WIPWed #118: Looking Outwards

I’m realizing that the level of energy I have lately for social media-type activities has been much reduced. To get a bit existential about it, I feel a bit like I’m looking inwards while this kid inside me grows. It reminds me of the time leading up to finals week during college, when I’d be living in my own head and mentally preparing myself for Big Things To Come, both simultaneously anxious for the time to get here already and slightly concerned about how it all will go down.

Also, I just nap a lot. My Saturday was basically as follows:

  • I’M HUUUUUUUNGRY!
  • eat breakfast
  • watch one tv show
  • eat snack
  • cry over how huge I look in all my clothes (it happens)
  • develop heartburn
  • spend 3 hours at spinner’s guild
  • I’M HUUUUUUUNGRY!
  • eat dinner
  • take a 3 hour nap
  • develop heartburn
  • go to bed

Oh, but it’s such a JOYFUL TIME! *eye roll* I am very much looking forward to the end result, but in the meantime, I’m anxious for it to be over. The only fun part has been feeling the little guy move around, and that’s only when he’s not kicking me directly in the cervix (that’ll get your attention, let me tell you). That said, I am trying to both be patient with myself and my body’s needs, and make a more concerted effort to do the things that bring me joy. Crafting, blogging, etc. bring me joy and I will just need to come up with a better way to time those activities when I’m not so damn tired.

Anyhow, since my last post TWO WEEKS AGO, I finished a few hats, which I will show you this Friday. Therefore, I currently only have two active knitting WIPs to chat about.

Christmas Katniss Socks:

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BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays. Click for project page.

These socks are coming along at a snail’s pace, mostly because I haven’t really been working on them. I do a row here or there when I need some travel knitting but that time was mostly consumed by the hats I finished. Hopefully I’ll make some real progress on these this week.

Sherbet Baby:

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Play At Life Fiber Arts Boundless DK in Pastels, click for project page.

The baby sweater was moving along at a good clip until I hit the border, because I lost part of my yarn swift when I moved in December and was procrastinating winding the next color I needed by hand. I did eventually, and then soon after found the missing part, so yay! However, now I’m procrastinating picking up edge stitches. Finishing techniques are fiddly and not my favorite for easy TV knitting.

Onwards and Outwards:

I’m feeling the urge to cast on something complicated, lightweight, and lacy. I feel like I want to use up some really beautiful yarn, like a yak/silk blend. I think I need a little luxury right now but I’m having a hard time deciding what I want to knit. Here are the three things I am coveting most at the moment:

That purple piece of gorgeousness is the Belmont stole, designed by Tanis Lavallee. I would knit it in 1000 yards of Rewya Fibers Bloom 50% yak / 50% silk yarn that my husband gave me as a gift when we got married. My concern is that it might take me years to actually complete…

This simple little asymmetrical shawlette (Antarktis by Janina Kallio) jumped its way up my queue recently when I was reminded about it by the lovely one that Knitting Sarah is making. That striking skein of Kettle Yarn Co. Westminster in Florence was a reward to myself for finishing the journal publication that resulted from my master’s thesis, and it’s been waiting in my stash for THREE YEARS because I haven’t been able to decide on a pattern special enough for it. I’ve considered the Sundance Scarf and the Shallows cowl, but neither felt exactly right. I’m not sure this is the right one, either, but it would likely get a lot of wear and be a decently quick knit.

Finally, I’ve admired this Ginkgo Shawl, designed by yellowcosmo, for some time now. (Come, admire all the ginkgo things!) I have two skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks That Rock slated for it, in Single Cell Dating Pool and What’saabi. Every time spring approaches I am reminded that I want to make this shawl, and this year is no different. Maybe I actually will?

Which would you knit? Linking up with Yarnalong. This week I’m reading A Prayer for Owen Meany and boy, that John Irving is still successfully messing with my head. He’s a crazy good story-teller.

FOFri #41 : Socks & Swatches

After a couple of busy weeks, I’ve finally had time to sit down and wrap up the toes of not one but TWO pairs of socks!

