Archive for the “meta-knitting” Category


When I vacation in new cities, I like to buy yarn as a souvenir. I don’t collect figurines or spoons or mugs; I don’t want anything that will just sit on a shelf collecting dust. Yarn, especially sock yarn, is perfect – I always know how much to buy, and when I get around to knitting it up I can remember the whole vacation and the excursion to the store. Later, when I wear the finished project, I get even more remembering! (Like the socks I was knitting in the hospital waiting room during the hours before Eldest Niece was born. I like those.)

I was in San Jose on my birthday, where I bought this skein of Malabrigo Sock in the “Lotus” colourway at Green Planet Yarn. (And Michael got a set of Karbonz DPNs, as long as we were in the store. They’re niiiice. They’re gonna be mine when he’s done knitting his socks.) I had a hard time picking just one thing to buy, and I kept getting distracted by the sample knits in the store. Some of them were really gorgeous!

After San Jose we went to Salt Lake City, where I found two yarn stores right near each other. First, we went to Unraveled Sheep, where I bought a Greenwood Fiberworks braid of merino top in the “Twilight” colourway. I have a braid of their yak/silk already, which is the softest thing I’ve ever touched, and when I found out that they’re a local dyer – well, I just had to get this one.

Next we went to Knittin’ Pretty, where I had an even harder time deciding on what to get, and finally settled on this Cascade Heritage Paints in “Teal Mix” that kept calling to me.

It was a lot of fun to visit these three shops, talking with the owners/staff, and seeing the variety of yarn, notions and samples in each one! I also made significant progress on my current pair of socks – the first one is done and the second is nearly to the heel flap. I’ve got a double handful of design ideas from people-watching in the ski lodges, too. It’s so nice to come back from vacation rested, relaxed, and full of ideas and inspiration.

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So, this mistake where I swapped a brown stitch with a blue stitch had to be fixed. I couldn’t just leave it there, not if I ever wanted to be pleased with the finished project.

I placed a removable marker around the stitch below the offender and knit to just before that column of stitches. (I’ll note that I should have put the marker into the stitch, rather than around it. I learned from this small mistake and got it right in the second column.)

…and then I dropped the next stitch off my needle and helped it to ladder down. The marker is now where it should have been: holding the stitch just below the one I need to fix and keeping the column of stitches from dropping even farther.

It was surprisingly easy to re-catch the stitches and pick them back up to the needle. Here the first column has been fixed, and I’ve moved the marker to the stitch below the one that needs fixing in the second column.

When it comes to picking up the stitches in a ladder, I’ve found that a small DPN is easier for me to use than crochet hooks. This is a US 1/2.25mm needle that I borrowed from the nearest sock-in-progress. It’s a good deal smaller than the US 4/3.5mm needles on which I’m knitting, which is beneficial if the stitches are tight.

I slipped the DPN through the lowest stitch, then picked up the strand coming from the neighbouring stitch of the appropriate colour. It’s easy to find with a little bit of tugging on the yarn. Then I can either duck the tip of the DPN with the picked-up stitch through the lower stitch, or use my fingernails to lift the lower stitch over the new one. Either way, it’s important to be careful that neither stitch is twisted and that all the yarn’s strands have been captured.

Here’s the fix! You can’t even tell that it was ever wrong.

I was just as concerned about the inside looking good as I was about the outside! Whether it was dumb luck or skills I didn’t even know I had, the inside of the hat looks exactly as it should. Once it’s been washed and blocked, it will be next to impossible to find the fixed stitches.

Q: How long did it take to fix?
A: Not very long. Less time than I spent agonizing over it, anyway. The timestamps on the pictures say it was 24 minutes, but I also spent eight of those minutes on the phone and I also paused to take pictures of the process. So maybe, maybe, it was fifteen minutes at most.

Q: Was it difficult?
A: Way easier than I thought it would be! The colours have so much contrast that it wasn’t challenging to see which strand I needed to pick up. I did split one stitch on the way up the second ladder, but I went back and fixed that too.

Q: Will you spend so much time waffling over whether to fix the mistake the next time this happens? Because you know there will eventually be a next time.
A: Of course I will.

Q: Even though you really know, deep down, that you can’t leave a mistake like that and you’re going to fix it?
A: Yup.

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It was bound to happen, I suppose. I only wish I’d noticed it sooner. But there it is. A brown stitch where there should be a blue one, and then a blue stitch where there should be a brown one.

I posted to the Ravelry thread for the “Colour Your Winter” challenge to which this hat belongs, and everyone either said that it would be fine to duplicate stitch over the mistake, or that it would be fine to just leave the mistake and no one would notice.

