Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Stash Dash 2015: results

This summer, I did a 5km. in knitting, of course.

I wasn't sure if I was gonna make it and when I had finished the last of my WIPs on Thursday the 13th, I realized I was short about 50 yards. So I pulled a half-ball of acrylic out of stash, estimated its yardage at about 73 yards, and crocheted it into a (rather ugly) baby hat. I forgot how fast crochet is --that was just about an hour and a half for a project. Simple,simple, and with that I hit my goal.

What sorts of things did I finish?

1) The Sweater
This is my first "real" sweater. It's a pretty good fit (I might need to re-do the bindoff) and it turned out almost exactly as I wanted it. I have the ends to weave in (as you can see) and I also need to put buttons on the sleeves (they are the major modification to the project--3/4 length instead of full, fitted instead of loose, knitted on edging, sideways garter instead of downwards garter for a pulled-in rather than belled-out effect, with a button). Finally I think I may do some sort of crochet chain along the neck ribbing--it is a bit open.

The pattern is Harvest, by tin can knits; this is a free easy pattern, part of their Simple Collection, which is designed to guide beginning knitters. I found it easy and informative to follow up until a certain point--after I took the sleeves off, I did pretty much my own thing, but upon reviewing, "my own thing" was basically "instructions" without a few decreases, plus the sleeve thing. I would recommend this pattern for anyone looking to start their first cardigan.

I knit the second-biggest size without huge concern for gauge (I had swatched three or four years back and this fit in the region of "close").

The yarn is by Dragonfly Fibers, their Worsted base, which is discontinued (it's essentially the same as their Traveller base though) in the 'That Ol' Chestnut' colorway. The color is not dyed the same way any more (it's much darker now), but a close color alternative would be 'Copper Cloud' by Leading Men Fiber Arts (though I have not seen this in person to compare). I alternated skeins of That Ol' Chestnut throughout after carefully selecting the 5 balls that were closest matched, and as of yet there appears to be no noticeably different sections.

2) The Blanket
You may remember me knitting this last summer for Stash Dash. Unfortunately after I finished it I just was not as happy with it. It was too small. So I picked up two balls of a close-but-not-identical gray and knit an edging onto it


I was going to take a great picture of it but Sunshine has claimed it as hers. Surprised? no. Anyway, the slightly darker gray border that you see on the top edge extends all the way around and gives it a much more completed look. I need to weave in the ends too and then block it and get a good, cat-free picture.

3) Clapotis
I have tons of fingering yarn that's destined for projects that I haven't touched in years and years. This summer I decided to knit up one of my precious deep stash skeins of Handmaiden Casbah, a merino-cashmere-nylon blend of fingering weight yarn. Casbah is like my kryptonite: the MCN base is exquisitely plush and wonderful, and the colors that Handmaiden dyes up are to die for. I have 5 skeins in my stash yet and I still have no idea what to do with them--I just had to collect them.'
mm. beautiful. This was the Masala colorway and it turned out perfect as a Clapotis.

those are the majority of the things. I also knocked out a pair of socks, a cowl, a hat, a pair of mitts and a pair of mittens, and 16 oz of spinning. and the ugly baby hat

So, now that I finished all that stuff, I've been puttering around from project to project. I pick up yarn and just put it down again. Not sure what I want. I was worried until last night, when I found myself pulling my Baruffa Cashwool out of hibernating and starting my intricate Estonian Lace shawl again. Apparently what I am craving is "fiddly" and "laceweight". We'll see how long this trend lasts

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I finished the sweater!

