Saturday, June 23, 2018

I'm Back from Vacation!

I had such a good time going camping. I packed no less than seven projects to work on.
1) the Orchid and Fairy Lights hat, which I completed on the way to the campsite
2) my Akiko cardigan
3) my Plum Blossom Tee, which I haven't cast on yet
4) some acrylic yarn to teach my 8 year old niece to crochet with
5) some socks
6) a shawl
7) a slipper project

So... I had a lot less knitting time than I had anticipated. We spend a lot of the time at the lake, swimming. So the only thing I actually finished was the Orchid and Fairy Lights hat which, surprisingly, fit my niece perfectly and I might end up giving it to her for Christmas. The color just looks so good on her, and the slouch is just right. I didn't get a photo of that project because I have been absolutely obsessed with my most recent project:

I'm using the Cascade Quatro I found at the thrift shop last December, as well as some scrap worsted yarn to make an oversized, drop shoulder sweater with a fox on it. Why? Why NOT I ask you?

Well, actually there was a legitimate reason why I chose to do intarsia for this project. The yarn was from the thrift store and was already wound. There were 5 balls, which would be 1100 yards which would be just enough for me to squeak out a 42" pullover. However, I don't know if the yarn's previous owner used some of the yarn. They SEEMED like full skeins, but out of cautiousness I decided to put something on the sweater. At first I thought maybe I would knit some giant lips on it, think Rocky Horror Picture Show. I also considered a big pair of cat-eye glasses, but that wouldn't really take up enough space. I really, truly wanted to knit a big fat cheeseburger on the sweater too. But I unfortunately don't have any proper cheeseburger colors in stash, and for something like that you really need accuracy. And it's my year of Cold Sheep, so I can't buy any yarn. I looked in the stash and found my old Camelino in this perfect orangey color and thought I might knit a fox.

I found a different chart first, with two adorable foxes snuggled up together. Unfortunately I was unable to make that chart work. So I have this lonely fox instead. I do wish I had added in some cat-eye glasses for it to wear!

And yes my fox is missing its eyes. I'll duplicate stitch them in later. This project is going to be for the colors of fall 2018 knitalong. I cannot wait to finish it. Seriously. Even though it is definitely deliberately going to be super dorky. I'm excited.

I'm going to go binge watch netflix and knit now. Hope you get a chance to do the same! (ps it is 105 degrees F in my town right now, and I'm knitting a wool sweater. That's dedication to the craft!!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Finished Object- Textured (or not) Pullover

I am so pleased with my most recent finished object.
I finally seamed it all together and took photos on June 8th. In my part of California it has been quite toasty out, and so I had to take two sets of photos after I realized only a crazy person wears shorts with a sweater...oops.
The yarn is something I found super cheap at Big Lots in 2014. I believe I bought 10 balls at the time, because I like to take advantage of cheap yarn and apparently I thought my husband was a lot larger than he actually is. In 2014 I knit myself a hat and cowl, a saddle-shoulder sweater for my husband, a raglan pullover for my son and still had yarn left over. The yarn was enough to make this gorgeous pullover in a comfortable size for my mom. I think I'm finally mostly out of this yarn, which is great because I'm super sick of looking down and seeing endless swathes of stockinette fabric in this color.

The yarn is called Canan Baby Soft. A few ladies at my knit group asked, "are you sure it's canon and not caron? Caron is a yarn brand!" Nope- definitely Canan. It's 100% sport-weight acrylic which means my mom can wash and dry with no fear of felting, and it's actually incredibly amazingly soft. I actually really like this yarn's feel against my skin, which is impressive when you consider the fact that I paid $2.50 for a ball for 363 yards. I used size 4 needles for all of the sweaters I made, which meant that I only swatched once, which was the initial cowl I made. My gauge actually did stay the same over the last 4 years.

This pattern is by Amy Herzog and is called Textured (Or Not). Not only did I choose not to add the texture, but I also skipped the waist shaping. Although this pullover looks fitted and flattering on me-a fact that makes me very loathe to package it up and store it until Christmas- it will fit my mom with more ease and will be very easy for her to wear.

The only interesting thing I might add about this project is that I knitted each knit row with a size 4 but purled each purl row with a size 2. This was to compensate for my loose purl gauge and ever since I figured out this little trick it has completely minimized the "rowing out" that comes with stockinette projects knit flat for me. I would definitely recommend trying it if you struggle with getting your tension correct when knitting flat. I have also had success consciously purling tightly, but one can only be deliberate for so long before one slips back into old habits.

I am feeling quite in love with the idea of owning a simple plain pullover like this one. But not so in love with the idea of knitting another one! Right now I am preparing for a 4 day camping trip with my dad to celebrate both my birthday (30!!) and father's day and I'm having lots of fun packing yarns and projects.

I plan on casting on a shawl out of Malabrigo Sock in colorway Lotus. It's beautiful, beautiful yarn ranging from purples to blues and I think it will look super delicious in something simple like garter stitch. I'm looking forward to that project for simple social knitting.

I also plan on knitting on my Akiko cardigan on the way up to and home from the campsite- it is about 4 hours away from home and I am grateful to say that my husband is always happy to do the driving.

I might bring some socks to work on because, well, obviously one needs at least three projects.

