Friday, September 16, 2016

I didn't need it, but...

Madagascan Sunset Moth
I broke my nearly four-month-long yarn fast for these beauties.

The yarn is Mithril from the Verdant Gryphon. It's a lovely laceweight merino, plied tightly enough to have some body but not so tightly that it loses its softness. One of my favorite yarns.

The color is Madagascan Sunset Moth. I already had one skein of it in my stash, so when I saw these skeins pop up at a discount, I grabbed them. Well, no, that's not true. I didn't want to break my streak of not-buying yarn, so I thought about it for over a week before finally deciding to which point there were only two skeins remaining of the original three. So I guess I only needed two. I was lucky to get any!

Madagascan Sunset Moth
This is my existing skein of the same color in the same base. Looks a little different, doesn't it? It isn't unusual for hand-dyed yarns to vary from batch to batch, but this is a really big difference! It probably reflects the change in ownership and management at the Verdant Gryphon.

I don't mind, really; I'll just treat them as two different colors. They're all gorgeous!

Madagascan Sunset Moth

I also have Madagascan Sunset Moth from VG on Traveller, a DK weight base. Looks like a cross between the the first two. I'd like to use this in a textured stitch pattern for the yoke on a solid color (maybe gray?) stockinette stitch cardigan. I just have to choose the solid color, buy it, and design the sweater! I'll get to it one of these days.

Madagascan Sunset Moth

Here's a real Madagascan Sunset Moth, in case you were wondering. (I was wondering.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

quick, cute, conflicted

C's Tee
This is the last thing I finished before my Summer of Not Knitting: a sweet little top for my small friend Cecilia, who loves wearing handknits made especially for her.

The pattern is Alice Tee by Helen Rose, and the yarn is (of course) Wollmeise Pure in the mindblowing Rittersporn (Delphinium) colorway. I'd heard people rave about this color but hadn't seen it in person until I got this skein. The camera does not do it justice. It seems to glow with its own purple-y inner light.

It was a quick knit and a well-written pattern (although of course I made some modifications, because patterns are made to be ignored adapted).*

Cute, isn't it? Except I hated it. I hated it and I was on a deadline: Cecilia's new sibling was due within days, and I needed to get a package posted off to England for them.

But even after blocking, this piece curled and curled, at the hem and even at the sleeve cuffs. (Look at those tiny sleeves! There isn't enough cuff to curl! But they were curling.) Curliest damned stockinette stitch I have ever encountered.

glowing with its own
purple-y inner light
yep, the sleeves are still curling it's gorgeous!

I knew it needed a good steaming and possibly some bias tape sewn in, but my itis-y elbow precluded precision hand-sewing and it was HOT for ironing. Who wants to wield steam when it's 90+ degrees? (I've mentioned our record-breaking Long Hot Summer in a previous post, but I'll say it again: it was a scarily persistent hot, dry summer and I found it difficult to bear.)

So I tossed it aside for more than a month...and I felt anxious and annoyed every time I looked at it. Then I covered it up so I couldn't see it, which helped.

I didn't get to finish steaming 
Finally, on one of the hotter days of this hot summer (did I mention it was hot?), I broke down and fired up the iron, then started steaming those damned curly edges. It was immensely satisfying to watch them submit. I went over the hem two or three times, then started on the sleeves...and suddenly noticed a distinct lack of steam. No steam, no pleasant whooshing noise, no evocative hot-iron smell, and very little heat. I touched the sole plate and did not get burned (please don't try this at home). The heat of the day must have been too much for it. My iron had expired.

But it was enough. C's curly tee was redeemed! I loved it again and I loved the whole world with it (besides, I'd been wanting a new iron). I slapped it on a hanger and ventured out into the glaring sunshine of climate apocalypse to take a few photos.

Cecilia loves it.

*For Knitters Only: I changed the increases to be more noticeable (more decorative) in the yoke section and less noticeable in the body (going down either side of the lace "placket"). I can't remember the actual increases I used, though, and sadly I did not make notes at the time.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Reunited and it feels so gooooood!

My knitting and I are back together and everything is gonna be all right! It was a long hot summer here in Rochester, and without my sweet stitches to hold it all together, I felt every record-setting minute of it.

