Two more sleeps!

Rhinebeck is so soon, and I am so excited to go! I don’t think I’ve ever needed a vacation more, and even though it’s just a long weekend it’s going to be a great way to escape everyday life. And the Fiasco is coming this time! He’ll finally understand what I mean when I talk about it like the holy-friggin’-grail of the knitting world (maybe). And of course, my Hatchling will be there, too.

I’ve abandoned all plans to finish spinning that pink yarn and knitting a pussyhat with it. For one, I’m out of time. But also, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous! At 70 degrees and sunny, I’m not going to need to wear a bulky weight hat. So instead, I’m hoping to finish the projects I’m currently knitting for my little boy.

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Flax Sweater in Malabrigo Rios, colorway Hojas

I’m nearly done with this great little Flax sweater designed by tincanknits. The pattern is easy peasy and a pleasure to knit. My progress was slightly delayed when I couldn’t find my size 6 DPNs for the cuffs. I realized that I probably hadn’t used those needles in over 2 years and had no earthly idea where they might be. Rather than face the pile of WIPs to try to figure out where they were hiding, I just bought another set. These bamboo needles are ridiculously cheap ($14 for 12 sets of needles!) on amazon and have decently sharp points and last forever (as long as you don’t lose them). I don’t knit with DPNs often enough to care if they’re fancy, I just need them to be there when I want them.

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Dino-Roar! hat with Malabrigo Rios, colorways Hojas and Apple Green

The knitting for this dinosaur hat (designed by Kate Oates) has been done for a while but as with my last project, I’ve been procrastinating the finishing. I finally got around to blocking it and now need to work up the nerve to sew the wee spikes onto the top of the hat *shudder*. I really have no idea how to approach this. The top of the hat swirls around as you decrease, so I can’t even follow a column of stitches to make sure they’re attached in a straight line and that’s as far as I’ve gotten in trying to sort this out. I don’t want them to be wonky! How do I attach these to best guarantee non-wonkiness?

With a little luck, in a few days you’ll see me wandering the fairgrounds with an overheating toddler in his brand new hat and sweater, made by Mama.

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And Now We Wait

I had quite the exciting (and productive!) weekend, which is always a nice way to start off a new and busy week. I missed my Inspiration Saturday post this weekend because the Fiasco and I were off hunting for spinning wheels at the knitter’s mecca: Webs!

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And with a well-placed sunbeam, no less.

If you remember from last week, I was having an internal debate over whether to make the 4-hr drive there and back twice in one week: once on Thursday to try the wheels out (when they are open late) and again over the weekend to pick up the wheel. The goal of this plan would’ve been to insure that I got my wheel order in before they sold out, since they were having a big 20% off a single item sale. In the end, I decided that making two trips was too crazy, even for me, and that I’d have to leave it up to fate and see what was left when I got there.

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Trying to try a Matchless.

Everybody in the store was super helpful, even though they were totally mobbed with customers. The extremely sweet store manager, Stephanie, helped me try out the wheels. The Schacht Matchless was a gorgeous wheel: large and solid, with an attractive shape. The treadles were large and very comfortable to work. Unfortunately, we had quite a bit of trouble getting the double drive tension system set up so I didn’t get a chance to really try it out. I could see the Fiasco’s face start to fall as he watched a couple different ladies come by and fiddle with it for several minutes to try get it to work: he knew that since I’m crap with machines, he’d be the one who would have to fiddle with it at home. I didn’t want something that was a pain to set up or work with so we decided that at this time, the Matchless was not for me. (Disclaimer: this could have been this particular wheel or my general inexperience with double drive, I’ve heard wonderful things about the wheel from people who own them.)

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Trying a Ladybug, with the Lendrum behind me.

The other wheels I went to try where the Schacht Sidekick, the Schacht Ladybug, and the Lendrum DT. (Note: the Lendrum link is an affiliate link to The Woolery, I could not find a company website for Lendrum.) I wasn’t interested in purchasing a travel wheel, but I tried the Sidekick anyway while I was there. You can just see one of its treadles in the back behind the fiber. It’s a tiny wheel, quite adorable really, and I like the look of the teal drive wheel (obviously). The sideways wheel was surprising to spin on, I often use my foot in a rung of the drive wheel to start it spinning and its not possible to do that on the Sidekick. I think that would bother me a bit at first but is likely something I could adjust to. The Ladybug was also a cute wheel, and seemed much smaller in person than it looked online. It was definitely much smaller than the Babe I currently own, so I felt a bit hunched over as I tried to work with it. There were some tension system issues with this wheel as well, the takeup wasn’t working properly, so it was difficult to get a good feel of how it would spin in tip top condition. Many people are very happy with their Ladybugs, but I wanted something a little larger and more solid (it is made with lightweight MDF, not wood) since I already own a lightweight, plastic wheel.

