Friday, February 28, 2014

Light and Airy

It was time for a new sock project, so the other day I spent time looking at patterns.  Often I gravitate toward socks with some type of ribbed design, but this time I made a conscious effort to branch out. Since this project will inevitably be on-the-go, I didn't want a pattern what was too involved.  That's probably why I often choose the above-mentioned ribbed patterns . . . somewhat mindless with a little bit of interest.

After some debate I settled on this.

Hayrick Sock.  The 8-row pattern repeat creates the illusion of cables and lace.  Very clever yet easy to remember.  An airy sock in a light color must mean we're moving toward spring.

My color inspiration this week paints a picture.

Bright surrounded by a black border.

Many colors, lovely details.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Keeping It Short

There was a time in my life when I did a lot of sewing and made most of my own clothes.  One of the benefits of sewing your own clothes is you can make adjustments along the way and get a good fit.

I try to do the same thing with my knitting.  Granted there isn't much fitting to do with a shawl, but when it comes to a sweater, there's plenty of opportunity for tweaking.  For me the biggest adjustment is always the sleeve length.  I have short arms, and I don't like sleeves that are too long.  The only solution involves a bit of math and a healthy dose of good luck.

I'm working on the sleeves of my Mondo Cable Cardi.  Even the shortest sleeve length in this pattern is too long for me, so it's time for some adjustments . . . number of decreases, number of rounds, number of inches.

Yesterday I worked up the numbers, and today I double-checked them.  On paper it looks good.  If I can get the right length on one sleeve, the second one will be a breeze.

Monday, February 24, 2014

For Monday

I don't know where the month of February went, but here we are looking at the last week already.  That means it's time for the monthly giveaway.  Leave a comment and share what you're working on.  Did you challenge yourself with a project for the Olympics?  If so, did you complete the challenge?  Comments on any projects are welcome - they don't have to be Olympics related.

The winner, chosen at random, will receive a skein of yarn from Dirty Water DyeWorks - winner's choice.  The contest closes on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

And now I'm off to tackle Monday.  I think I'll start here.

This yarn needs a sock pattern.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ice Time

I've been bouncing back and forth between a couple knitting projects. For the moment only two are holding my attention.  We won't talk about the skein that's waiting patiently by the winder, destined to be a new pair of socks.

A few days ago I started a new shawl.  Something with a bit of lace. Nothing too involved.  A little back and forth between a couple colors. Perfect, I thought.  And it was until I delved into the lace section while watching Olympic hockey.  I should have known better.  All that action on the ice threw my stitch count off.  I had no choice but to work my way back and sort it all out - which I did after the game.

Back on track and ready to start another section.  I plan to keep it that way.  No more ice time for this project.  In case you're wondering, it's Ziggity.

I was shoveling snow the other day, and my neighbor commented that he was done with winter.  I reminded him that it's only February.  My color inspiration this time around . . . 

Savoring the season.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Very Vintage

I have a collection of vintage knitting patterns . . . a bit of knitting history.

I inherited many of them from one of my aunts.  Over the years friends have added to my collection, and I've even picked up a few here and there in my travels.  I make a point to sit down and read a few patterns every once in a while.  The style of writing has definitely changed. Many of them are only vague pattern suggestions that wouldn't make it into print today.  

Sometimes vintage knitting patterns are put to good use.  A World War I film production is looking for period knitted garments, and one woman has blogged about her pattern suggestions.  What a fascinating project.

Since I'm on the subject and the Winter Olympics are running, here's an interesting piece on the history of curling sweaters.  Classic.

As for my sweater, I'm moving right along.

I told myself I have to work a few more rows, but it's almost time to measure.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Count Early, Count Often

Over the weekend I was cruising right along on my sweater.  I had divided for the sleeves and was making my way down the body when I discovered that I had a dropped a stitch all the way back at the end of the raglan increases near the divide.  No, I hadn't been counting my stitches.  I had assumed that since most of it was straight-ahead knitting, I would be right on track.  This is a harsh reminder that I need to enforce my count early, count often rule.

My only recourse was to rip out 6 inches and put the wandering stitch back on track.  I didn't take pictures to document the incident, but you get the general idea.  The sweater shrank, and I was surrounded by yards and yards of yarn.  Once I had everything picked up and had counted my stitches at least 4 times, I didn't hesitate.  I jumped right in and started knitting what I had just ripped out.  Without too much trouble I had regained 3 of the lost inches.  

Feeling confident that my sweater was well on its way again, I put it down to give some attention to a project that had been sitting on my desk for a few days.

It didn't take long to get this up and running.

And now it's ready for this.

I'm tempted to keep going but am trying to be fair with my knitting time.  Before I get too carried away, I should check in again with that sweater.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Random on Friday

I'm having one of those weeks where I don't know where the time went.  Thinking back over the last few days I realize I did a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  My long range planning is moving forward, but there's nothing to show for it right now.  I know I didn't do enough paperwork, but the week isn't over, so I can still redeem myself on that front.

Of course I've been dyeing . . . more winter than spring.

These seem to reflect our current weather pattern.

And I found time for a bit of knitting.

I'm working with worsted weight, but it feels like bulky.  Since this is my only ongoing project right now, I might have to start something with fingering weight just to balance it out.

Blood oranges are my color inspiration for the week.

Sometimes the outside is as pretty as the inside.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Little Voice

I savor my late night knitting - peace and quiet, a time to unwind - but working into the night can have pitfalls.  Often the ingredients are there to make a mistake - dim light, tired eyes, maybe a beer. Everyone makes knitting mistakes, day or night.  The key is knowing how and when to fix them.

