Friday, August 15, 2014

i wasn't built for this

My mom and I did our own knit-along (KAL) this year. I barely mentioned it here because we both had lots of problems with the pattern. There were fits and starts and start-overs, much frogging and exasperation due to ambiguities in the pattern. She finally finished hers a little bit ago and send me a picture. I picked mine up and put it down again many times, finally blocked the front and back pieces last week, and today took my first selfie of the work-in-progress:

The neckline is approximately below the boobage.

This actually looks worse than it is. The sweater, in case you're wondering, is the aptly, though not elegantly, named Scoop-Neck Pullover from the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of Vogue Knitting.

I believe the editors are working pretty hard on conserving space on pattern instructions, because this one was not for the faint of heart. My mom and I are both pretty dang experienced knitters, and we were both perplexed more than once in the process of making this thing together. She'd call me in consternation over the mesh pattern (the part inelegantly draped over my mid-section in the above picture), and I would throw my rat's nest of moss-colored yarn down in frustration every few days to knit something else like ribbed socks.

I mean to document more of our process here, but it was all so frustrating that I didn't bother. Hers is done, though she claims it's too big and she needs to redo it. Mine is in the state you see above - blocked but not assembled, and the neckline is obviously huge.

Seriously. Maybe if my boobs sagged just a little more that would look okay, but it's like the sweater was designed for someone with, well, a much different figure than the one I've got. My mom actually had the same issue, even though she is, ahem, differently endowed than I am, and she tells me the neck improves quite a bit when you pick up the stitches for the finishing work. I sure hope she's right.

Meantime, I spent a little time this afternoon attaching the sleeves and ignoring the excruciating complaints of my children, who had stretched a 10-minute toy pick-up into more than an hour of whining and rolling around on the floor instead of freaking putting the wooden marble set into its box for pete's sake so we could go to the park.

Then we went to the park and they complained they were bored.

School starts September 3. I'll say no more about that.

Anyway, back to the sweater. It looks so nice in the magazine, and the yarn my mom and I are using (yes, we're using the same yarn and in the same color, even!) is just wonderful - Knit One, Crochet Too Cozette in the color "Moss." If I ever get this thing done and looking decent on me, I expect I'll wear it a lot.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

low tide

Well, that was fast. This knit took almost no time at all.

Let me tell you what I think of these FO shots, which were taken in the space of about five minutes before we left to have dinner with some friends:

Is it cool and artsy to clip a knitted object to the rickety clothesline and point the camera up to avoid all of our back yard junk getting in the photo?

I look worried in this picture. I am staring at my camera and hoping I'm actually in the shot because I set it on top of the car, zoomed it way in and turned on the timer. And I desperately need to do something different with my hair. Like maybe get it cut.

I had to crop out my butt in this one because I was wearing teal-colored jeans that completely clash with the blue yarn I used in this shawl.

I actually kind of like this shot! Except for the part where it looks like a sunflower is growing out of my ribs. By the way, those sunflowers are in my back yard and are currently in cahoots with a volunteer squash vine to take over the planet. Three months ago all you could see there was the neighbor's fence and an unsightly pile of mulch.

Pattern: Low Tide by cabinfour
Yarn: Enchanted Meadows Alpaca, a giant skein of sport weight (500yds, I think) in the color "blueberry." I used almost all of it, and the finished size is just right.
Sticks: size 7 circulars

Sunday, August 03, 2014

a lapful of alpaca

My Low Tide shawl is just zipping along. I'm past the halfway point already. Anticipating the garter ridges as the border approaches helps break the monotony of the ever-longer rows of stockinette stitch. Truthfully, the yarn is so soft and fuzz-buttery, I could knit a queen-sized blanket of garter stitch with it. (Maybe.)

Right before dinner this evening I tried getting a few more interesting WIP shots on the back deck. Since the shawl is currently all scrunched up on the circular needle, I set it in front of a Gerber Daisy I recently brought back to life - it's much happier now in a bigger pot with more water - but alas, what you see is a pile of knitting hulking awkwardly over some pretty pink flowers with all of my garden crap in the background.

Yes, I mean crap in the literal sense. That's a bag of bat guano there to the left of the daisies. I love gardening. Nowhere else in life can you create such beauty with a pile fact, the poop is pretty much essential. So I guess the guano in the background is appropriate after all!

Anyway, I brought my knitting to a play date and then a soccer game this afternoon, and fielded all sorts of questions like what am I making, what's the yarn, that sort of thing.  I talked about wool and knitting and prayer shawls with the grandmother of one of my daughter's friends at the soccer game. I learned that an Iraq vet I know had back surgery after his first deployment and spent his month of recovery crocheting hats for everyone in his unit because it gets cold at night in the desert. He's also a farmer, so then the subject wandered to chickens and compost and lake weed and the benefits of cover crops like clover and buckwheat. Full circle.

What does it say that I've reached a point in my life where talking about wool and compost materials with a lapful of soft, warm alpaca on a steamy summer afternoon doesn't feel unusual at all? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

feeling blue

Blah. I'm having a hard time hitting my stride lately, and feeling discouraged about a lot of little things. It's nothing important, but still. A few things have helped cheer me up today, though, like a good meal, a cup of tea, a prairie walk in the cool evening with my family (during which I found a huge patch of poison ivy, which I have gotten better at identifying lately because it is so ubiquitous and so easily confused with young box elder), and a shiny new knitting project.