But… I would notice. I’d never be able to not notice. I told the helpful Ravelers that I’d sleep on it and decide what to do, but I already know that I’m going to drop down the eight rounds and fix it. On the plus side, the floats in the back will maintain an appropriate tension since the two stitches will be swapping places!

If I can get good pictures of the fixing process, I’ll share them. Otherwise I’ll just fix it and move on – the hat is very close to completion! There are only a few more rounds to go before I start decreasing for the crown. On a design note, I don’t think I like the way I’ve charted out the top, so I’m going to work out some changes and see if they look as good in yarn as they do in my head. Stay tuned…

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Yesterday I hurriedly left the office because it was starting to snow, and while the forecast was only for a little accumulation that can really cause rush-hour troubles here in northern Virginia. (You’d think we’d learn, but no.) Any excuse to hurry home and knit is a good one, right? The snow turned out to be nothing much, but I decided that a good soup was in order for dinner anyway… partially because hearty soup is so pleasant on a cold night, but mostly because soup is practically effortless and leaves more time for knitting!

So I chopped up some veggies and meat, tossed it all into the pot, set it to simmer, and settled in for the evening. I’m so pleased about how this hat is coming out that I fell into that “just one more round!” mentality and stayed up past my bedtime. But look how far I got! I measured it up against an existing hat that fits perfectly, and it looks as if the new one is also going to be just right for my head after it’s washed and blocked. The overall height may need to be adjusted, so I’ll put in a lifeline before I start the next motif.

I’m hoping to have it done soon, and then I’ll refine the chart if necessary and knit another hat in the larger size to test that out, and then I can work on typing up and laying out the actual pattern, and can you tell I’m just a little bit excited about this one?

Anyway, here’s my non-recipe recipe for the soup I made. It was pretty much just thrown together from what was already in the fridge and pantry, but it came out absolutely delicious:

Spicy Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

2 cups dry split peas (I used yellow pigeon peas)
8 cups stock (veggie, chicken, beef, bouillion cubes & water, whatever)
8 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, cubed
12 ounces ham, cubed (optional)
spices to taste:
kosher salt
black pepper, coarsely ground
red pepper flakes
cayenne pepper
Jamaican curry powder
vegemite or a couple of anchovies (optional, for flavour)

Directions

Easy enough: Put everything in the pot. (If you put the liquid in last, there will be less splashing.) Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about two hours, stirring occasionally. Soup will continue to thicken after it cools, and may need additional liquid when reheated.

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To bring 2016 to a creative finish, I knit this quick floppy hat for a friend. She ordered the yarn and had it sent to me, and I knit it up in a few days. It’s amazing how fast knitting goes when one doesn’t have to spend eight hours in a cubicle away from the project, isn’t it? The yarn is Cascade 220 in a surprisingly sedate gray (I’d expected her to choose a bright pink), and the pattern is the Basic Hat Formula that I keep using because it just works. The hat got a soak in some expensive hair conditioner and dried on the boot-and-glove warmer, and though it’s still a bit stiff now, it will get more floppy the more it’s worn.

Michael also finished his own floppy hat (same pattern as above, same Cascade 220, but in a muted heathery blue). Of course that means that his lost hat will turn up at any moment, as is the way of lost hats.

After the hat, I think his fingers must have been itching for something to do, because he pulled out the sock yarn and half-a-sock he’d started knitting almost a decade ago. It had a few problems, primarily that it was going to be too large (blame me for that one; I’m the one who suggested the stitch count) so we frogged it, wound it into a skein, and left it to soak. He got started on a new sock with the second ball of yarn while I recharted sections of the still-nameless colourwork hat design.

By the end of the long weekend he’d finished the ribbed cuff and was moving on to the stockinette leg of the sock. He says he’s doing this so that he’ll have something to keep him occupied when we fly out west in a few weeks (snowboarding trip, woo!) but I’m starting to think he enjoys the process enough to keep going even when we’re not on an airplane.

Meanwhile, with the house to myself again, I’ll have the quiet I need so that I can concentrate on getting each of those four colours into the right place. I adjusted the chart to see if I could avoid a nasty jog at the start of each round, and I *think* it’s going to work, but only actually knitting the hat will prove my theory. More pictures should be coming later this week, when it actually looks like something!

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This is the official end of 2016 tallying-up post!