FOFri #41: Socks & Swatches | Woolen Diversions

We sort of match, and it’s adorable.

I think it’s safe to say that my sock mojo is officially back. I’ve finished 6 pairs of socks thus far this year! That’s almost a pair a month, which is way faster than my sock finishing rate of the last few years. Plus, I knit the exact same pattern, twice, simultaneously. If that’s not fortitude, I don’t know what is. It probably helps that I adore both of the colorways and the slipped stitch patterning feels like it flies by.

My Favorite Socks Ever:

These are, indeed, my favorite socks ever. The pattern is Dalekanium by Dena Stelly. In truth, I didn’t actually follow the pattern (which is toe-up). I just borrowed the stitch pattern and stuck it on my typical 64-stitch cuff-down sock and tapered away the slipped stitch patterning just before I began the toe decreases. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight (my faaaaaaaavorite) in the club colorway Gran’s Kitchen.

Stealth Socks:

And while I got brand new socks, the Fiasco did, too (so he can’t complain of neglect). His birthday socks were just about a week late, which isn’t too bad by my standards. The nice thing about his is that they went just as quickly as mine, despite his larger feet. That’s because I used BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight on size 2.75 mm needles to size up the socks instead of casting on more stitches. (Good thing he likes his socks cushy!) This is the Grimm colorway, and it’s fabulous.

Now that those socks are off the needles and I have a few trips in the near future, I’m itching to cast on some small, quick-but-interesting, portable projects. Which to me, means HATS.

FOFri #41: Socks & Swatches | Woolen Diversions

Swatches, all wet and wonky.

I’ve had two skeins of yarn begging to become hats that I want in my wardrobe like right now since mid-winter, but I just didn’t get a chance to knit them last season. Knitting them in August should give me a solid jump-start on accessories for fall, though!

Black Tea:

Photo copyright BabyCocktails. Click for pattern page.

I’ve been completely in love with this slouchy Black Tea hat pattern since I handled the sample during a class with the designer, Thea Colman, at a knitting event in January. I loved the sample so much that I even hunted down the exact yarn used in the pattern through a destash because I want to replicate the look and feel of the luxurious fabric. The yarn is Bello fingering by the Plucky Knitter (55% Merino wool, 45% cashmere), held double while knitting. Once dry, the swatch will help me determine if I want to use 6’s or 7’s for the main body of the hat. While I could’ve just followed the pattern, my head is a little smaller than most and I’ve never worked with this yarn before so I wanted to get a feel for it and my gauge before I jumped right in.

Paravel Hat:

Photo copyright Megan Goodacre. Click for pattern page.

The other hat will be made with a skein of BMFA BFL Superwash in their fun Sadie Sue Tipsy colorway. The blue in that colorway is the exact same shade of blue as my jacket (and my glasses, and my lampshade, and my wristwarmers…) which makes the color-coordination-lover in me very happy. I knew it wanted to become a hat, but I was debating between the Norby and Sockhead patterns until last night, when I found Paravel (designed by Megan Goodacre) and thought that the simple texture with the interesting lace panel would work well with the specks of color and keep my interest while knitting. Plus, I love the tidy decreases at the top of the hat and appreciate that kind of attention to detail in the patterns I buy.

Photo copyright Megan Goodacre.

So that’s my trip knitting all sorted out! Two hats (and let’s be honest, probably a new pair of socks) should hold me over for a 3-day Cape Cod trip and a week-long conference, right?

(And in case you missed it, check out my Indie Business Interview on the Knitted Bliss blog! There you’ll find a coupon code for free shipping on all domestic AND international Sweet Sheep orders over $10 through August 7th.)

WIPWed #78: Cables and Lace

Even though my entire weekend was filled to the brim with knitting-related events at Slater Mill’s Knitting Weekend, I feel like I’ve hardly accomplished any knitting this week! Here are the results of my weekend knitting:

Woolen Diversions

Swatches from classes. Ignore how unappealing and unblocked they are.