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Lendrum Original DT. Photo from The Woolery.

I was so caught up in spinning on the Lendrum, that I didn’t even take a picture! I loved this wheel the moment I treadled it. It’s much more attractive in person than I thought, the maple wood is lovely and the wheel has a nice, solid feel. It’s a tall wheel that is tilted at a bit of an angle so the orifice is closer to you than it would be if it were perpendicular to the floor. It seemed very simple to set up and use, and I appreciated small details like the slot where the orifice hook resides. I was already biased towards this wheel when I went in since I love that the complete package came with a lazy kate and three different flyers (regular, fast, and jumbo) that allow you to spin at 9 different ratios from 5:1 to 17:1, making it a very versatile wheel from the get-go, for which you won’t need to purchase many accessories right away. When I tried it, the spinning was smooth and effortless, and the store manager couldn’t say enough good things about the wheel — basically everyone who spins at Webs owns a Lendrum, and she was very excited to welcome me to ‘the cult’. Stephanie was so excited that even though they didn’t have any more in stock (they thought they did, but they couldn’t find them, even though the system said there was 1 left, but then it said there were 5 left, which was just crazy) she ordered a wheel for me and still allowed me to purchase it at the sale price. Huzzah!

And now we wait. I had mentally prepared myself for not even being able to purchase a wheel, so I thought I would be cool with not getting to take one home, and even bragged to the Fiasco about how I cool I was about the whole thing and that it was better this way since the wheel is supposed to be my Christmas gift so if I wait for it, I’ll get it closer to Christmas. I thought I’d be cool, but I’m so not! I want my new wheel! The more I think about it, the more excited I get! Also a little nervous, since that was the fastest I’d ever made a decision about a large purchase. But I think I did enough research and should trust my instincts anyway, right? Right! And of course, I didn’t come home from Webs empty-handed.

With the purchase of a wheel, you get a pound of fiber so I took home some Ashland Bay Falkland, which I think I’ll use to break in my new wheel. Even with a pound of new fiber, I couldn’t resist that blue-green braid of SweetGeorgia superwash BFL. I’ve admired Felicia’s colorways for a long time but had not yet purchased any. And even though I know I said I wasn’t knitting any Christmas presents this year, it turns out that someone on my list really wants some winter accessories and I think a chunky blue/purple cowl made out of Malabrigo Mecha will be just the thing. Finally, we went to a nearby gift shop in Northampton and found the coolest literary-themed candles ever. Aren’t they awesome?

What do you do to help yourself wait patiently for something really exciting? Help a knitter out!

 

 

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.

 

Some Promised FOs

I’ve been remiss about getting photos of my finished projects in daylight (stupid winter/busy schedules) so here are a bunch all in a row!

Copycat Cowl:

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Verdant Gryphon Codex, colorway Jah Music. Click for project page.

I finally got a picture of my new favorite cowl! I totally copied another Raveler’s idea of combining the luxurious Codex yarn with this super-simple-yet-gorgeous pattern (Ingot by Lisa Mutch). The BFL/silk yarn knit at a really loose gauge makes a lovely, fluid fabric. I made mine a little larger than the pattern calls for and I think it’s the perfect size to wear either long or doubled up. Gryphon herself admired it when I wore it to Stitches East!

Purple Dissipative:

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Malabrigo Twist, colorways Zinc and Grapes. Click for project page.

I finished my first #Giftalong project! This is my own pattern, Dissipative, knit in one of my all-time-favorite yarns and new favorite color combination. I love how well the texture shows up in the semi-solid gray. It will be hard to gift this one away!

Camp Out Mitts:

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Ella Rae Lace Merino Chunky. Click for project page.

These mitts didn’t even make it to the blog before I was finished with them (there are two now, I promise). This is a modified version of the Camp Out Fingerless Mitts pattern by Tante Ehm. It’s a simple, free pattern that I customized for thicker yarn and sizing preferences. I have to admit that I’m not in love with the thumb. I tried picking up stitches to add more length to it but it kept looking awkward and pulling too tightly because of the cast on stitches. I’m going to explore this kind of mitt construction later and try to come up with a thumb I like better. This yarn, by the way, is awesome. It was my first time knitting with it and it has such a great plump, beefy feel to it. It makes a nice, thick fabric that I know will keep the recipient’s hands cozy.

Brazen:

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Verdant Gryphon Codex, colorway Ullikana. Click for project page.

