Almost counts in knitting

Hello from somewhere over Wyoming. I’m attempting to blog from an iPad in transit, so if you’re reading this, I am a champ. I’m on my way to the east coast, where I am very excited to spend a couple days with a dear friend, and to see how this half marathon goes. But more importantly, I am flying across the country in a gold cardigan. In THE gold cardigan, to be precise.

It wasn’t exactly the triumphant completion I anticipated for this week. If you recall, the last time you saw it, it looked quite vest-like. Since then, I have knit three sleeves. Yes, the final includes only two, but getting two required knitting three. The first bonus knitting I attribute to the pattern, which included some vague instructions for knitting the sleeves top-down to avoid seaming, which sounded pretty good to me. Until I had the first half of a sleeve done and it gave the appearance that I had a large tumor growing on my shoulder. So it got ripped out, and then to avoid more trial-and-error I opted to knit the sleeves flat. Which worked out alright until I got about 2/3 done with the second one and realized that the cuff was 4 rows longer than the first. So back it went, and the fourth go turned out to be the charm.

I had allowed a week for finishing, and thought I was right on schedule… But gads is seaming slow going. At least it is for me. Which is the only explanation I have for how I found myself weaving in ends and sewing buttons on at 9p last night.

Also crucial was deciding that one ill-placed pocket looks totally fine. For now. Because the second pocket is sitting in my knitting basket and I’m not looking forward to unpicking the seam on the other, but I’m determined to get the finishing right on this sweater. So it also needs buttonhole reinforcement and a ribbon to stabilize the placket, all in good time. My goal was to fly cross country in a gold cardigan and I’m wearing it, dammit.

Photographic evidence coming soon.

A wurm hat, socks, and an epic sweater

DSC_3396 DSC_3401 DSC_3403 DSC_3404Since I finished the sunburst baby blanket last month, my knitting has been all over the place. Once the end was in sight on the baby blanket, I started thinking about what would be next and settled pretty quickly on a sweater project. I’ve had visions of the perfect gold, v-neck, grandpa-style cardigan for ages.

Actually, it really has been years. I vaguely remember adding one to my Ravelry queue when I picked up knitting in 2009. Then I came across the perfect gold lamb’s wool cardigan in a store in Portland, Maine back in 2011. It’s price was commensurate with it’s perfection, and I didn’t seriously consider shelling out. But I still remember. And I’ve returned to that store, years later, not in any absurdly vain hope that I would see it again, but just to brush up against the memory of it’s glory, and to remind myself that I was still on the path to my own. (I’m sure this is completely normal.)

So, I was ready to take on the gold grandpa-sweater of my imagination. One week at knit night I dug through every shelf and corner of my favorite local yarn store and found some wool, colorway “calendula”, that fit the bill. They didn’t have a sweater’s worth, but it could be procured, and I had a plan.

And then I finished the blanket, and I didn’t have the gold yarn yet, so I knit a hat to occupy my hands for a week. A wurm hat, to be exact, in shetland wool with a soft merino/silk lining on the band.

I keep a sock-in-progress in my desk at all times, to get me through the most gruelingly dry meetings, and sometimes it sits for weeks or months without any visible progress. And then there are stretches like the last month, when a whole pair of socks appeared as I tried desperately to stay sane.

Still, there was no gold yarn in. I cast on a baby hat a few days before chickenfest, and finally got word that my sweater yarn had arrived. So the baby hat was finished and sent out into the world on the head of its recipient before I could snap a photo. And that afternoon, I picked up a whole armful of gold wool.

It’s not much of a start to a sweater yet, but I’m pretty much in love with it. Did I mention there will be pockets?

Sunburst baby blanket

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DSC_3350Behold, a completed baby blanket!

If you recall, I started this project armed with Elizabeth Zimmermann’s brilliant and elegantly simple pi shawl “pattern” and a vague inspiration of a sunburst. For the non-knitters among you, this basically means that I had a rough idea of the construction but no specific plan, of my own or someone else’s devising. I also had a very finite amount of yarn.

As you might expect, this led to some interesting trial-and-error knitting and re-knitting. But it was also wonderfully freeing, and meant that at each stage of the project I was busy dreaming up what would come next, which turns out it is a really good way to keep up your interest. (Well, almost. I may have used the word “drudgery” to describe finishing the edging. There was no more blanket planning to be done so my mind moved on to scheming a new sweater. But it’s done so all is forgiven.)

