite some time.

Copyright Beth Kling. Click for pattern page.

I knit this pattern out of Malabrigo Twist a while back and really enjoyed it. The knitting is simple and soothing, just garter stitch with a ribbed cable that is knit flat and then seamed. I think the finished piece is striking and versatile and looks lovely in semi-solids and variegated yarns.

Another simple-but-striking cabled pattern is the Tidal Flats hat by Melissa Thomson.

Copyright Alexa Ludeman. Click for pattern page.

This hat is part of the Cascadia collection, which contains many lovely accessory and sweater patterns. This hat would work best in a semi-solid, so as not to obscure all that smooth reverse stockinette.

I’ve been enamored with this Bosc scarf by Robin Ulrich for ages:

Copyright Robin Ulrich. Click for pattern page.

It’s just so dang elegant, and knit in worsted weight it would be cozy, beautiful, and fairly quick to knit.

This Fission mitts by Annika Barranti would be quite cushy in Zaftig.

Copyright Vivian Aubrey. Click for pattern page.

I love the laced-up i-cord details, the cables, and the twisted stitches. You need a yarn with good stitch definition to really make these pop. The style is a little bit similar to my Berriboned Wrists pattern (lacing-wise, anyway):

Copyright Alicia Morandi. Click for pattern page.

The wristwarmers were initially designed with Zaftig, and are quite cozy as all get-out in the heavier weight yarn. (I’m wearing them as I type, in fact!)

To up the elegance ante, we have the Juneberry Shawl designed by Jared Flood.

Copyright Brooklyn Tweed. Click for pattern page.

I’ve adored this shawl for quite some time, but have been having internal debates over whether I want to knit it out of Zaftig or something a bit drapier with some silk content, like Codex or Mondegreen.

Lastly, and the pattern I will most likely knit first, is the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer.

Copyright Knitscene. Click for pattern page.

I think the plump, tightly-twisted texture of Zaftig will lend great stability to this striking, structured cloche. I love the stitch definition in the photo, the possibility of amazing color combination, and that jaunty flipped brim. This hat needs to be rocked so hard, and I plan to rock it well.

Have you been inspired by anything in particular lately? What’s your favorite use for worsted weight yarn? Let us know in the comments below!

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Betwixt

I’m a tad late for WIP Wednesday and a little early for FO Friday, so I’m going to hit you with both at once! (OooOOoOooo!) This week is barreling by and flattening me in the process. Since my energy level is essentially zero, I’m going to keep this short, sweet, and full of pretty knits. Onwards!

Novelty:

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Feza Yarns Alp Light. Click for project page. (Terrible mirror selfie? Check!)

I finished my mom’s scarf-that-wouldn’t-end, huzzah! I have to say, the funky-factor was pretty cool after the knitting was finished. It’s not even a little bit my style but my mom will totally rock it. I admit my fingers are grateful to put down the novelty yarns and get back to good ol’ wool, though.

Fiasco’s Mitts:

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Feederbrook Farm alpaca/Shetland yarn. Click for project page.

The long-suffering fiance suffers no more! I stayed up working into the wee hours of the morning in a fit of relationship devotion to finish these mitts for him. I am happy I did because 1) they’ were my last holiday gift to finish and 2) nobody appreciates handknit items like my dear Fiasco. He truly loves them, which makes my knitterly heart so happy.

And now for a few WIPs…

Scummy Cedar Grove:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts De-Vine, colorway Pond Scum. Click for project page.

My completely-selfish, couldn’t-wait-another-minute birthday shawl is well underway. Yes, birthday shawl. I’m hoping to have it finished by the 24th of this month. Do you think I can make it? It’s knit with rather bulky yarn on size 11 needles, so I think there’s a decent shot.

Festooned Joy:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts STR, colorway Comfort and Joy. Click for project page.

And kicking off the Socks with Sarah KAL as well as the Socks That Rawk! Clean Slate KAL is this lovely old WIP begun in 2012. This poor holiday sock has wistfully watched two Christmases pass by without being finished. Since there’s so much pink and red in the yarn, I feel like it can pass for a Valentine’s Day sock easily enough, so V-day is my goal. I’d say it’s doable!

Clearly, I’m feeling optimistic tonight. Do you set yourself goals for completion or do you just knit whatever, whenever? Check out Tamis Amis for some more WIPs and FOs!

WIPWed #43: Still Working On Gifts

Not to be a whiner or anything, but the urge for selfish knitting is getting pretty strong and I’m still working on holiday-leftover-knits-for-other-people. I don’t handle project monogamy well but I’m trying my darnedest to finish things up ASAP because the recipients are wonderful and knitworthy… I just might get a little twitchy in the process.

