Christmas knitting 2017

As usually happens, I decided in mid-November that I am knitting Christmas presents for four family members. I had one pair of socks already cast on, so that’s just a matter of finishing up, but everything else is a big ol’ slap-dash rush job.

These socks are for my sister-in-law, who I overheard commenting about how all her boot socks have holes in them. I gave her a pair of handknit socks when we were visiting in September, and this is a perfect opportunity to knit for her again. She likes bright colors, and this mystery rainbow yarn has been lurking in my stash waiting for an assignment for a while. The red main color is Heritage sock yarn, a trusty workhorse that will stand up to lots of washing and wearing, and keep its color.

I bought this yarn at SAFF in October, and I knew right away that it was for my mom. It’s Neighborhood Fibre Co.’s sock yarn in the colorway Banksy, and it’s lovely. I’m thinking some Syncopation Socks are just the thing. They’ll be simple enough to show off the lovely colorway, but the stitch pattern is interesting and they’ll be pretty warm. These still haven’t been started.

You’ve seen these before…

This combination has been on my list for a long time, as you probably recognize. They’re Manos del Uruguay’s Alegría in Columbina, and Schmutzerella Yarns’ Superwash Sock in Let’s Make a Teal. I’ve planned sweaters to no success, and dabbled in shawl patterns, but I finally found something that will come together. I’ve been eyeing the Severin fair isle beanie for a little bit, and while looking through my stash I found these yarns and it clicked.

I’m holding the sock yarns double, so the fabric is thick, but it’ll relax when blocked and the design will be a little clearer. I think it’ll look great, and I hope my cousin likes it. She’s 17 and lives in the midwest, so a brightly colored warm hat should be just the thing. Do you think a fur pompom on top would be an improvement, or would it be too much?

I’m also working on a very simple, very plain hat for my brother-in-law. He works outside a fair amount, so a thick, warm, workhorse of a hat (in a relatively manly color, of course) will hopefully get some use. The pattern is improvised (it’ll be tiny, masculine cables once I’m finished with the brim ribbing), the yarn is Heritage sock held with a super soft mystery cotton/wool blend.

Wish me luck with all the knitting. There’s enough time, I just need to focus!

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Ganesha

I’ve been making progress on Wes’ sweater, and I think it’ll be done later this week. But of course, the second I get a fabulous new idea, I get distracted. I was digging around in my fabric stash and found a pair of Wes’ jeans, which were frayed around the hems and had a hole in one knee. I hemmed them and repaired the hole a couple years ago but he didn’t wear them, so I tucked them away to use the denim. However, on a whim I tried them on and they’re perfectly slouchy, and I really like the way they fit when I roll them up a little to offset their awkward length. So I got inspired and added an embroidered patch on one leg.

I’ve had this design knocking around for a while, thinking I’d turn it into a knit color chart, but it never quite worked. It’s also kind of a large stencil, so it wasn’t right for my previous projects. This ended up being just the right application. As I started embroidering I realized that some of my tracing (using chalk paper, since denim in pants-leg form is way too thick for my usual lightboard setup) was a little off. Check out what was supposed to be the toes on his left foot… Not quite right.

So I got a little creative rearranging those lines, rather than trying to retrace them and ending up with extra visible “draft” lines. I think the bed of flowers ended up being very sweet, and now I just need to give him a little mouse buddy and a few more flowers by his feet before he’s complete.

I love the image and the colors, and I’ve been familiar with Ganesha for a long time, but I wasn’t absolutely sure what he represents in the Hindu pantheon. How fitting is it that he is the god of beginnings, and that he is often honored and invoked as part of rites and ceremonies? It feels particularly germane to have brought Ganesh into my life during the month that I embarked on such an exciting, important new chapter. Ganesha is also known as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. In most images and statues, he’s shown holding an axe (to cut ties of attachment), a bowl of sweets or a dessert of some kind (an offering, and his trunk is usually heading straight towards the treats), a rope (to pull yourself forward, symbolizing ambitions), and a particular mudra (hand gesture) that symbolizes blessings of wisdom and protection.

Stashdown 2017- End of October

I sent a pile of handspun and handknit items with my dad to the Earthskills Rendezvous earlier this month. For earthskills gatherings, I try to offer up accessories and materials made with natural materials, in colors that are darker or more neutral. I was pretty happy with the selection I sent, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a number of skeins of handspun yarn sold, along with a couple pairs of fingerless gloves. I hope the mitts keep their new wearers warm, and that some happy crafters are now making wonderful things with my handspun!

Handspun, hand-dyed fingerless mitts dyed with madder root.

On the yarn collection front, I’m not doing quite as well as I’d like. This year’s FibreShare was really lovely, and I was happy that most of the goodies I sent my partner were from my stash. However, the danger and glory of FibreShare is that a package came for me as well, and while the treats inside were beautiful and fun, they do still have mass and weight. So, into the dresser they go. The neon DyeforKnitting yarn is really fun, and I haven’t worked with colors that bright before. It isn’t usually my style, but I think it’ll be interesting to come up with something for this color palate. It reminds me of tropical bird feathers, particularly when paired with the soft gray. I’m excited about the Zauerball, too; German sock yarn is hearty and tough, and I really like socks with that kind of wear. They may not be soft, but they’re warm and they last forever. The Sea Turtle Fiber Arts yarn has a similar color scheme to some other sock yarn I have, and I’m considering adding it all together to stretch it a bit. 