In the end, the central starburst and concentric rings are exactly what I imagined they would be. My original plan was to transition directly from the plain rings to a wide edging with much deeper points and more pattern. I swatched several options but couldn’t find a compromise between the amount of yarn I had and a design that I liked, so I ended up ditching that idea and revising the plan. By the time I conceded defeat on the wide edging, I was out of patience for dreaming up ideas and ready to make some quick progress, so I opted for borrowing a couple charts from a similar shawl pattern.

It wasn’t my favorite option at the time, but I am happy with the look of them, so I think it was a good decision. And I was still able to do a simple edging to satisfy my firm conviction that it should be finished with points rather than any kind of smooth edge. Also, in a most gratifying way, my math worked out so I successfully finished with enough yarn that I never seriously worried about running short but not so much that I felt like I could have squeezed anything more in.

One of the three skeins was noticeably darker than the other two – not shocking for a hand-dyed yarn, but I didn’t notice until I had knit the entire outlier into the center of the shawl. So we’re calling that sharp line of contrast just beyond the outermost ring a design element. I wouldn’t have chosen it, but I didn’t hate it enough to do the major ripping required to change it. Side note: yes, that means that the outer part of the blanket that is lighter is twice as much yarn as the entire center. Circular geometry sort of blows my mind. Still.

Perhaps the only thing more mind-blowing is the fact that this babe isn’t expected for nearly three months yet. I’m feeling seriously smug about that kind of time management. (Note to universe: not that smug, please be kind.)

My first pattern release!

IMG_3436 IMG_3430 DSC_3124I’m super excited to tell you (finally!) that my very first published knitting pattern is out! Today! I’m hugely honored to be part of the new issue of Knitty. You can also see it here on Ravelry.

Over the last year or so, my propensity to freely modify every pattern tipped over that line into just knitting whatever it was I imagined. With the aid of a similar-ish pattern if it was handy; or not, if it wasn’t. Which is pretty much exactly how this scarf pattern happened.

By which I mean that’s pretty much exactly how I decided this scarf pattern was going to happen. And then came the steep learning curve regarding all the steps involved in getting from a completed scarf and “pattern” to an actual publishable pattern for said scarf. I don’t want to talk about the number of considered and discarded names. Or how awkward a wrapped cowl looks as soon as you try to style it to look natural.

Mostly it was fun and of course, I learned a ton. First and foremost, that I need to rope someone else into modeling because yowzers is that painful for me. And anyone else involved. (This is not new information, but somehow I still decided to overlook it.)

Secondly, if I have a calling in the world of knitting, it is most certainly technical editing. There’s someone whose JOB it is to check all of the knitting math (not that there was much number-crunching involved in this one, but I very much enjoy knitting math so it’s still the top of the list), ensure precision of language, and generally put everything in order. I also like precision and order rather a lot. I could happily spend hours immersed in these parts.

As much as the process has been fun and educational, it seems like this project has been in the background forever, so I’m thrilled to call it “complete” and see it out in the world.

(Yes, this is a scarf pattern in June. Knitters are generally accustomed to advance planning, and it’s not like a scarf is going to sit in your lap and make your legs sweat.)

Spring knitting

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IMG_0826I’ve been fitting in some knitting time between all the outdoor projects of this season. Never enough, of course, but enough that I think we are due for a check-in. I finished this hat a week or two ago, and gave it a good trial when we camped over the weekend. I’m happy to report that it passed with flying colors, which means that I still like the fit and it stayed on my head through a whole night of sleeping-on-the-ground rotisserie action. The yarn is Loft, from Brooklyn Tweed, which I fall in love with a little bit more each time I knit with it. It’s lightweight, but fluffy and soft and woolly in the absolute best sense. And I managed to finish the hat with exactly five feet left, which meant it got contrasting tassels.