Awareness:

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Malabrigo Twist, colorway Damask Rose. Also, meet Glenda, my new hat model! Click for project page.

First up is actually a FO, my mom’s second of three planned chemo caps. (You can find the first in this post.) This simple pattern of reverse stockinette ridges takes on a very feminine look when you wrap the yarn around a few times and gather the ridges up into a turban-esque shape. I think it would be flattering for many different faces. The pattern is the Purl Knit Turban by Sarah Dudek and it is super yummy knit in the Malabrigo Twist.

Novelty:

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Feza Yarns Alp Light. Click for project page.

This yarn is the weirdest stuff I’ve ever worked with. It’s composed of different novelty yarns cut up and knotted together so it forms thick blocks of different colors and textures as you knit. My mom absolutely fell in love with the store sample and this is for her but damn am I looking forward to the end of that freaky ball of yarn. (And not looking forward to trying to block the thing.)

Fiasco’s Mitts:

Feederbrook Farm Alpaca/Shetland. Click for project page.

Poor, poor Fiasco. He always gets knit-shafted. Here is part of his belated xmas present: a pair of mitts made with some delightfully sheep-y wool I picked up at Rhinebeck 2012. Luckily, these mitts knit up fairly quickly so once the Endless Brown Scarf is over he should have these mitts in hand (teehee) lickity-split.

Loop! Bumps 2-ply:

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Loop! bullseye bumps in Elf and Kermit Coordinate. Click for handspun project page.

Have you ever spun a Loop! bullseye bump? Spinners on Ravelry raved and raved about them and I just had to try them. They are composed of fiber that has been blended really well, layered in color progressions, and wound so the fiber comes out of the center of the bump in on long, continuous strand. Unlike regular drum-carded batts that are great for woolen spinning, bullseye bumps are made for worsted spinning because they are so smoothly prepared and the fibers are well-aligned. I purchased the Elf bump (on the left) myself, which has a wonderful long color progression from deep teal through olive greens and spring greens to a bright aqua that ends in grey. Then I received the Kermit Coordinate bump as a gift, which transitions through similar color families in much shorter repeats. It’ll be really cool to see what happens when I spin each bump separately and ply the two together. The effect should be something along the same lines as fractal spinning.

One of my goals for the year that I didn’t mention before is to spin a little bit every day. I really enjoyed spinning like crazy for Spinzilla and if I can squeeze in just a minute here or there, I know my handspun output will increase dramatically. Plus, it feels good to ‘zen’ out a little every day. I’m going to post photos of my spinning on my Instagram with the hashtag #dailyspin, if you’d like to join in or follow along.

What are you working on this week? Am I the only one still scrambling to finish up late gifts? Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis and some spinning show & tell at Crafts from the Cwtch.

Handmade Holidays

Oh boy, could I use a break from holiday goings-on. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with different people every day but right around now I usually want nothing more than just to settle back into routine, nest a little, have some alone time. I like to prepare for the new year with a clean house, an organized life, and a list of goals for the upcoming year and I just haven’t had a chance to do any of that yet! (I’m insanely jealous of those who have off from work for the whole holiday period, I am not one of the lucky ones.) I can’t complain, though, as I was thoroughly spoiled in many fiber-y ways this Christmas.

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Yes, that is a veritable boat-load of yarn.

These are nearly all of my stash enhancements (not pictured is 15 oz of Romney wool roving). Clockwise from top left: unknown wool from a farm in New Hampshire, Cephalopod Yarns Traveller in Kalamazoo and Peaks of Otter, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Joy to the World, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Yaksi (a new yarn!) in Shoqua, Loop! Bullseye Bump in Kermit Coordinate, Black Trillium Pebble Sock Gradient Kit in Pease, Freia Yarns Ombre Worsted in Blue Velvet, and Countess Ablaze BFL/silk fiber in Petrol. I also received the light box that they’re pictured in, so the lighting in my blog photos should be much improved now! Oh, and my dear Fiasco totally surprised me with stitch markers he made, as well.

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Aren’t they pretty? Totally spoiled.

In addition to receiving many fiber-y gifts, all of the handknit gifts I gave were a big success. I finished most gifts just in time for them to be received. My cousin’s socks were given with needles still in the toe (my uncle got a kick out of that) and two project plans were scrapped entirely and replaced with purchased gifts (rainbow handwarmers and a not-even-started hat). Would you believe that after all that rushing around to finish, I actually forgot to bring NOT ONE, but TWO of the gifts with me? I forgot the vest for little Logan and the hat for my future father-in-law. No worries, though, the vest was mailed off and the hat is now accompanied by a matching cowl (photos soon), so I think I made up for it. The only people who got a little shafted with unfinished handknits this Christmas were the Fiasco (of course) and my mom, who really didn’t get that shafted since the Fiasco made her a beautiful quilt.