My elbow is still not 100%, so I'm trying to limit the knitting to every other day...but I am knitting and life is good. I feel almost like myself again. I don't know if it was the not-knitting or the bizarre weather, but this summer flirted with the surreal and I am glad to see it gone. Funny how a couple of sticks and a 100-gram ball of wool can keep you grounded.

ginormous laceweight cardigan = many teeny stitches
I've been grounded under considerably more than 100 grams of wool with my current project, though, which hasn't been entirely pleasant given the crazy temperatures. (90 degrees in September? In Rochester? Crazy.) Finally, I'm making some real progress on the Ginormous Cardigan on Teeny Needles.

You may remember me enthusing about this piece last June when I brought it out of hibernation. The poor thing had to be set aside for yet another couple of months because of my elbow, but now it's back in hand and taking shape. Since I took this pic, I've finished the back, joined the shoulders, and started the left sleeve. I may actually finish it one day!

I have five skeins in this colorway and no two of them match, so I've been changing skeins at random intervals throughout. I like the distressed effect.

Knitting optimist that I am, I'm already looking forward to wearing it this fall. Think good thoughts for my elbow so I can keep on knitting!

Edited to add: Gave myself an earworm with that title. Regretting it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

some knitting gives you tendinitis in your elbow

It isn't the fast knitting or the slow knitting that gives me tendinitis; I think it's the lace knitting. Or maybe it isn't knitting at all; maybe it's the computer mouse. Yeah, that's it. It's the mouse! If only it were the mouse. But now that my elbow is all itis-ed, the cause doesn't really matter. Everything aggravates it, including knitting.

So I'm not knitting.

Not-knitting is an uncomfortable state for a knitter. Knitting is my joy and my solace. Knitting is my meditation practice. Without knitting, I just don't feel like me.  Besides, that Ginormous Sweater on Teeny Needles isn't going to knit itself. And I have all these great project ideas clamoring for needle time. It's keeping me awake at night! or maybe that's the pain in my elbow.

Not-knitting, like grief, comes in stages. I've passed through denial (there's no denying it hurts), and moved directly to bargaining. The current bargain goes like this: if I mouse left-handed all day, I can knit for a half hour or so in the evening. Which might be okay, if I didn't lose the ability to tell time whenever I pick up yarn and needles. My conservative bedtime has suddenly become less conservative...and my elbow isn't getting better.

So tonight I'm blogging instead of knitting. I think it's working: I'm putting myself to sleep. Hey! my elbow feels better already.

I'm sure it'll be fine tomorrow.

Monday, July 4, 2016

some knitting is fast

Some knitting is fast. After finishing a huge slooooow piece, and/or while working on the next one, I like to knit something speedy. (Or do I knit it speedily? Whatever. The thing gets made from the yarn, and it doesn't take a long time.)

I usually say I'm a process knitter, because it's all about the yarn and the soothing trance state of making the stitches...but I'm really quite fond of the product too. I like to take pretty pictures of the pretty things and then look at them a lot.

So this time I knitted a baby sweater. It was very fast. Less than a week of knitting days.

The pattern is Emme's Cables. The yarn is Wollmeise Pure in the eye-searing color Dornröschen (a personal favorite). Such a fun knit! I can see more of these in my future. They're fast.

The recipient hasn't joined us yet. I can't wait to meet her/him!

Note to knitters: I changed the cable crossings for a more pleasing flow. Details on my Ravelry project page.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

some knitting is slow

Some knitting is slow. Oversize cardigans for plus-size me in laceweight yarn on teeny needles, just for example, are SLOW.

Like this one. Kate Davies' Firth O' Forth in Verdant Gryphon Mithril lace, in the coveted colorway Blowfly. (Blowfly used to be available only one day a year, in a special sale on New Year's Eve, and two years ago I was lucky enough to grab four precious skeins on laceweight.)

It's going to be amazing. Someday.

I have this much done:
almost looks like it could be a sweater some day!

Actually, I've added a couple more inches since that photo, but ohmygoodness it grows
s  l  o  w  l  y. Still, it's lovely relaxing knitting and the play of color across my stitches is deeply satisfying.

this is what a soul-destroying cast on looks like

This is what it looked like at the very beginning, after I cast on 462 stitches.
(No, that's not a typo; I really did cast on four hundred and sixty-two stitches.)