In searching for the right yarn for Wes’ sweater, I ended up collecting a lot of yarn from my dear friend Pat. She’s been slowly but surely distributing her friend’s stash, and whenever I’ve needed yarn for a project, she’s had some options for me. This time around, I gave a new home to two sweaters’ worth of yarn that didn’t quite work for Wes, so I’ll be figuring out what to do with it in the coming months.

There are about ten skeins of this Araucania wool. This is the same stuff I made my Robin Hoodie from last year, but the color is a little more intense than that green.

 

The other yarn I considered for Wes’ sweater was this olive green tweed. It’s nice yarn, but there wasn’t quite enough of it and it’s a little on the thick side.

When I was in Portland, as I mentioned last week, I brought home a bit of yarn. I knew it would happen, and I think I did a good job of not getting too sucked into the magic of the LYS (local yarn shop), even though Charleston doesn’t have one and I really wish it did.

I couldn’t resist this local-to-Portland sock yarn. Ritual Dyes is a fantastic dye studio, and I fell in love with this colorway (Rose Gold) the second I saw it.

I also accepted Steph’s destashing offerings, including the squishy, comfy leftovers that made up this hat. It took me just a couple hours to whip this up, and it went to Rendezvous with my dad earlier this month.

I made this hat in the car between Portland and Eugene, using some deliciously soft and cozy leftovers my friend Stephanie destashed to me.

Lastly, this weekend was the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival near Asheville, NC. My knitting group rented a cabin and made a weekend of it, enjoying the crisp mountain air and the amazing view from the cabin’s front porch along with a morning of wandering around the festival, touching soft things and admiring creative color combinations and all the neat tools and accessories the vendors had to offer. I only bought one skein of sock yarn and a bit of Finn roving (a breed of sheep I’ve never spun before), but I came away with some major spinning inspiration and a renewed vigor for my destashing efforts. After all, how can I justify buying new toys when I haven’t used the ones I already have?

I loved this colorway immediately, and I think it’ll be a hit with my mom. I’m not sure if she needs another pair of socks, but I do want to make something for her with this.

I loved seeing all the roving and fiber at SAFF, and though I really do have enough materials to make a whole lot of yarn, I had to try something new. I stumbled into a sweet booth with a delightful, grinning baby in the back corner, and once I started touching the different wool being displayed, I realized that I hadn’t heard of any of the breeds before. I gravitated toward a dark brown Finn roving at first, then saw the cream color and thought about the dyeing possibilities with this springy, fluffy, squishy, long-staple wool.

I bought this Finn fiber from a Virginia farm. I wasn’t planning to buy any fiber, but this stuff is really light and springy, and I’ve never worked with it before. I’m excited to try something new.

The sweater curse

The week we got back from our trip was pretty hectic, catching up at work and adjusting to east coast time. The following week, Columbus Day, we went down to the courthouse and got married. It was a very low-key event, with no one in attendance and no fanfare at all, but it was absolutely perfect in every way. Of course, this is a lovely and happy thing, and I’m thrilled about it on every level, but my fuzzy knitterly heart is particularly aflutter over the fact that I can now make Wes a sweater! I never had any real belief in the sweater curse, but for fun I haven’t chanced it, so this is the first large project I’ve made for him.

In case you’re not familiar, the rough idea of the sweater curse is that making a sweater for a partner you’re seeing (but not married to) will end the relationship. Perhaps it’s a sexist idea about seeming over-eager and scaring a man off, perhaps it’s a lesson in patience, generosity, or time management, and certainly it’s a silly folktale, but it’s still charming and it’s given a sense of extra formality and ceremony to this project.

I presented Wes with a few (visually) simple, classic designs, and he chose Brooklyn Tweed’s Brownstone. It’s a shawl-collared pullover, knit from the bottom up. We looked at a couple yarn options and ended up going with some recycled merino wool yarn that I harvested from a Goodwill sweater a few months back. I started a sweater with it for myself, but it languished for a long time and I knew it was never going to happen, so to Wes’ Brownstone it went. My guy is particular about how bland he wants his clothing to be, so this oatmeal color ended up being far more up his alley than the burnt orange or olive tweed options I suggested.

I made a bit of progress while sitting in the social security office, waiting to start the process of changing my name.

Wes has an exaggerated triangle shape- he’s a pretty skinny guy, and not exceedingly tall, but his shoulders are quite broad. I cast on a size small and scaled up to a medium by the time I reached the collar placket, and I plan to make the rest of the sweater according to the medium stitch counts. If the scaling is terrible, I’ll pick up stitches somewhere in the middle (before the placket, but after I increased; at about floating-rib-level) and knit back down to my original cast on edge, decreasing a little but not quite to the stitch count of the small size. I did this when I made my Stapi pullover, essentially knitting the piece inside out, and I liked how it combined the pattern elements of a bottom-up pattern but the flexibility of a top-down one.

