Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A quick project or two

I've been dying to try Madelinetosh yarns for, well, pretty much ever. So when we went to a little yarn shop in the bay area, I asked my husband to pick out a color he likes for a hat. I picked Tosh DK, and the colorway he picked was called "Pecan Hull." We perused patterns together and he chose Antler, a free pattern by tincanknits.
This pattern was very easy to knit, fun but not too complex, good and portable, and I think it came out really nicely. I did, however, skip the very last repeat when I tried it on his head and it seemed like it was going to be too long. I also doubled up the brim.
The yarn... I have to say I was expecting more from this company. I've just heard SOOOO many good amazing things about it, and I don't feel like it really performed as nicely as it could have. For instance, I crossed a cable incorrectly and I had to drop the stitches to fix that section and the yarn just looked shaggier afterwards. It tried to fray a little bit, and I'm just like, seriously? You're expensive yarn! How can you not endure one simple little frogging of less than 5 rows? But it feels nice and smooshy and it smells good, so... I won't NOT knit with it ever again, but it just wasn't exactly the amazing yarn I was hoping for.

So after I finished my husband's hat (I still don't have a picture of him wearing it unfortunately) I was deciding what WIP to finish next when my son suddenly dropped a request on me. Now, my son loves the fact that I can knit for the sole reason that it means I can create toys for him on a whim in less than a day. He has never asked me for a garment, a hat, a scarf, anything wearable: only toys. So imagine my shock when he says that he wants mittens to wear in the morning at school because his hands get cold. I cast on immediately. (Sorry Penelope- I WANT to finish your coat, but what's the point when you're still hanging out in my tummy anyways and Vyvyan has cold hands!?)
He was thrilled with them. He wore them to school (and didn't lose them, I might add- an amazing feat considering he's 5) and even asked for a matching hat! The pattern is a basic kids mitten pattern, available for free. It was an easy pattern to follow, and they are really a great fit. I used the 4-6 size. I shared this picture on Facebook and my cousin asked if he could have a pair too. He sells handcrafted candles at Apple Hill-basically a big Christmas craft fair- and it gets very cold out there. I'll have to make him a pair asap, because I'm sure he will trade me for a homemade candle and his candles smell GREAT! The yarn is wool-ease, just acrylic and wool. Soft and easy care, perfect for a little one's hands. Now I'm working on his hat- just a basic stockinette beanie out of the matching yarn. After that, I should really get to finishing Penelope's coat. I just don't have any buttons yet, and for some reason rather than finishing knitting the second sleeve and then dealing with the fact that I don't have buttons I just stuffed the whole thing in a bag. I mean, ok we also moved into a new apartment and maybe I don't exactly know where it is. And not to mention I'm 38 weeks pregnant and I just don't feel like digging around tight spaces looking for it. But after the hat, I'll look for the coat and finish it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A baby coat

I've had this pattern, Baby Tiered Coat and Jacket in my queue forever, yet after 7 new nieces I still never bought the pattern. Now that I'm 33 weeks pregnant and finally purchased the pattern and started working on it. The pattern is simple, the design is adorable, and I am almost mad at myself for not buying it earlier and making one for each of those nieces. The only thing keeping me from feeling mad is the fact that 100% of those nieces were born in summer.
So I bought the yarn at an adorable LYS in San Mateo, CA on October 10th. 3 skeins Cascade 128 superwash, knowing that since I'm making the smallest size (0-3 months) I will very likely only need 2, but getting that extra ball as insurance. Wound the wool on October 11th and then finally cast on for the neck on October 12th. I knit the collar through separating for the underarms in one go as my husband napped nearby.
I got tired of sitting, and took a 30 minute walk. When I got back my husband had woken and we decided to watch a movie.
During the movie (Tremors 5, which has a 99 minute run-time and was totally worth it) I almost completed the body.
At which point I put it aside and went to sleep.
Today was busy- on the go for most of the day and when I finally was able to sit down and would have had ample time to knit, my hands and feet were swollen and it was all I could do to just sit on the couch with my legs elevated. I did manage to knit one sleeve and after that I weaved in all of the loose ends that had added up, which means I'll only have two ends to weave in later.
That small ball of yarn in the corner is all that is left of the second skein so rather than deal with an extra set of ends to weave in I just wound up the third ball and will knit the second sleeve with that. I plan on using the leftovers to make a little matching hat and maybe little booties too if I can find a good pattern for it. I swear that if I wasn't pregnant, I would have had this done already! But then again if I wasn't pregnant, I wouldn't be knitting this to begin with...
In other news, I have an ultrasound on Thursday, during which I really hope they don't tell me they were wrong about the gender. Because this little coat is too freaking cute for me to find out I'm having another boy after all!
Oh well. I still need to find some buttons, too.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Finished Object: Etude In Stripes Cardigan