Last but not least is my mom’s kick-cancer’s-butt shawl. This is another simple, free pattern (Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarn) that really shines in a gorgeous yarn. I modified mine a bit by adding another section to make it larger. I love it this size and wear the one I knit for myself a couple of years ago all the time

So there you have all the FO’s I’ve been waiting to show off! What’s your favorite simple pattern? What kinds of knits do you come back to again and again?

WIPWed #37: Hat, Anyone?

Hats are my absolute favorite holiday gift to knit. They are practical, easy to size, and knit in thick yarn they are quick and perfectly warm. They are also a fun place to try out new stitches, as long as you keep an eye on how the decreases in the crown will look (messy crown decreases are a pet peeve of mine).

IMG_5142Those are all the skeins I (hand!) wound for Malabrigo October Stockpile. I have 2 more skeins of Rios and 1 more of Rasta that need winding, but essentially every one of those skeins except the big purple Rasta is destined to be a hat. So this week, I’ve got a bunch of hats on the needles.

Mecha Waffles:

IMG_5152This one’s actually an FO! It was on and off the needles before I even had a chance to show you the WIP. This is my standard waffle-knit hat made with Malabrigo’s new bulky weight superwash singles yarn, Mecha. Guys– this stuff is delightful. Springy and soft, it knit up into a substantial fabric without feeling bulletproof thick. It’s perfect for textured stitches. Even though this is such a basic hat, I’m planning to write up the pattern for it because none of the other waffle hats out there do it exactly like I do and I’ve knit so many of these over the years, there might as well be a pattern out there!

Double Swag:

IMG_5163This one looks like an FO, but alas, it is not. It’s too short so I will be ripping back (again!) and adding more length. This gives me the chance to ask for opinions: do you like it the way it is now, with green being the last slipped stitch section and the top of the hat being black? I keep wondering if I’d like it better with black as the last slipped stitch section and green for the top. Thoughts?

Purple Ruffian:

IMG_5160Here’s a new WIP! This is the brand new Ruffian pattern by Hunter Hammersen, knit in Malabrigo Twist (colorways Grape and Zinc). It’s pretty fun so far, I’m loving the color combo and Twist is my favorite Mal base. I inadvertently modified the pattern by adding a section of purple after the brim before starting the little grey ‘poofs’, but I think it’ll still look good.

Chunky Cables:

IMG_5162This hat is currently just a swatch, using Malabrigo Chunky in Pearl. I’m not loving it right now, what worked well in my head isn’t translating the same way in this thick yarn, but my experiments were ruthlessly cut short when a certain kitty-who-shall-remain-nameless chewed through my yarn. Oh, kitty.
Copycat Cowl:
IMG_5153And just to keep you on your toes, here’s a cowl! This is the lovely Ingot cowl designed by Lisa Mutch in The Verdant Gryphon Codex (a.k.a. my ultimate weakness). I’m completely in love with the blues in this cowl. Love.
Geez, are those enough WIPs for you? If not, check out some more over at Tamis Amis.

WIPWed #35: Knit-a-long’s Everywhere!

Guess what, guys? It’s October! That means it’s time for Malabrigo October Stockpile on the Malabrigo Junkies board! That means there are KALs and contests and plans and schemes to stockpile as many one-skein knits for holiday gift-giving as possible. Also, lots of lovely Mal Junkie designers offer discounts off their patterns (myself included: 20% off any of mine until the end of the month with code “MalStock13”) so there really is no excuse not to join in on the fun. Hence, I have a new WIP:

Striped Comfort:

IMG_5112Thanks to a wickedly long morning meeting, I’m nearly finished already! (I love bulky hats.) The pattern is my free Giving Comfort knit in Malabrigo Chunky Mariposa and Bobby Blue leftovers. I changed color on the knit/purl rows specifically to get that dashed look along the blue stripe. The color combo is a little wacky but I think my niece will like it!

October is also apparently all about socks (Socktober!) on Cassy’s blog and I can’t say I disagree, with most of my holiday gift recipients wanting socks this year it seems like I’m destined to participate. Goodness knows I have enough SIPs to finish up! Hence, my second WIP.

Ribby & Blue:

IMG_5108This pattern is coming out of my head. The yarn is BMFA Socks that Rock Heavyweight in a fabulous, fabulous mistake colorway. I love how the swirl of the colors is interacting with the swirl of the rib pattern. Fun!

Finally, we have Light Blue Sea:

This WIP has obviously not gotten very far yet, but it will become a Deep Sea Wanderer cowl so I can join in with Audry’s KAL on Ravelry.

Phew! Is that enough KALs for you? Check out other WIPs this week by visiting Tamis Amis.