It’s getting there! I decided to do a provisional cast-on for the sleeves and then knit them down from the sweater body, rather than knitting sleeves separately and attaching them. I really want Wes to be able to try on the sweater and determine how long the sleeves should be, so that method makes more sense to me.

 

Travel Knitting

The blog has been rather quiet lately, due to some exciting happenings in my life. First, we narrowly avoided a repeat of last year with Hurricane Irma. Charleston got lucky, much luckier than other folks, and our only damage was a fence that we were going to take down anyway and a dent in a sheet metal shed that we were able to pop back into shape.

I started a hat in the airport, but it really didn’t end up being what I wanted. It was good to have something to do on the plane, but I frogged it by the time we arrived in Oregon.

The day after the hurricane would have hit, had it not changed course (what a stressful weekend…), we headed to the west coast for 10 days and enjoyed two weddings in about 26 hours, nearly 1200 miles of driving, and visiting with everyone we could fit into a couple days here and a couple hours there. All that driving time meant lots of knitting for me, and I was able to finish a couple projects while we were gone. The weather was perfect, our families and friends were delightful, and we got engaged! I also accumulated a very large amount of yarn and spent a bit more than I meant to at a delightful yarn shop in Portland that’s owned by a dear friend of a dear friend, but I’m pretty content with it.

While we were traveling, I finished these stashbusting socks for myself. They’re comfy and cute, and I take a huge amount of joy at how the stripes don’t line up at all. I did that on purpose.

I also whipped up a simple colorblock hat and started a couple other small projects, including a slouchy beanie with some fun pooling experimentation. As usually happens when I visit, my friend Stephanie gave me a pile of goodies and I couldn’t help but buy some treats at the local yarn shop. My destashing efforts were less than impressive, but everything I brought home is wonderful quality and, you have my word, will be used up!

The self-striping yarn is mystery sock yarn my dad traded for, and the plain brown is mystery leftover yarn that my friend Stephanie destashed to me. This hat is soft and cozy, and I hope it finds a happy home!

The striped Stashdown socks I mentioned in August were finally finished right before we left, so I brought them to wear on our trip. While we were visiting Wes’ brother and his family, I overheard his sister in law mentioning a hole in her last pair of winter socks, and I knew that my time had come! I sprang into action and raided my suitcase, and in mere moments, Alycia had a new pair of thick socks to wear with boots. Knitters really do have superpowers.

I made these socks for myself, as stashbusters, but they found a toasty new home with Wes’ sister in law Alycia.

Pants

IMG_8256I made these pants last summer, using the Purl Soho City Gym Shorts pattern as a guide and improvising the pants legs and ankle drawstrings based on a lovely pair of purple elephant-print lounge pants I found at an import shop last time we visited Oregon.

The fabric I used (of which I still have plenty- perhaps it needs to be another Patsy?) came from a Hancock Fabric closeout sale, and it’s a bit on the casual side for work. I think I could get away with this style of pants for work if I wear them with a tailored shirt and heels, at least on Fridays, but none of the fabric in my stash really works for another flowy pair of pants like these. While the ship has completely sailed for participating in the Summer of Basics challenge, I think focusing on my own basics when I actually need them is a good plan.

Stashdown 2017: End of August

I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through my stash. The bag of “give away or donate” yarn is getting more and more full, and the drawers where I keep my yarn are no longer packed so tightly that I can’t move things around in there. This is progress, and I’m happy to say that I’m almost to my yarn goal of having all of my yarn fit into its dresser comfortably (with no stashes hidden around the craft room or in bags pretending to be works in progress). I still haven’t committed to sorting my beads yet, and that will take a good long time, but it’ll happen.

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I’ve been making washcloths these days, and it’s nice to be able to use up a ball of cotton on about a cloth and a half. There are so many free washcloth patterns, and to be honest, any stitch with an interesting texture can automatically be a washcloth if you make it square-ish and washcloth-sized. They’re ultra-portable and lightweight while in progress, quick to make, and useful. They also make decent gifts!

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As always, socks are on the needles. Much of my stash is in the form of sock yarn, so two-at-a-time toe-up socks are a perfect way to use up every inch of your sock yarn and still have a matching pair. The above is the leftovers from a friend’s birthday socks in Cascade Heritage Prints in the colorway Tut, and it will make a perfectly ankle-length pair of socks with just enough of the supplemental color (Pagewood Farms’ Denali sock yarn in the colorway Grasshopper) to make toes and a short cuff.

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These colorful little beauties are the leftovers from a pair of socks I made for a family member earlier this year, along with some leftovers from my Grandma’s Sacre du Printemps socks. I used up the multicolored yarn (Stroll Hand Painted sock yarn from KnitPicks in the colorway Big Top) to within a couple feet, and there was just enough Grasshopper left to make the toes and cuffs of the Tut socks.