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Some knits in action!

I love love love knitting for my little cousins because as soon as they open their gifts, they put them right on and wear them for the rest of the night. Pictured here are the stripey socks on Megan, a hat for Austin, and some cuffs on Olivia. The baby in the bottom right is Lyra, my friends’ little girl. Her gifts haven’t been on the blog yet, I made her a Little Flower Hat by Ewelina Murich and finagled some toddler-sized mittens to coordinate.

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Handmade solid lotion bars.

I also made some lotion bars to give out with gifts. These consist of equal parts beeswax, coconut oil, and cocoa butter with some fragrance oil added. Since I’ve made these bars, I’ve acquired deoderized cocoa butter, mango butter, sweet almond oil, additional fragrances, and lanolin. I see lots of lotion experimenting in my future and when I find a recipe I really, really love, I’m planning to sell them in an etsy shop. All told (counting the lotion bars as one), I finished 16 projects for holiday gifts this year. Not too shabby!

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The Fiasco and our nephew Logan, me with my wonderful mom, and me with my nephews Liam and Logan and my sister-in-law Alyse.

I hope all of your holidays went well and that you are making the most of the end of 2013. Did you give or receive any handmade or fiber-y gifts this year?

WIPWed #43: Don’t Hurt Yourself

Here’s a public service announcement for the holiday knitting season: if you’ve been knitting so many gifts lately that your (insert weird place to feel pain here) is swollen and sore, then you should give yourself a rest. I might have had to take Monday night off from knitting because I might have overdone it a bit over the weekend — my knuckles were very unhappy. Oops. I’m trying not to feel anxious about the lost time but (taking a page from the Yarn Harlot) my knits-to-gift pile still looks like this:

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Yes, I realize there is only a week left. Oy.

That pile represents: a secret gift hidden in the pretty blue project bag, cheerful rainbow armwarmers, a pair of Miscreant cuffs I just started to compensate for the scarf I know I won’t be finishing in time (especially because I seem to have misplaced it somehow), a pair of stripey socks, a completely un-started soon-to-be hat, and a half-finished toddler vest. For those counting along, that’s 6 projects left to finish in the next 7 days. I think the reasons I’m not totally panicking right now are: 1) almost everything is well underway (except the hat), 2) I still have 2 nights of uninterrupted knitting before I travel this weekend, and 3) I’m doing a lot of traveling over the next week and travel time = knitting time. I think I’ll be spending at least 13 hours in some state of transit before all the gifts need to be given so that helps. Some details!

Simple Seaside Stripes:

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Knitpicks Felici Sport. Click for project page.

The key to (last-minute) gift knitting is to keep things simple. These socks are just 3×1 ribbing, it’s the colors that make them interesting. An afterthought heel also keeps the knitting simple: no stopping and stalling out to deal with a fiddly flap and gusset. Save all the fiddly bits for the last minute, when I’ll really be rushing, woohoo! (In retrospect, this might have been a bad plan.)

Bigger Dyvest:

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Malabrigo Rios, colorway Bobby Blue. Click for project page.

Like the adorable tiny one I finished earlier in the week, this vest is moving along at a good clip. It’s also largely the cause of my poor sore knuckles. However, I’m just about at the front/back split for the armholes and at least with the little one I got through that and the finishing in just a couple of nights, so I’m pretty confident this gift will be finished on time. I tend to prioritize gifts for the very young and the very old, everyone in between should be able to understand if I’m a bit late with a gift. (Right? Right.)

Bigger Miscreants:

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The Verdant Gryphon Codex. Click for project page.

I’m using leftovers from my mom’s Brazen shawl to knit a pair of cuffs. I’m actually not loving how this yarn is behaving in the slipped stitch rib patterning so this project might be frogged, in which case poor Mom will just have to wait a bit longer for her scarf and some other knits I have planned (more chemo caps and things of that nature). I finished the Little Miscreants I was working on earlier, though:

Madelinetosh DK, colorway Cathedral. Click for project page.

I think the pattern works best with a really spring, bouncy wool. It’s simple and quick but the nature of the fabric means it doesn’t have much stretch, so you want to give it as much as you can to start with by using a more elastic yarn. The other gift WIPs in the first photo haven’t been touched this week, except for the Fiasco’s secret gift, which you can see if you click here (RICHARD, DO NOT CLICK).

Phew! I’d chat more, but I need to keep knitting! Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.