I finally finished my sweater, 5 days too late to enter it into the KAL I was thinking of entering it in. (Knitting Expat's September KAL)

Oh well.

It is loose but still cute, slouchy but not too slobby, big enough to wrap around my entire baby belly (I'm thinking once I have the baby it will look cute belted), and most importantly incredibly amazingly excruciatingly warm.

I am the first one in my house to feel the cold- my husband likes sleeping with the fan on year-round, and I like snuggling under the covers even in the summer. During the winter I try not to stray too far from the fireplace, and will often wear MANY layers- a cami, a fitted tee, a long sleeve shirt, a larger shirt, a light sweater, and a jacket on top sounds great to me and that's in my backyard in California. Let's not even entertain the possibility of going to the snow! This sweater will probably cut out the need for like at least half of my layers, it is so warm.

The alpaca does shed a little, and the contrasting color is actually a mohair blend as it turns out so that sheds a little bit too, and it's not itchy which is a relief. In the photos I'm wearing only a spaghetti strap under it and it feels surprisingly comfortable.

My favorite thing about this sweater is that it was made with 100% stash yarn! That is a great feeling, for sure. I can't wait to pick out my next project. Something about my life now (probably how busy I am!) has transformed me into a mostly monogamous knitter, which is very different for me but also really cool because it seems like things get finished faster. I'm sort of torn between something else for the baby (I have some beautiful purple Simply Soft that I could use), a Plum Blossom Tee for which I have the pattern and yarn already but which simply won't fit until far into next year and why even work on a tee when it's going to be winter!?, or something using my giant pile of Cascade Ecological Wool, or maybe using up the thick black cotton that I bought ages ago which is the softest thing on the planet and wants to be a sweater which would be boring to knit but great to wear. I'm just not sure what project will jump out at me, but either way I have to weave in the ends to my sweater first!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cardigan Progress

I thought I'd share my failure so far.

1) Knitted a sleeve for about seven inches, tried it on and was shocked to find it was far, far too wide.
I fought with myself for a little while, but ultimately decided it was time to frog.

2) Started the sleeve again this time completely ignoring the instructions and decreasing much sooner and much more frequently.
It looked a lot better upon trying it on so I decided to keep going and worked all the way down to the color change before putting it away for the day.

3) Finished the first sleeve and tried it on yet again, only to find that it was actually STILL pretty freaking huge, and the fact that it seemed so much improved probably reflected more upon the fact that the first attempt was ginormous than that the second was actually decent. I stared at myself in the mirror thinking, "I could deal with it... no I can't. Yes I can. No I can't."

I told myself, "It's supposed to be an oversize sweater! I imagine myself wearing it in Apple Hill, with leggings and boots- oversized is good!" and I responded with, "IT IS SAGGING AT THE PITS! THIS IS NOT OVERSIZE- THIS IS JUST NOT COOL!" And I replied with, "Well, I'm sewing up the sleeve seams, and I'm going to tuck in the excess fabric and we'll see. If it's still terrible we can frog it, and if it's decent, it's decent and I can start the second sleeve."