But after making three big swatches, the interminable cast on, the bottom band in garter stitch, and a couple of repeats of (finally!) the lace pattern, it was only this big:

only this and nothing more

. . . and I lost the will to live and put it into hibernation for 14 months.

But now it's out again and I love it and have forgiven it everything. I may not finish this baby before I'm 70, but right now it's my favorite project! Perfect for knitting outdoors while enjoying the summer air in my lovely leafy garden.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

even I can't believe I finished it

The big blue lacy thing with beads (and beads, and beads) is done!

I probably shouldn't write about how I hate the white edging (should have made the edging one or two rows wider for the white to work) or how it's so freaking enormous that I'll never wear it (I'm barely 5' 1" and really should have known better), but now that I've typed it out, I'm gonna leave it here.

It's a beautiful piece and I thoroughly enjoyed the knitting. Now I need to find it a good home.

May is for Birding

Yes I know, I disappeared for the entire month of May. And here I was doing so well with this blog! But May is the height of spring migration around here, which means birds, birds, birds. There is nothing I like better than slogging through muddy woods in early spring, looking at birds. I was out there every day, in all sorts of weather, watching springtime creep slowly over the landscape and looking at birds. I live along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, which is a great spot to see birds during spring migration. They stop right here to rest and refuel before heading out over the lake, so we get to see a lot of them!

We had a slow, cold start to the season and never did get the southerly winds that usually bring the migrants in; just lots of north winds off the lake. They came anyway, out of order and in odd combinations, but they came. I'm a new birder, and I’ve seen 123 species so far this year, including 24 species of warbler, all within a 30-minute drive from my house! I was also fortunate to be out at the hawk watch on a 10,000-bird day. That was pretty spectacular (although they usually have a couple of 30,000-bird days per season, which I find unimaginable).
Actually, I don't have to go far at all to see a lot of birds. For a few weeks every May, the trees in my yard are filled with warblers. This year I’ve had black-throated blue, black-throated green, black-and-white, Blackburnian, northern parula, chestnut-sided, bay-breasted, yellow-rumped, palm, pine, Nashville and Tennessee warblers in my trees, feasting on insects and singing their distinctive songs. I had a Blackburnian warbler drinking from my birdbath!
Now it's June. Summer is upon us and migration is over. The trees are in full leaf and it's harder to see the birds. But they're still there. You can hear them; if you pay attention, you can see them. Birds are everywhere, busily gathering food to feed their young; busily preparing the next generation for the long flight south. I'm planning to make my list a whole lot longer before the month is out.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

the perfect pink

A friend sent me a surprise package with a skein of the most perfect pink yarn EVER. It's the coveted limited-edition Rosenquarz colorway from Wollmeise. I never thought I'd get my hands on it! 

Thanks Åsa!!

I had to wear it right away--sometimes knitting takes too long :)

and while we're on the subject of pink:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

getting started: birth of a Big Lacy Thing with Beads

I started with the enchanted and enchanting belly button cast on. Well, no, I started with the dreaded disappearing loop cast on, but after working it seven or eight times with unsatisfactory results, I decided to stop tormenting myself and switched to the belly button. I think I've learned my lesson. I'll do the belly button first from now on.

the perfect purple belly button

For the uninitiated, this piece is started from the middle and worked outward. "Casting on" is what you do to get those first stitches onto the needles. When you start from the center, you start with a very few stitches arranged around four double-pointed needles, and use a fifth needle to work them. All of this is managed with two hands. And now I feel some math coming on....