The top swatch is a mini version of a Shetland-style lace shawl that we worked on during Gudrun Johnston’s Shetland lace class. I have not finished knitting on the border because my needles fell out so I decided I’d gone far enough. Besides, I’ve already knit a couple of shawls that employ a Shetland-style construction: my Aestlight shawl (designed by Gudrun) and my Rock Island shawl (designed by Jared Flood). Both involve garter stitch bodies, lace borders, and edgings knit perpendicularly to the body. It’s a fun way to make a shawl, I recommend giving it a shot! Gudrun has a new Hap shawl class up on Craftsy, too, which I bet is great (check her blog for details).

The bottom swatches show a couple of the textured cables that we talked about in Thea Colman’s Playing with Cables class. This class was super interesting as it had a roundtable discussion / workshop feel to it. She essentially explained her creative process, demonstrated how to start coming up with designs featuring cables, and how to manipulate cables in subtle ways to make them do interesting things. It was really great to get to know Thea a little bit and hear about her process. Plus, now that I’ve seen so many of her designs in person, I’m itching to knit them all.

WIPWed #78: Cables and Lace | Woolen Diversions

VG Zaftig, colorway Kiss of Cabernet. Click for project page.

So I started one. My original plan for this wine-red yarn was a Filemot shawl, but after I started it and messed up the stitch count in the first repeat a few times, the project quickly lost its charm. I also didn’t like the way the yarn felt in all of the twisted stitches. Instead, I cast on Thea’s Tonic Water cowl and am loving it. The lace is simple to work but complex enough to be interesting, and the yarn is creating a beautiful fabric. I’m excited to add the accent color, which will be the pale purple colorway used in my Lucy Hat. (Color coordination makes me stupidly happy, can you tell?) It’s kind of funny that the first Thea pattern I chose to knit involves no cabling at all. However, as the Fiasco noted, the lace in the pattern is essentially cable-shaped (twisting around itself), so there’s that. All in all, I’m psyched about this project. My quarterly goals are intended to fill gaps in wardrobe and/or to use up specific yarns, so swapping out a shawl for a cowl pattern is still playing by the rules in my book. (Also check out my new stitchmarker’s! They’re from Lisa’s new Etsy shop, The Knitting Artist.)

WIPWed #78: Cables and Lace | Woolen Diversions

Instagram bobbin shot.

As for spinning, I’ve been working my way through the final few ounces of the same Falkland wool that I used for my ply experiment. I had 17 oz to begin with, and have just about 5 oz left. All that white wool is starting to feel a little endless, and I’m itching to get some color on the bobbins, but I’m persevering!

I almost forgot to show you my Knitting Weekend loot! I received two skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca (a Rhode Island company!) as a welcome gift, purchased some cute buttons and a hook gauge from a fellow Rhode Island spinner and knitter who runs the Katrinkles Etsy shop, some fun speckly yarn from Julie Asselin that I gave away in a gift swap to a very yarn-worthy friend, a lovely blue-green gradient from Play At Life Fiber Arts, and (last but not least) two gorgeous, undyed skeins of Cormo/Alpaca/Silk DK weight yarn from Foxfire Fiber & Designs. I’ve got ideas brewing for all of these new additions, but I’m really trying to stick to my goals… Sigh. Discipline is the worst!

What have you been working on this week?

Still Here, Still Knitting!

I’m not sure where this week has gone, but it has just whizzed right by. I’d meant to post nearly every day, but between work and appointments and trying to get to bed earlier and not wanting to sit down at the computer more after a full work day of sitting at the computer… I just didn’t. And while I missed blogging, this busy week did afford me an opportunity to put my January word intention to use: enough. When I’d done enough for the day, I stopped, and resisted the urge to do more. I think that was a good thing.

Woolen Diversions

Overdyed Cypress, click for project page.