The sweater is done! I may at some point need to: affix buttons; weave in ends; remove life line; re-do the bind off edge if it is too tight. But the knitting is complete so I give it a big fat FINISHED stamp. This with my other FOs and spinning brings me up to 3601 yards

Now, if you have been paying careful attention, you may have noted that Stash Dash 2015 ends on the 14th of August and that I still need to make it to 5469 yards. To you I say, do not fear, for I still have one huge WIP that can turn into a FO of many yardages. The lovely blanket pictured in an earlier entry is in its last stage, gaining a border, and I am into the last ball of worsted weight as I knit that. I also have a pair of mittens that are just an inch or two from being done (an hour or two's worth of work, surely no more). So fear not! with those two combinations I will make it to... drumroll, please... 5417 yards.

crap. yeah. that's right. I'm gonna be short of stash dash by 50 stinking yards.

I'm sure I can crank out a 50 yard something (bulky hat, anyone?) but at this point I'm so bitter I don't think I want to even try any more.

Anyway, I still have 5 days left, so instead of blogging, I'm off to poke this blanket and see if I can't bang it out real quick.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sweater is still not done; Pictures of FOs


As another month is about to tick over, my sweater is not yet complete.

I've been telling you for weeks that it's just "almost done", and that it's "so close"--I am practically checking it off as finished in my brain.

Of course, nothing happens if you don't actually knit on the thing. Knitting time has been sparse in the past 7 days, and for the bulk of what little I had, I have been working on a cowl that I've ripped out three times. after the third ripout, I realized I should just let it sit even if it is shaped wrong so I can still count it for stash dash, but yeah, that didn't occur to me until after I'd destroyed it. again.

So I picked up the sweater and did a few rows on it last night--really only like 100 stitches; I was quite tired so I ended up falling asleep with it in my lap. But tonight! tonight I have free time and an inclination to use it--and some video podcasts to watch (I think I'll add the Fat Squirrel Speaks to the sidebar once I catch up with her back episodes--she is very, very funny and great fun to watch). So, tonight will be sweater knitting. I would like to finish both sleeves--and I do think it's do-able, they're not that big and the first is only like a thousand stitches left (that sounds ominous, but think of a big shawl with 500 sts per row--that's only two rows, you know, and it may take a couple of hours but it isn't taking all week). That'll put me in a good mood for the end of July.

Meanwhile, a rarity: pictures. I got my sister to take some good shots for me when I was visiting the family, and I have a few crappy computer shots as well to share.

Stash Dash 2015 in pictures:

spinning has been very productive!

Sortedam So, 128 yards of 2 ply from a fat gorgeous batt













Dried Flowers, 220 yards of navajo-plied 3ply 100% BFL

Spring Flowers, 225 yards 2ply from Chilean (mystery) wool














I also finished off 375 yards of a beautiful skinny 50/50 merino/tencel 2ply from 4oz of Highland Handmades in gorgeous shades of purple.

As for knitting, I wanted to focus on finishing WIPs. This was pretty good motivation. I've finished:

a pair of socks for my twin; quite long

a hat and a matching pair of fingerless mitts for myself, out of some awesome Chilean yarn

A Clapotis in Handmaiden Casbah, one of my all time favorite yarns. Guess I should review this stuff at some point
and a little dress for a baby as one of my coworkers is sprogging; no pics yet though of that.

I still have in progress:

the eternal blue cowl. Beautiful MCN hand-dyed by a friend; a linen stitch border, but then I want to do some shaping and every time I do it, it's not quite right. *sigh*

This colorwork blanket that was inspired by Mason Dixon Knitting and by Rothko; I'm adding a border to it with the last two balls of yarn, so good progress on this sucker, but still not done.


The Sweater. unf, the color is much nicer in real life. Dragonfly Fibers is also one of my favorites so I suppose I should review them too!


So, it's been a productive summer, one way or another. But you see why I want to keep knitting? both the sweater and the blanket are so close to the end! and the cowl is so small, and I've got a hat and mittens and socks sitting around that are pretty small too that maybe I could finish if I could just focus on them...

Monday, July 20, 2015

The end is nigh!

After some diligent knitting over my break, discussion with my yarn and fashion inclined sisters, and a bit of "sucking it up" about actually starting the sleeves, I begin to see that I might yet finish this sweater by the end of the month!