Incoming fibre in 2016:
Split half of an eight-pound MDSW fleece with Caroline

4 pounds, not accounting for weight lost to the washing and carding process

2016MDSW_with_fleece

Outgoing fibre in 2016:
6 ounces of Ashland Bay Merino Tussah became 353 yards of two-ply yarn
4 ounces of Sheepish Creations Merino/Bamboo/Nylon became 348 yards of two-ply yarn

10 ounces / 701 yards

20160710_wheel-and-tour


Incoming yarn in 2016:
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream to make Michael a new washcloth (150)
1 ball Red Heart Buttercup to make a stuffed sheep (63)
1 skein Valley Yarns Huntington for white toes on the Tiger socks (218)
1 skein Cascade 220 for Karlin’s hat (220)

4 balls / 651 yards

tiger_sock

Outgoing yarn in 2016:
1 skein Cascade 220 for Karlin’s hat (220)
half a ball of Red Heart Soft, so my SIL can learn to crochet (128)
Leftover Jacob handspun for Dave’s Sheep (50)
Leftover Andean Treasure for Dave’s Sheep (25)
Half a ball of Red Heart Buttercup for Dave’s Sheep (30)
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream to make Michael a new washcloth (150)
1 ball Opal Rainforest, for the Tiger Tiger socks (465)
2 balls Loops & Threads Impeccable for the Such a Square afghan (192 each)
1 ball handspun Fiber Optics yarn for the Gradient Hat (152)

7 balls / 1412 yards


The Year in Crafting:
I feel really good about my projects this year! I got a lot done, and more yarn out than in. (Can’t say the same about fibre, but hey, I bought half a fleece…) Everything I did this year is all together on a 2016 Projects page.

Favourite project:

Without a doubt, the Wee Sheepie.

20161018_sheep

Plans for Next Year:
More knitting! :D

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On April 4, this blog will be TEN YEARS OLD. Ten! Can you believe it? As my grandma used to say, “Who’d’a thunk it?” (And, as I’ve heard elsewhere, “how much could there possibly be to write about knitting?!” Quite a bit, as it turns out.) I’d like to release a new pattern to celebrate this significant “blogiversary,” but obviously that means starting now so that it has a chance of being ready for release in a few months.

I knew I wanted the hat to be stranded colourwork using four colours of yarn, which is outside the realm of my usual knitting – but a special anniversary calls for a special design! So I opened up Excel and started slapping colours into cells. Then there was a lot of rearranging, cutting-and-pasting, scowling, adjusting, centering, shifting, and re-adjusting. Eventually I had something I liked, so I retrieved the yarn I wanted to use (Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool) and some US size 4/3.5mm needles, and started knitting a swatch.

I knit several inches of stockinette to get a feel for the yarn, and then decided to swatch one of the motifs I’d charted. Unwisely, I failed to record the colourways and dye lots when I bought the yarn a few years ago, but the colours are a rich brown, cherry red, pale blue, and creamy white. It doesn’t quite matter, as I’m writing the pattern in two different sizes that will work with four different gauge tensions, so knitters will be able to pick the yarn they like best. This is the colour combination I like for myself, but I’ll offer a few other combination ideas in the final pattern.

Yep, I think that’s going to work just fine. The back side of the swatch is nifty-looking, too.

Once I’d measured and taken pictures, I unraveled the yarn and wound each colour back onto its respective ball. The swatch is pretty, but ultimately useless – and I might need that yarn before I’m done with the hat!

The hardest part of designing a pattern isn’t the charting, the writing, or the test-knitting… it’s coming up with a good name. “Four-Colour Hat” is all right for a working title, I guess, but it won’t do for the long term. Suggestions are welcome, of course! (Just not “Blogiversary Hat”. That would be silly.)

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Hello, friends! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been super-busy! Most of the year so far has been swallowed up by the process of packing, cleaning, fixing, selling one house, and moving into another. Whooo! But now that is pretty much taken care of. The mountain house has been sold, and while I miss it, I know it was the right decision. The new house is lovely, but a time-consuming work in progress as I unpack and arrange everything just so. But today I took a break from all of that and went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival with a friend.

We bought a fleece.

2016MDSW_with_fleece

I hadn’t had plans to buy anything in particular; packing up my yarn to move had helped me realize that my hobby has become more about collecting yarn and fibre than actually doing anything with it, and that’s not the road I want to go down. So I haven’t actually purchased any yarn since my birthday in January, when I bought just one 50g skein of white sock yarn for a specific project and purpose. It’s not that I was opposed to buying something today, it’s just that I wasn’t planning to. I was open to the possibilities, of course.

So we went into the fleece show and sale, and were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over one too-expensive merino cross in particular, when a lovely volunteer whose Ravelry name I promptly forgot (sorry!) came over to ask if we had any questions. The next thing we knew, we were following her all over the barn, sticking our hands into giant bags of fleeces and discussing their relative merits… and then we found The One.