Most of my recent knitting time has been spent on another baby blanket project. Which mostly looks like a vaguely octopus-like blob:
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Which means while it is really satisfying to knit, it is terrifically uninteresting to blog about. If I arrange the blob just so, I can make it look slightly more interesting…IMG_0841But this view has looked the same for ages, because it’s reached the size where it’s only growing in the part that you can’t really see. It’s a rather unconventional choice for a baby blanket but I had a strong urge to knit a circular blanket when it was time to start this project and I’m pretty confident that these parents will happily roll with unconventional. I also decided to make up the pattern as I went, which has resulted in a fair number of extra hours spent in some version of this:

2015-05-15 17.34.02bThere’s also the added excitement that I’m knitting with a very finite amount of yarn (it came from a closeout bin a few years ago), so without a pattern the yardage math is rather high stakes. Which is exactly why that elaborate edging I was graphing out above got nixed – there’s a chance I would have had enough yarn, but not a chance that I was willing to take. I have three skeins of yarn and I’m barreling down the home stretch of number two, feeling awfully anxious to see if it holds out as long as I calculated it would. And by “barreling down”, understand that I’m at least a couple hours of knitting away from the end, but I’ve been knitting extra fast. Because no amount of rational thinking will convince me that I can’t fit more stitches into that yarn if I just knit a little faster. Stay tuned, folks, the knitting spreadsheets may get exciting.

 

 

Iceland for spring

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I have a new sweater! It’s extra-cozy, and I finished it just in time for a stretch of warm spring weather. I’m sure there will be plenty of wool-appropriate weather ahead, but must admit the thrill is slightly tarnished. Not that I’ve let a little sunshine deter me from wearing it for the last three days, slight overheating be damned.

It’s an Icelandic yoked sweater in both design and yarn, Asta Sollilja from Kate Davies to be precise. I followed the pattern more closely than usual, even using the exact yarn and palette and I’m really happy with the results. It’s been a couple years since I have knit the kind of versatile, warm sweater that I might pull on daily. I wanted something that wouldn’t think twice about on the cool mornings in my office and that I would feel good about wearing around town. I think I got just that.

I also really enjoyed the process of knitting this one. The combination of worsted weight yarn and some colorwork to assay any boredom meant it went by quickly. The yoked sweater is one of the classic knitting designs that has been on my list of knitting I really wanted to explore for awhile. Making this one gave me all sorts of ideas for future projects and designs. Maybe next fall. I don’t know exactly what spring-appropriate knitting is or isn’t but I’m feeling like any more cozy sweaters are out.

Limbs (of the knitted sort)

2015-02-25 12.26.29I was thinking today that it was probably time for a knitting update. It’s a rather unsatisfying update, because my primary knitting project of late is a secret one. Isn’t that horrible? I’ve tried not to even mention it, but it is finally and gloriously complete after a protracted finishing phase that involved as many time-outs and re-dos as a backyard baseball game of 8-year-olds. But we’re not talking about that.

So, non-secret knitting… Mostly it amounts to a couple of limbs. Which weirded me out just a bit when I went to mine my knitting basket for works-in-progress today. On the left is most of a leg that will become a pair of nether garments (I wish I could take credit for that name, but it’s a pattern from the 1960s and apparently that’s what the proper house-ladies called their longies). I knit a pair when I first started knitting again, maybe five years ago, that I wear quite a lot, so decided it was time to add a second to the collection. The stripes are because I’m using up leftover yarn from another project, but I’m pretty happy with them so far.

On the right is an arm; an arm of Asta Sollilja, an Icelandic yoked sweater by Kate Davies, to be precise. I was a little unsure of my gauge, so I decided to knit an arm first, figuring that if I needed to adjust things, or re-knit it, it would be a whole lot less investment than the body. I’m pretty excited about that sweater – I’m actually knitting it in the exact yarn and colors suggested in the pattern, which tells you something about how much I liked it. And it turns out the gauge of that sleeve is just what I expected, so I’m planning to cast on the body tonight!

It’s that time of year when I can feel the pull toward outdoor projects and other priorities, but I can’t quite believe that I can’t squeeze in a few more winter knitting projects. I might very well get these both done and wear them all spring, or they might sit until fall, it’s hard to say.

Fickle pickle

IMG_3263IMG_3264IMG_3266I finally finished this little knit I’ve dubbed my pickle sweater, only half a year after starting it. As is obvious, it’s really not that much knitting nor is any of it very tricky knitting, so the truth is it sat in my knitting basket for most of that time.