4) I'm starting the second sleeve- I managed to tuck in the excess fabric quite nicely and you can no longer tell that it once sagged at the pits and was not cool at all. Of course, with my luck I will knit the second sleeve, sew it up, finish the body, work the border, try on the completed garment and then... decide to reknit the sleeves again! Fingers crossed that it won't happen, but we shall see.

As a side note I rather like the Filatura Di Crossa multicolored alpaca blend that I'm using as the contrasting color. I think it will be rather nice once it's all tied in together with a border at both sleeves, on the body, and the border band. More pictures upon more progress.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Little Lion

Well I finished crocheting the lion my son requested.
It's adorable and all, but he said that it's fat, like me. I'm getting more hugely pregnant day by day so I guess he's right.
I did get work done on the sweater, as well but it's not really enough to share a picture of. I knitted half the sleeve, realized it was too wide, and frogged and reknit with fewer stitches. I'm almost done with the first sleeve and after both sleeves are done I'll share a picture again. I have ascertained that I will not run out of yarn. So that's a plus!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

a bit of diversion...

Yesterday I felt like working on something new. The sweater had been progressing pretty steadily (I've started one of the arms and it's perfect for working on while doing homework) but I felt like doing something that requires a bit more concentration.
My son, meanwhile, has been asking me at night to "read" to him from a crochet pattern book called "Easy Crochet Critters". Of course we don't really read anything, we just look at the pictures while he tells me which ones he wants the most, and we decide what color each critter would ideally be. I've been telling him nightly that the reason I can't make any critters is that I don't have any fiberfill, but today I realized I DO have fiberfill that has been hiding in a closet. So, the sweater sat in its bag while the two of us watched The Hobbit trilogy and I worked on some animals for him.
The yarn varies. The alligator is made of Hobby Lobby I Love This Cotton, the monkey is made of Red Heart Super Saver, and the hippo is made with Lion Brand Wool-Ease. If I had to guess I would say each one took 2 to 3 hours total to complete. This morning when I woke up, he had found me some yellow and orange yarn and said that the monkey, alligator, and hippo were "waiting for their friend, the lion." So he's probably next in line.
One thing I really like about being able to crochet as well as knit is that I get the satisfaction of casting on new projects without really feeling like I'm "cheating" on my knitting.
Either way, I still fully expect my sweater to be done within the next few weeks.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Is there a nice way to say "boring"?

I separated for the sleeves the day after I last updated here on the blog. Now it's just that boring back and forth of cardigans. It will be about 38" around, so it's got more ease for me than a usual sweater would. I would usually have gone for a 34" or a 36" if I wanted it roomy. However, with pregnancy comes a larger bustline as well as a larger waistline, so 38" it is. It sure won't close over my belly, in a few weeks' time, but I'm hoping it will get more wear at 38" around.

It's just so boring though, seriously. No cables, no color, no fun. All I can do is keep plugging along until I get to the point where I can add the second color of yarn. I have this, like, weird multi color alpaca blend that is very similar in texture and washability so I will use that for the border. I'll have to upload a picture soon. The only thing is I'm really not sure I'm going to have enough yarn to get it to the length I want before the border. THAT is concerning. Very much yarn chicken. I don't like yarn chicken. I had 5 skeins of this yarn to begin with, back in the day. That's 1075 yards, which definitely isn't enough for a whole cardigan. But is it enough for a whole cardigan minus 5.5 inches per sleeve and bottom border plus button band? Maybe.... I hope so, anyway. I already decided I'm going to knit this whole puppy out of stash yarn, so I don't know what solution I'll come up with if it turns out a bit short. Probably just add yet another funky color in there. I do have a dark blue alpaca, but I don't think it will mesh well. We shall see.

All I know is this is one of those projects where you just.... really want it to be a finished object, but you really don't want to put in the effort to make it into one. Like, provided the yarn issues work out, this will be a very wearable cardigan! But it sure isn't a very fun one to create. It does fit so far, though, so that makes me happy!

Hopefully my readers are having more fun with their own knitting and I don't expect to update you any more with this one until it's done or at least nearly done. Or at least NOT just a brown blob.