I’ve remained faithful to my first quarter knitting plans, as well. A number of people remarked that my plans were rather ambitious. Have no fear, I approach such lists with a sense of flexibility and full knowledge that I won’t complete everything. They’re really just a way for me to focus my attention, rather than strict goals I  must accomplish or else wallow in despair. They’re also there to help prevent me from casting on all the things which is what I’m tempted to do on a daily basis. This week, I’ve been more-or-less focused on my Cypress vest and am now 3/4 of the way through the knit. The back is done and the front has reached the neckline shaping. Once that is finished there will be blocking, seaming, and then ribbing (which I’m telling myself will be super quick). I’m still harboring hope that I will finish this by my 30th birthday (in <10 days). We shall see, I suppose.

Woolen Diversions

Swatch for Ecclefechan Mitts. Click for pattern page.

 

I also swatched for the Scottish-themed colorwork mitts that I raved about in my yak-yarn-inspired post last Saturday. While the swatch is quite pretty and the pattern is clear, I don’t adore the fabric and know that knitting these mitts would take me forever. I’m inexperienced with colorwork and I’m a thrower, so that means I put down each strand and pick up the next for each different colored stitch. It’s annoying and while the fabric is soft and cushy, it has very little stretch. I don’t like my mitts to be too constricting, so I decided to try my hand at designing a cowl after all.

Woolen Diversions

Indecisive swatch within a swatch.

This yarn really wants to be something lacy and drapey, and I’m picturing lace panels interspersed with some two-color texture. Except I’ve changed my mind about the nature of that texture about a dozen times! The above photo shows some two-color moss stitch with a bit of slipped garter stitch patterning above… I just can’t seem to decide. While I liked the look of the moss stitch just fine, it (again) wasn’t enjoyable for me to knit. I’m doing enough knit/purl alternating on my vest thankyouverymuch and I feel like a bit of a change. This is exactly why I cannot fathom designing something without knitting it myself. My designs have to not only be something beautiful and functional, but they absolutely have to be fun to knit. Making sure both the pattern and actual knitting flow in logical, pleasurable ways is part of the challenge for me. “Fun to knit” means different things to different people, so it’s perhaps not the best design goal, but it’s the closest thing I have to an ‘aesthetic’ at this point so I’m rolling with it.

Woolen Diversions

A small handspun diversion…

Finally, I became a wee bit distracted from my knitting goals when I finished spinning some yarn and decided to conduct a little ply experiment. I will post full details tomorrow, but the short story is I took a bunch of Falkland wool singles and plied them in three slightly different ways, knit three similar swatches from the samples, and analyzed their differences. Stay tuned for results!

 

 

FOFri #34: Double Whammy

You know it’s been a good week when you get to Friday and realize you have crossed off everything on your to-do list. THAT NEVER HAPPENS, GUYS. I’ve even finished things that weren’t on the list! Which is why I have not one but two finished objects to show off today. Although I apologize in advance for the quality of these photos: mornings are dark, the lighting is terrible, and it’s crazy hard to focus a DSLR when it’s on a tripod and you’re a few feet away. (Still learning with my new toy, obviously.)

Wine-y Lucy Hat:

Woolen Diversions

Blurr-tastic! Click for project page.

This hat is my faaaaaaaaaaavorite. Seriously. I love the yarn, the shape, the style, the fit… everything. The pattern is Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer. I really admire Carina’s designs. Her aesthetic aligns perfectly with what I actually want to wear, and her patterns are well-written and usually fun to knit. I’ve made her Regina hat, Whippoorwhill Shawl (which was a bit of a slog because it involved so many stitches but the shape is perfect and I wear it constantly), and no fewer than three Zuzu’s Petals cowls (and I’ve been itching to make another recently).

Woolen Diversions

Pre-finished, but shows the colors well.