A few nights ago I was knitting into the evening, working away on my Cream and Sugar Cowl.  I was making my way across a cable round when I stumbled onto a problem.  My stitch count was off.

The cable on the right had 21 stitches instead of 22.  My first thought was that I had dropped a stitch, but I inspected both sides and couldn't find a stitch hanging.  I was ready to rip back to the previous cable crossing to straighten it out, but before I pulled everything off the needles, I did a little more counting.  I discovered that the cable on the left had 23 stitches.  It was time to count all the stitches.  It turns out I had the right total but the wrong arrangement for the cables.

I then realized the problem was with the 4 purl stitches between the cables.  The first purl stitch should have been a knit, and the first stitch of the left cable should have been a purl.  If I shifted that purl panel one stitch to the left, the problem would be solved.  The best part?  Instead of ripping out, I could drop 2 stitches and fix everything.

By this time the late night had become very late.  I had pulled out a crochet hook and was about to drop the stitches when I heard a little voice.  The little voice told me this would be much easier to fix in the light of day when I wasn't so tired.  Experience has taught me to listen to that voice, so I went to bed.

In the morning I looked at the situation with fresh eyes and counted one more time just to make sure.  The situation hadn't changed overnight.

I dropped the first of the purl stitches all the way down to the round where I had mistakenly purled instead of knit.

Then I brought it all the way back to the top as a knit stitch.

Now there were 22 stitches for the right cable.

Then I did the same thing to the first stitch of the left cable.

On the wrong side I dropped it all the way down to where I had made it a knit, and I brought it back up as a purl.

The problem was fixed, and I didn't have to rip out several rounds of knitting.

It took all of 5 minutes to set things straight.

I finished the rest of the project without a hitch.

I loved this pattern the first time I made it and loved it just as much the second time around.  Gentle decreasing from bottom to top gives this cowl some shape.

The yarn is Lillian, colorway Topaz.  

Wam, yellow tones to add a splash of color.  Thick, cushy cables to chase away the chill.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Taking It Easy

My household has been hit by a mid-winter bug that's been claiming victims one after another.  Even though I tried my hardest to avoid it, it was inevitable it would catch up with me eventually.  It didn't knock me flat on my back, but it definitely took the wind out of my sails. When vitamin C and endless cups of tea didn't send it packing, I decided to ease up on my schedule and take it easy.

For me, taking it easy doesn't mean sleeping for hours and hours. Taking it easy means rearranging my schedule, canceling a couple appointments and hunkering down with my knitting.

This yarn has been waiting patiently since last fall.  I'm sure a new sweater will make be feel better.

Friday, February 7, 2014


I'm always experimenting with new colorways.  

Some morph from existing colorways, some happen quite by accident and some are deliberately planned.

This is the story of how one colorway came to be.  I received an email from a customer - an enthusiastic and passionate knitter in Rhode Island.  She and her knitting buddies were having a couple beers. They remarked that the beer was a lovely color.  Wouldn't it be nice to have yarn that matched?

And so the request was made.

Smuttynose IPA.  For color accuracy, they told me what they had been drinking.  For color accuracy, I had to sample some. 

Projects like this provide hours of entertainment.  I mixed several different dye batches in an attempt to get a match and finally settled on this.

IPA in Lillian and Paula.  Freshly brewed and available in any quantity, not just a six pack.

The storm the other day brought fresh snow and ice . . . and my color inspiration for the week.

Crystal clear.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Worth Repeating

There are so many good books to read . . . so many that I could never read them all in one lifetime.  Every once in a while, an exceptionally good one comes along - one that's so good I would consider reading it again.  But that doesn't happen very often.  Life is short, and there's only so much time to spend on books.

The same is true of knitting patterns.  There are so many good knitting patterns - intricate designs, clever construction, simple comfort. The list goes on and on.  I'll never be able to knit all the patterns that capture my interest.  And like books, the standard is high.  There are only a few patterns I would consider making a second time.

This is one of them.

Cream and Sugar Cowl.  I made this cowl once before, but it's a booth sample.  Occasionally I wear it in the booth, but that's the only active duty it gets.  What's made for the booth stays with the booth.  

This winter I've had a terrible time keeping track of my cowls.  I can understand losing mittens.  I take them off and on all the time and inevitably leave at least one behind.  But not so with a cowl.  Once I put it on, it's on for the day. 

Rather than waiting for my missing cowls to surface, I decided to knit a new one.  I was browsing through my pattern queue and Ravelry when I remembered Cream and Sugar with its cozy cabled texture.  I had to have one of my own.  

The yarn is Lillian, colorway Topaz.  We're still in the thick of winter. I'm not ready to make the leap to spring colors just yet.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Treppenviertel Topper

My hat kick continues with the Treppenviertel Hat.

Last winter I made a pair of Treppenviertel socks.  I thought for sure I had made them last summer, but it turns out it was almost a full year ago . . . further confirmation that I'm useless at keeping track of time.

I loved making the Treppenviertel socks, and they've become a favorite pair this winter.

When I discovered the companion hat a week ago, I knew I had to make it.

This pattern is straightforward - rounds and rounds of knit and purl combinations to create a maze of ridges.  The design includes two options for the top of the hat.

I opted for the version with the point.

Fascinating.  I know.  I'm easily entertained.

The yarn is Lillian, colorway Ribbit.  Springy Merino is a good match for this ribbed pattern.  This hat is bound to be a favorite just like the socks.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest last week.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments.  People are working on a variety of items - everything from baby garments to socks to sweaters and shawls.  It's interesting to note that a fair number are knitting for themselves - probably as payback for holiday knitting.

Congratulations to Debbie, the winner of this contest.  Be sure to follow along for another contest coming up later in the month.