I've got a little bit of time to finish my Orchids and Fairy Lights hat that I cast on last week and entirely expected to have done by now. Once the hat is done, I'm planning on starting my Plum Blossom Tee (finally.) I actually printed out the pattern so that I don't have to rely on internet or my phone. No service and no electricity! I'm excited for that freeing idea!

The hat is made of Valley Yarn's Haydenville left over from my textured make-it-up-as-you-go pullover.  I'm so sad to say that the pullover in question has met an unfortunate accident with a cup of coffee and due to the light (beautifully light) color, has stained in the front. I adored wearing that sweater, and the yarn held up to machine washing and drying very wonderfully. I think I will knit another sweater with this same yarn in perhaps a darker color. Still, for a hat, this yarn will do wonderfully. I think this hat is going to be a little bit on the smaller side, because I didn't swatch, but as it is a charity hat I'm sure it will keep someone warm and that's all that matters.

So before I log off and you go back to your day I wonder if I might brush on a slightly different topic... As I mentioned before I've been listening to the Yarniacs podcast at work (I feel I must insert again that it doesn't interfere with my work at all as I just do repetitive heavy lifting) and I just had this thought come to me yesterday about self-worth and knitting. I know that recently Gail from the Yarniacs acknowledged that she suffers from depression- an affliction I too have experienced as most of you may know. I guess I was just thinking about yarn, and Stitches West and the knitting community, and blogs, and photos, and sharing finished objects, and this whole separate existence I have as a knitter. Even in my most awful depressions, I have usually been able to churn the needles and make that magic out of yarn. There have been times where it felt pointless to knit and times where I derived no enjoyment from it. In the most recent episode I put the needles away for a while and sought professional help. But still, in spite of all the things going on in my life, there is knitting and it tends to soothe my soul. One day I was at school knitting on a part of the blue pullover and a classmate looked over and said, "Do you like doing that?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "That's weird," then watched for a few more moments before resuming attention to the teacher. I started to think, "is it weird?" Is it weird that I feel accomplished by taking something that is nothing and making it into something? That I have the ability to draw up a vision of what I would like to create, and then tweak that idea and work on that idea until I've created something I feel proud of? Even if I just follow someone else's instructions exactly doesn't it feel nice to know that I did it right? That it came out just like I planned? That I'm in control of SOMETHING! I thought too about how people have different roles in the world. Perhaps an accountant, or a police officer, or a teacher- and yet they may all go home and work on a few rows. And the Yarniacs- just these two friends who decided to start recording their plans and ambitions and their finished objects, their trials and tribulations and all of the wonderful decision-making processes that go into each project- they have become somewhat of knitting celebrities. These are people who have worth in our community! They provide wonderful entertainment, camaraderie in their ravelry group, and bring people together. Just by talking about their knitting! So, you know, I don't think it's weird. I think knitting is part of my identity, and the skills I've learned from knitting (both technical skills and the less technical such as patience and making sure you read the directions fully before you start something) have helped develop my sense of self-worth in this world. And that's pretty wonderful.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Work in Progress Wednesday

I'm apparently really bad at finishing projects.
Instead of dutifully seaming up my mom's pullover and then monogamously working on my new Akida cardigan, I cast on for a pair of socks.

This is knit with yarn from the stash (of course, since I'm still not buying yarn even though it's only like 10 days away from my birthday and I totally deserve yarn) called Serenity. This fingering weight wool/nylon/rayon blend is pretty soft, and it's been sitting in my stash for at least 9 years. An old boyfriend actually bought this for me so that I could knit him a dice bag, and I cast on for the dice bag with size 000 needles and immediately lost my will to live. The yarn was set aside, the boyfriend became an ex, and I hadn't really known what to make out of it until recently when a third ball, the black, was added to my stash. I made my husband a pair of socks with this same yarn and I bought three balls but only ended up using 2. I decided to stripe it with the old green and brown and gift this pair of socks to my brother who wholeheartedly deserves a pair of socks.

And then I felt guilty, of course, and so I did pull out the stupid pullover.
As you can see (or not; I never claimed these would be GOOD photos) I have completed all but one lousy seam of the darned thing. As of now, I have actually sewn up to about the second stitch marker from the bottom. Any progress is good progress, right? I am hoping I can pick up and knit the neck today and finally add this to my finished object pile.

Finally, here is a picture of the cardigan I started out of the yarn from Stitches West.

The yarn is, like I said in a previous post, not as pretty in this pattern as I was hoping it would be. Part of me knows that this yarn would have preferred to be in a brioche pattern or even just a simple seed stitch. But how boring would that have been!? Turns out, this cable repeat is pretty dang boring too. I do about two repeats and then it's just a yawn-fest. I thought this pattern would be a lot more exciting. And it cost $9! But, I really think the finished object will be wearable and lovely and I will definitely finish this project. The only thing is.... none of these projects are in a big hurry to be completed. The pullover and socks are to be Christmas gifts, and the cardigan is surely more of a warm weather knit...
And so

My little wheels are whirring. I'm thinking about cotton. I'm thinking about crochet bralettes. I'm thinking about shorts (!?) and I'm thinking about warm weather garments. So, the best thing about my knitting is that it's all self-imposed. Any deadlines I might think are sticky are actually a lot more flexible than I think. After all, it's all about having fun.... right?