I am really happy with my yarn choice for this project, too. I used Verdant Gryphon’s Zaftig (worsted weight 70% superwash Merino / 20% cashmere / 10% nylon), which is a nice round yarn with a soft hand from the cashmere content. The main color is Russian Sage, a nearly-neutral pale lilac, and the contrast is Kiss of Cabernet, a perfect wine color that I’ve been really digging lately. I was imagining the main color as more of a khaki tan, but I think the lilac is light enough to still be worn with a brown-ish outfit without screaming HEY GUYS, LOOK AT MY CLASHING PURPLE HAT, and it coordinates perfectly with outfits on the grey end of the spectrum. (Yes, I really do debate this much over whether or not things match. It’s important! Or OCD.) I will likely knit another of these someday in a different combo, probably involving teal.

Sweet Codex Shawl:

Woolen Diversions

Fringe-tastic! Click for project page.

These perfect skeins of silver Sanguine Gryphon Codex have been waiting to become a shawl for a long time… since 2012!  I waited and waited, changing my mind about a million times, wanting to use it for an intricate lace masterpiece (but having no time to actually knit such a thing). Finally, the need for a grey accessory became overwhelming and I cast on for a simple shawl that I had made before and knew that I loved.

Woolen Diversions

Makes a nice couch cover, too!

The pattern is Sweet November Knit Shawl by Caryl Pierre and it is the ultimate in stylish simplicity. It’s really nothing more than YOs, k2tog, and ssk’s combined with a fun little fringe. It’s epically wearable and looks great in both solid and variegated colorways. It can be knit with basically any weight and amount of yarn. I knit mine on US 10 needles (a bit smaller than called for since Codex is sort of in between DK and worsted weight and is rather slinky from the silk) and continued until I had 223 stitches on the needle (instead of the 171 called for) using less than 460 yards. I bound off on the WS with the recommended stretchy bindoff and added 33 fringes of 4 strands each. The shawl measures 66″ across (I like ’em big!) and 26″ down the center spine, not counting fringe.

Here are some horrible photos of me wearing it. I promise, it looks way better IRL.

I think that taking a little break from my NaKniSweMo project to finish these two accessories was totally worth it, don’t you? Plus, I have a road trip ahead of me this weekend so there should be plenty of knitting time to make up for my non-monogamous transgression (this is why I suck at KALs, y’all). I hope your weeks have been productive, as well, and Happy Friday!

IS #70: Gorgeous Ginkgo

I came across this collection of patterns by yellowcosmo (a.k.a. Connie) a couple of weeks ago and was so floored by its beauty and simplicity, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it!

Copyright yellowcosmo. Click for pattern page.

Isn’t that shawl just gorgeous?! I love how Connie took the single design element of the ginkgo leaf and carried it through her entire collection. In the two-color shawl, it’s a subtle but beautiful insert in the lace edging.

Copyright yellowcosmo. Click for pattern page.

Similarly in the lace scarf, the ginkgo accent flows gently from the surrounding lace stitches.

Copyright yellowcosmo. Click for pattern page.

In the textured cowl, the ginkgo leaf takes on a center-stage, three-dimensional life of its own. (I am almost certainly going to purchase this pattern, if only to figure out exactly how that 3D effect was accomplished!)

Copyright yellowcosmo. Click for pattern page.

And in the stole, the ginkgo motif takes on an a bolder, almost geometric feel against the simple eyelet and stockinette background.

The collection also includes a couple of sweaters, but it was the accessories that really grabbed my attention. I feel like I don’t often come across a collection of patterns that makes such a beautiful, elegant, and unified use of a single motif. I love it.

Photo source: ucmp at Berkeley. Click to visit page.

Fun fact from my evolotionary plant biology class (so many years ago now, sad): Ginkgo biloba is the only living species of an ancient group of gymnosperms (related to conifers like pine trees) dating back hundreds of millions of years to the Permian era. It’s essentially a living fossil (like the horseshoe crab!) and I apparently have a soft spot for such relic species. Plus, its seeds smell like vomit or rancid butter–definitely something rotting–which is a pretty cool trait in the plant world, and an interesting juxtaposition with its refined, classy appearance.

What’s been inspiring you, lately? Let us know in the comments!IS