Five needles > two hands, and when you factor in fine yarn, tiny stitches, and skinny little needles that slide out of the tiny stitches, the end result = language I wouldn't share with my mother.

sad, sad disappearing loop cast on heard all the bad words

The belly button solves all this. You use a nice  heavy yarn, get it started on just two needles, then work in the round for a few rows 'til you have a nice firm tube as a foundation. Then change to your project yarn, leaving the end hanging, and just keep going. You remove the belly button later and tighten up the central stitches with that dangling free end. Voilà! A perfect in-the-round cast on.  I love the belly button.

deceptively fast at first
Progress seemed fast at first. I zoomed around that central star, placing my oh-so-carefully chosen beads as I went. Then I put stitches on hold on three sides of the central star while I worked double leaf motifs back and forth going out to the side, until I had a total of fifteen (including the central ones). For the sake of symmetry, I repeated the process on the opposite side. At about the fourth repeat on the second side, I realized it would have looked just as symmetrical with three or four fewer repeats, but there was no turning back. Besides, fewer repeats would make a shorter stole, and I want to be able to wrap it around my ampleness a couple of times.

a zoomed-out view. 15 sets of leaves on each side may be excessive

But now it's a few days later. I've finished all the pesky leaf motifs and moved on with my life. I picked up nearly 500 stitches (yes, that's a five followed by two zeros) along the long, long, 15-motifs-long side pieces, scooped up the live stitches waiting on the sides of the central star, and now I'm knitting this whole long skinny rectangle in the round! Of course, a long skinny rectangle is a far cry from a circle, so this presents its own set of challenges (no bad language was required), but now that I'm 10 rows in, it's getting easier...and I have a beautiful blue baguette to show you.

blue baguette

Yeah, I know, it doesn't look like much. The thing with lace is that it requires blocking to be at its best. Blocking is done to almost all knitting after it's finished. It involves soaking the item in water, then stretching it gently to the desired shape and size. With lace knitting, the stretching is not gentle. You pull on it in every direction until it can't possibly be pulled any more, then pin it down and let it dry. It's a near-miraculous transformation. But for now, we're going to be deliriously happy with the beaded blue baguette.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

decisions decisions

I decided to make another Big Lacy Thing with Beads.

I dunno why; I am not a lacy kind of girl. But I love knitting big lacy things with beads. And they're having a Round & Holey KAL on one of my Ravelry groups. KAL = Knit-A-Long (and yes, I do need to get to work on that glossary of Knitting Terms for the Uninitiated). Round means it's knitted in the round (although it doesn't have to end up round--it might be square, or a rectangle, or any other shape on the spectrum between circle and not-a-circle). Holey means it has holes in it; in other words, lace. I do love to knit lace. Too bad I hate wearing it. Oh well. Big lacy things with beads make awfully pretty gifts.

I chose the yarn easily enough. I've had it for a while, waiting for the perfect project. It's blue. Specifically, Himmelblau. Possibly the prettiest blue on the planet. Certainly the perfect blue for early spring when we are starved for true-blue skies.

The pattern is Amillë, by Emily Ross. It's a looooong rectangle, knitted mostly in the round. I may actually wear this one--it looks nicely scarf-shaped. Wrapping it around a couple times tends to neutralize the laciness.

Then I had to pick the beads. This part took a little longer. Teeny beads or bigger beads? Sparkly or matte? Clear or blue or light green or dark green or purple or dark purple with a rainbow-y coating or pearl or bronze or gold? I have a significant stash of beads, so I restricted myself to beads already in my possession...which meant I couldn't use the tiny bright silver ones I was already picturing. *Sigh* But when you have stash, you must work from stash. And man, do I have stash. (Bead stash, that is. Bead stash. Well, and yarn stash too. I have, um, epic yarn stash. And fabric, but there's no need to get all confessional in here.)

pretty picture of a few of  the beads
pretty picture of a few more 
the bead drawer isn't that pretty
particularly enjoyable fish button

I couldn't just go through my bead drawer, because my bead drawer had been overwhelmed by buttons (somewhere along the line I thought it was a good idea to start a button stash, too). I had to pick all 796563 buttons out of the bead drawer, sort them by size and color, put them in ziploc bags, and find them their own little storage bin.

I particularly liked the fish buttons. I left one out so I could enjoy its little fishy face.

And then, at long last, I started stringing beads on my yarn to see how I liked them. Funny thing happened...I liked all of them. I strung increasingly unlikely colors...and I liked them too! Clearly, this was developing into a situation. Indecision does not suit me. I decided to wait until daylight.

daylight photo of all the pretty beads on the heavenly blue yarn

It would be fun to draw this out longer, but that would be deceptive. I never exaggerate. In the cold light of day, it was easy enough to make my choice. Fifth from the right, tiny silvery gray beads. (Of course, I don't actually have enough of them and they are no longer available, but whatever. When I have to choose a complement, I'll blog about it again.)