I have knitted the bulk of the first sleeve. What remains is a knitted-on garter stitch edging that I want to do instead of the recommended garter stitch edging which is sideways. or. the normal way. I cast on about 15 stitches and knitted almost the whole way around before I realized 1) that my k2tog and k3tog at the joining point were kind of ugly; 2) that I'd started in the wrong place so if I do end up using buttons they'd be, oddly, on the underside of my arm; and 3) I definitely have enough yarn but I really should try the sweater on when it's not bunched up to make sure the length of the sleeve is correct.

When I finish this technical/tricky bit, I will do the other sleeve. Since they're half sleeves, and they started as raglan so they're half done, these are only about 5% each of the total sweater. And then when I am done I will use the rest of the yarn to make it longer, which is about another 5%. so right now I'm less than 15% from the end of my sweater and I've got more than a week left off the month.

Of course I need to do research first and foremost. but uhhh... when my brain reaches a breaking point then I take a little knitting time to give it a chance to heal.

No great pics of the sweater yet but if/when I finish it, I will be doing a photo shoot (if I can).

I can't believe I've knitted most of a sweater! I can't wait to have knitted a whole sweater!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sweater progress

So, I was solidly monogamous on my sweater for about half a month--16 or 17 days. This includes me sitting through two movies without a knitting project. I only broke the monogamy for a three day conference where it wasn't sufficiently professional to have a giant sweater mass on my lap, and I worked on some socks instead. Then I went back to sweater knitting only--until I left on my road trip on the 25th of the month, and the sweater was not in-the-car knitting so my Clapotis got picked up.

Not-strictly-but-still-monogamous of a June, then. And it was pretty successful! I am almost done with the body of the sweater, which is worked as a whole back and forth of a large circ. I'm about three to four inches from the end. When I'm done I'll pick up the sleeves with some carefully matched colors and knit as much of those as I can.

The Stash Dash is going pretty well. If I polish off all this yarn with the sweater (which I suspect I will), I'll have knocked out another 1400 yards, on top of some 700 odd yards from spinning and the hat and mittens I finished before the month of monogamy began.

Almost typed monotony there. the sweater was.... hard. a bit of a drag, some times, when all I wanted to do was bust out something new and small. I am glad I tried it though, not in the least because I can look back at those times and recognize them as momentary distractions, little butterflies of thought in my brain of new shiny things. Staying committed to the project was a bit tough but I felt really good the week after I'd not-cheated on the sweater, a week after the urge to knit-soemthing-new-finish-it-rightrightnow had passed. I still love the sweater and want it, and with constant knitting and a dk/worsted yarn it's very satisfying to see how far I progress in a given span of time.

Separating for the sleeves was the most exciting so far, followed closely by switching to garter stitch here at the botttom.

Now it's July, and I'm on a week's vacation. I brought the sweater and am continuing my work on it, happily and with the long-term picture in mind--but the clapotis is here, just in case I finish it, or get bored, or run out of things to do.

couldn't stop myself from bringing a skein of sock yarn too, though, just in case.

Happy knitting to you :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Really, I signed up for this

June. The sixth month of the year, the halfway point of 2015 knitting, the point-of-no-return for holidays-are-coming knitting (if that's what you do). The first true month of Stash Dash, too. For me, it's always been full of tons of planning, new projects, old wips, and fresh FOs for the stash dash yardage. using up bulky yarn fast for fun. all sorts of things.

Except this June, I'm going to try to be a monogamous knitter.

I don't think I've ever practiced knitting monogamy. Maybe my first two projects, a scarf and another scarf--but those were before I had really taken up the craft, back when I was just fiddling around. Before there was stash; when I would just go into the store, see yarn, decide I wanted to knit a scarf, and buy what I thought I needed for that project.