It’s an eight-pound merino/rambouillet cross, it’s a lovely dark brown with silvery bits, and it was in our budget. So we bought it. I took a couple more pictures after I got it home:

2016MDSW_fleece1

2016MDSW_fleece2

Anyway, we dropped the fleece off in the car and did a bit more shopping, and then I tried out my camera’s zoom lens on the herding demonstrations. I think it worked pretty well:

2016MDSW_herding1

2016MDSW_herding2

2016MDSW_herding3

We couldn’t hear a word of the explanations, but it was still really cool to watch the dogs happily doing their work. They’re obviously having a great time out there; border collies need to have a job and these dogs were just so eager to get out and do what they were meant to do. At times I could swear they were laughing at the sheep!

The fleece-cleaning will begin in a couple of weeks, and then we’ll decide whether we’re going to comb or card. Our goal is to have it all ready for the Tour de Fleece in July – how great will it be to do the TdF with an actual fleece this year?

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Over on Ravelry, the Remrants group is hosting a Colour Your Winter Craft-A-Long challenge – to finish a colourwork pattern before 31 March. Works-in-progress are acceptable entries, but I decided to start my year off with the challenge of designing a new hat in four shades of DK-weight yarn: brown, tan, red, and light blue.

My first attempt at two-colour ribbing didn’t have a nice edge, so I started over. My second attempt curled up far too much, so I started over. For the third attempt, I changed tactics and tried a two-colour brioche rib, a technique that’s completely new to me. Unfortunately, the instructions I found had left out a bit of important information, which is that even on knit rows, stitches are slipped with the yarn in front. So I started over. Again.

20160110_brioche_fail

The fourth try was the charm, and I have some two-colour brioche on the needles now. It’s reversible, so my plan is to knit enough to have a fold-up brim, which allows for the wearer to adjust the length of the hat…

20160111_brioche_win

…but my gauge for the width was totally off, and I think the finished hat might end up being two or three inches too large for my small head. That’s okay, because I’d wanted to write the pattern for two sizes, so I guess this one is going to be the larger. I’m also planning to design and knit a matching set of fingerless gloves and/or mittens!

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This is the official end of 2015 tallying-up post!


Incoming fibre:

None. Zero, zip, zilch. That took a lot of willpower!

Outgoing fibre:
4 ounces Bonkers merino-tencel, spun into 250 yards of two-ply
4 ounces Bullens Wullens merino-silk-bamboo, spun into 105 squooshy yards of chain-ply
4 ounces Rambouillet, spun up forever ago, finally chain-plied into 268 yards
quite a lot of mystery wool, spun longdraw, 922 yards of two-ply

12 oz plus however much mystery wool there is; I didn’t weigh it.

20150711_tdf15_plying


Incoming yarn:
1 ball Cascade 220 Superwash in gray (220)
2 balls Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Serpentine (294)
2 balls Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Peppercorn (294)

5 balls / 808 yards

Outgoing yarn:
1 ball Cascade 220 Superwash, Dave’s Hat (220)
.66 ball Lily Sugar & Cream in Pink Camo for a washcloth (100)
1 ball Knit Picks Andean Treasure for Stef’s Handwarmers (110)
1.5 balls Jo Sharp Classic DK wool for my own handwarmers (160)
2 balls Patons Kroy in Summer Moss Jacquard, sold (332)
2 balls “Starry Night” handspun given to Mom (256)
.33 ball Knit Picks Andean Treasure and half a ball each of gray and white Cascade 220 Superwash for Michael’s Bicolour Hat (37, 220)
2 balls Noro Silk Garden sock for the Rhinebeck Shawl (656)
1 skein handspun merino/silk for Mom to make a hat for Grandma (170)
2 balls Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in Peppercorn, Michael’s new Fleeps (294)
1 ball Berroco Sox for a pair of mindless stockinette socks (440)
1 ball Loops & Threads Impeccable for the Such a Square afghan (192)

16.5 balls / 3187 yards

Plus, Dad gave me this awesome yarn bowl:
dad_yarnbowl1


The Year in Crafting:
I feel really good about my projects this year! I got a lot done. They’re all together on a 2015 Projects page.

Favourite project:
It was a tossup between the Bicolour Hat and this, but I gotta say… it’s the Schultertuch. I loved making it! I still don’t know when or how or where to wear it, but it’s gorgeous and I love just looking at it.

schultertuch_finished


Patterns Published:
Only one this year, the Carved Lines Armwarmers – I’m really happy with the shape of these! I have a bunch of ideas for new patterns too, including a colourwork hat that I charted out a few weeks ago, lacy socks, cabled socks, mittens… it’s a long list!

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