Watch this space for updates on the Big Blue Lacy Thing With Beads.

Friday, March 18, 2016

I'm sorry, Spellcheck, but 'pompom' really IS all one word

The pompoms from my latest hat are so cute and such a source of maker's pride that I decided they deserved their own post . While writing it, I nearly yielded to my spellchecker's insistence that pompom should be written as two separate poms. But social media has taught me skepticism, so I hopped over to before I made any changes. Hah! Pompom it is and shall remain! (Unless I feel fancy and go with the equally correct pompon.)

Now that I'm done arguing with my computer, I bring you the happy little yarn puffs:

happy little yarn puffs

I planned to blog about the poms before I blogged about the hat, but life intervened, and now the whole process post idea seems a bit drab.  Suffice it to say I learned three things:

1. Pompoms use a LOT of yarn.

2. Pompoms do not grow back, so one must take care with the scissors when trimming them to shape. 
Corollary: Sometimes a flat spot is best ignored.

3. Pompoms can make a heckuva mess. Trim them in an easily swept-up spot.  
Corollary: Do not not trim over your computer keyboard, your contrasting-color wool sweater, or your lunch. 

Note: The pompoms, while delightfully plump and plush, are now measurably smaller than they were in the photo above.

you don't want this in your lunch

I really can't wait to make pompoms again!

bluebird on my head

I wanted another hat. This desire fell well outside my recent hat obsession (no really, it did!), because this was a specific hat-want. I wanted a lightweight-but-not-too-light hat, for springtime birding and dog-walking.

I have several much-loved hats in my collection, but all of them are designed for cold weather. This hat would be for chilly weather, transitional weather, the kind of weather where you can go without a coat if you wear the right sort of hat.

I wanted it to sit lightly on my head--no squeezing--to minimize sweating and to avoid smooshing my hair, because this hat is likely to be taken off as the day warms up. An earflap hat seemed the perfect solution. Earflaps warm the ears without having to pull the hat way way down on the forehead, and the hat can fit loosely because the flaps and strings act as counterweight, employing gravity (rather than squeezing) to hold it on the head.  Yes! Light but not too light--probably sport weight. (Fingering weight would be too light.) And cute! It had to be cute as well as functional.  Cables seemed the obvious choice, since colorwork with its double layers would be too warm, and lace has holes, which I've always thought a poor choice for a hat.

Sport weight (which I achieved by holding heavy lace weight double).
Earflaps (with nice long strings ending in pompoms, for even more counterweight).
Cables (really cool organic-looking cables, with even more mini-cables worked into the ribbing).
Turquoise (this wasn't an official criterion, but I only ever seem to wear the turquoise hats).

And this is the hat!---------------->

The pattern is Into Trees by Hanna Maciejewska. I had to make some modifications, of course, because I can't leave a pattern alone loved the look of the hat but not the intended tight fit. The pattern is written with 3 1/2 inches of negative ease, and I just didn't want a hat that squeezy (but I must call down many, many blessings on this designer for including that information in her pattern description!). I simply knitted one size larger than I needed, opened up the gauge just slightly, and I had the perfect hat! I also made it shorter than the pattern, because I didn't want a slouchy top to pull it backwards off my head.

The yarn is Posh Yarn Lucia Heavy Lace, held double to approximate sport weight. Posh Yarn is fabulous luxury yarn from indie dyers Dee and Tony Bamford. Every color is one of a kind, the bases are superb, and it's hard not to buy them all. This color is called Bluebird.
If you would like to know more about the pompoms (c'mon, you know you do!), you may read about them in their very own post.

I love this hat!!!  I've already worn it three times.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

drumroll, please

aaaand.....glamour shots!

The pattern is non troppo wrap by Åsa Tricosa.  The darker yarn is Wollemeise Lace-garn in Petit Posion Dark WD--the second half of  my very first skein of Wollmeise! The lighter yarn is Posh Yarn Chloe. Chloe has lovely silver sparkles, but they don't show up in photos.