Now I don't have any qualms about my normal knitting polyamory. Some projects are better suited to certain situations than others, and once I started knitting in class to keep myself awake, I'd always have something supersimple and another more engaging project going on at the same time. This spread, especially as my stash grew and I got on ravelry, where I was inspired by 400 things every minute.

So, nowadays, as you well know, 10 projects on the needles that are active, plus five or so hibernating things, plus some spinning and other crafts keeps me happy and busy.

Still, I've never knitted a sweater. Well, I did knit that one in Denmark, but I improvised the pattern, it didn't fit right, it was too short, and I ended up felting it. Soooo that was more of a disaster than a project. I've never actually measured myself, followed a pattern, and then adjusted it to make it fit me. I mean, I can (and have) knit a sack that goes over my head, but that's not a sweater.

I started two sweaters since the time in Denmark. One required colorwork,and changing a pattern to be knit in the round rather than flat--rather easy (as it was colorwork, and I wanted to steek) except for doing increases and decreases in pattern, which I spectacularly flubbed on the sleeve I started as a swatch. That was three years ago and the six inches of sleeve is all I have of it, still.

The other was a fitted sweater knit in pieces and seamed that I started two and a half years agol. I decided to mod it. I wanted it to be seamless (not hard). I had to change the numbers of stitches for the yarn, needle, and my own size--so I swatched, and measured, and blocked the swatch, and measured again. But I also wanted to change the shape of the neckline and the sleeves, and I had the wrong amount of yarn, and after knitting three inches at the interminable stockinette bottom and having it be a weird size and shape despite my efforts, I abandoned that one too.

About a year ago, I finally worked up my nerve and ripped the second one out, then bravely cast on a completely new pattern. This is Harvest, by Tin Can Knits. It's well written, and it's part of their (free!) Simple Collection that's designed to help people learn how to knit. Yes, I know how to knit. but I do not, apparently, know how to knit sweaters. Also I like the construction of this, and it seems to look good on fat people as well as skinny ones. And, finally, as a top-down raglan, I could try it on to make sure it fit as I worked it. Plus, with my shortage of yardage I am hoping that I can mod the sleeves just in length.

So, I worked on it last Sept (2014) and then put it in a bag and ignored it for six months, pretty much only because of gift knitting. I finally scraped it back out of the bag, figured out where I was at in the pattern, and started working on it again at the end of this past April. But since then, and despite the ease of the pattern, the loveliness of the yarn, and my desire for the FO, I have knitted like a fiend on socks, cowls, hats, and other things.

I want this sweater. I want it to work, to fit me, to have enough yarn, to look good and be wearable, and I want to finish it. actually finish it, and be able to wear it to work for the freezing AC and to like it. Also it's gonna be like 1300 yards for Stash Dash, which I rather desperately need. How to make myself actually work on it? this monogamous thing.

So, I'm trying it. And I don't even want to tear my hair out yet! I had about an hour's worth of knitting time yesterday and today and I've put it into the sweater with nary a qualm (I did glance briefly at a pair of socks that are more than 75% done, but they meant nothing, I swear). I am enjoying how the yarn knits up, the feel of the fabric, and keeping track of how much further I have to go before I can separate for sleeves (maybe 14 rows? not too bad!). I think this monogamy thing might be working out!

In fact, I'd be really optimistic if not for one thing: It's only June 2nd.

Keep your fingers crossed that I don't crack.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Happiness is Strawberry Jam

and food from the grill and the garden, handmade pie and buns for the burgers, bright colors and good music and melted cats asleep on the couch or in a puddle of sunlight Yesterday was a really good day, and today's turning out pretty nice as well, with iced coffee and making people laugh and tending my plants, just waiting for the strawberries to peak (they look SO good). I think this weekend I'll go to the farmer's market--I want some fresh eggs and more berries and breads.

Now if I can just beat this program into shape and make some science happen, then I can go home and knit all evening with a light heart.