Or rather, a fuzzy new knitting project! That's 500 yards of alpaca yarn I got at the Alpaca Festival a few years ago and I wasn't sure what to make with it until recently, when I stumbled across this new designer on Ravelry. This morning I cast on for Low Tide, and it's so simple and easy-going I'll probably have the whole thing done by the end of the week.

Sometimes you need something uncomplicated in your life, you know?

Saturday, July 26, 2014


My little brother had a birthday this past week, so I knit him some socks. In his 34 years, those feet of his haven't gotten any smaller, and even though I know this and I know when his birthday is (it's the same day every year, after all), I still didn't get his birthday socks done quite on time. His birthday was Tuesday, and he received them yesterday, only three days late (not bad, really).

When Joe got his package yesterday, we did a FaceTime chat so I could watch him open his presents (the kids made him a couple things, too, and sent their birthday wishes). He is pleased with his socks, noted that they are the same color as his couch, and tried them on right then and there.

They fit him better than they do me. My brother is Bigfoot!

Pattern: none in particular. I CO 64 stitches, did a 3" cuff in 2x2 ribbing, switched to garter rib for another 6", knit a eye-of-partridge heel, kept the garter rib on the top of the foot before ending in a wedge toe. I keep meaning to knit more elaborate socks, but I always return to classic, simple styles that I can do off the top of my head.
Yarn: Springvale DK in the color "Cognac" by Three Irish Girls, less than one skein per sock
Sticks: size 3 DPNs to get a gauge of about 7spi (that's how I was able to finish big socks in two weeks for size 12 feet)

(By the way, I've added even more to my destash page, and everything has pictures now. You can find it on Ravelry here.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

when colors disappoint

I am so disappointed in my Kimmswick so far! I picked out the yarn a year ago and when I finally had the opportunity to cast on, I was pretty excited. I knew the project would be kind of a long haul, but the color work looked fun and I was counting on having a pretty impressive scarf at the end of it.

I started having my doubts  a few inches in, but I kept going, and now I'm just not sure if I should continue. The colors I chose, which looked so gorgeous in their wound-up yarn cakes next to each other, look more like a kitchen from the early 1970s spat up all over my knitting needles:

I just don't like it at all. There's something about how that mustard yellow makes all the other colors kind of awful.

I don't know what to do. I adore the yarn - Quince and Co. Finch (not Chickadee, as I said previously) - the problem is purely color choice. The way I see it, I have three options:

1) Keep going, finish the scarf, and give it to someone who likes things that look like a vintage Christmas stocking.

2) Frog it, order a couple new colors to replace the ones I don't like, and start over.

3) Frog it, and use the yarn for other color projects where I need fewer colors that will look better together.

None of these solutions feels good to me, so while I mull it over, I'm going to put the scarf on hold and find another project. I have one other sweater I put down a while ago, and it's complicated, so I'll have to spend some time figuring out where I left off. That's definitely not a portable project, so I need something else, something soothing and easy but not boring. Got any ideas?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

randomly on a Saturday

1. The quick gift project isn't done. It's going to be late. I might have had it done by now but the other night I went to see this concert instead of knitting. It was totally worth it, too. You wouldn't know that  a two hour concert comprised solely of Handel arias could be that riveting, but it really was.

2. I've updated my Stash For Sale page on Ravelry. There are a few more things there, and possibly more to come. I only have so much time for knitting, after all, and there's no point in keeping yarn I only feel so-so about, especially when there are so many lovely new yarns I'd really like to try (Quince and Co, anyone?). I mean, I'm just not in the mood to spend a lot of time knitting something I can't get excited about for whatever reason and I've finally learned there isn't much point in stocking up on yarn if I don't have time to use it right away and I'm going to change my mind about it later anyway. So, for real this time, I have decided it's time I get serious about downsizing. I'm going to sell what I won't use, knit what I want, and, when I am ready, try a few new things without risking a stash explosion.

3. Babies, babies, babies! The sweater I sent to Baby Z in Oklahoma was well-received, I'm happy to say. In the past week, I've learned of two more expectant couples who shall certainly be getting hand knit items from yours truly. One is due late in the fall (girl), the other in the middle of winter (too early to know the sex, and I don't know if they plan to find out, or tell), so I have a bit of time yet. I should branch out a bit and make something other than the same old cardigan (even though I probably have enough of the same yarn to make a fourth), though, don't you agree? I'm leaning towards this lovely pile of garter stitch for at least one of them, but I'm open to suggestions I don't have a pile of baby sweater patterns at the ready for this sort of thing, right?

4. I started Kimmswick a little over a month ago and set it aside for a gift project (see #1):

The stranded knitting is fun, and I'm in no particular hurry to finish it, which is a good thing, seeing as a whole tubular scarf in fingering weight yarn is bound to take a while. I'm starting to doubt my color choices; what looked beautiful in skeins looks a little too much like a 70s throwback knitted up, but for now I plan to keep going and see what it looks like when I've worked through more of the charts. If I changed anything I'd have to start all over and buy more yarn and I don't want to do either of those things (see #2).

5. Christmas knitting. Do I want to do it this year? I need to make a decision soon. What about you?