It is a classic case study in my fickleness as a knitter. When I cast on last summer, it was about the only thing in my basket, and I was more than happy to plug away on it in my sporadic summer knitting time. Then, before I could get too far, a baby blanket came along with a deadline and demanded to be foremost in the knitting queue. Followed very shortly thereafter by a cardigan knit-along. For a couple months, I wanted to be knitting nothing but this sweater with it’s woolly yarn (colorway: pickle!) and basic fabric while I had smooth yarns and lace patterns in my hands.

This sweater had lovely yarn and an interesting pattern and the suspense of a limited supply of yarn and very real concerns about whether said yarn supply would hold out. Of course I snuck in some illicit progress while neglecting other projects.

And then, then! I finished those other projects and nothing stood between me and the pickle sweater. And then I knit a bit more on it and got just far enough to slip it on for a (very preliminary) fit check and decided the fit was off and promptly lost all interest in finishing it.

So it returned to it’s comfortable place in the bottom of my knitting basket for weeks. I finally got curious enough to just finish the damn thing over the holidays, and it took an embarrassingly few hours to do so. And then after a further week of ignoring it, I blocked it. And it blocked out to almost precisely the pattern measurements I was aiming for.

And that is the story of how a fickle knitter (eventually) gets the sweater she set out to create at the start, in the least straightforward way possible.

PS (Can I add a PS? This isn’t exactly a letter, but it seems more appropriate than, say, an epilogue. I digress.) Would you take a look at the actual sunshine in those photos? And shirtsleeves? That is not a combination that occurs here in January. But it did, briefly, this last week and it was blissful.

Knitted bits

IMG_3238 IMG_3092 IMG_3097It’s been a month or so, so must be time for another knitting project update. As you can see, the last month has been all about hats and scarfs and anything that I can finish in a few winter days. Call it a reaction to one too many blanket and sweater projects through the fall.

The near-instant gratification has been hugely satisfying. And frankly, our hat drawer needed a little new life. Somehow, it had been a couple of years since I had knit a hat for either Dean or me. And then I lost my favorite when it fell out of my pocket walking in Seattle. I seem to have cooled a bit on hats right now, but I don’t think I’m done with this jag yet. Plus, without any foresight, I managed to turn my dear husband into a woodland gnome. What’s not to love, really?

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The scarf was the one bit of holiday knitting I did this year. It was a simple design so I didn’t follow a pattern and ended up with a bit of a monster. I didn’t realize until it was too late that my design resulted in my having to cut the yarn for every stripe, and therefore weave in two ends for every four rows of knitting. Those ends were madness; I think the finishing took as long as the knitting. Luckily, that really wasn’t that long. I rarely knit with bulky yarn so when I do it’s always amazing how fast it goes. In the end, I was really happy with how it came out and it’s owner loves it, too. Totally worth the tedium of weaving in a gazillion ends.

December time machine

Holy smokes, a whole week just up and disappeared. I know I was just here writing to you, and now it’s the 12th of December. Maybe the days were swallowed up by the dark. Perhaps I can distract you from the utter silence with more knitting pictures? It seems that I’ve been knitting a lot of orange lately. Which isn’t exactly a problem in my world, I quite like orange, and it’s a pretty good antidote to the overwhelming greyness of December.

First up, I bring you a pair of convertible mitts, knit for my nephew Porter’s birthday earlier this month:

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I used the trick of doubling up sock yarn in place of worsted, and realized it opened up a whole new world when knitting for superwash folk. I modified the pattern to suit an 11-year old about as many ways as one could, including the convertible thumb (it’s functional design, sometimes you just need the use of your uncovered thumb).

Next up is a summery lace cardigan, because who doesn’t need one of those in December? I started this back in September, when there was still enough sun that it seemed totally rational, and it was absolutely the result of some peer pressure from several members of the knitting group who were doing it together. It crawled along for about a month and a half and I was just about ready to abandon it to the bin of projects I might finish eventually… But then I finished the baby blanket that was an awfully similar stitch pattern and my apathy for this project evaporated. Woohoo! So now it’ll likely sit in the closet for a few months but I’ll just call it a little bit of tangible hope that spring will indeed come again.

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But wait, there’s more! A little more than half this pair of socks was knit on our canoe trip back in August. But I don’t sit down to knit socks at home, they mostly get tucked in a purse for knitting on the go or during a meeting, so it took until now to finish the second one. I’m perfectly fine with non-matching socks but a knot in the middle of this skein (that leapt ahead in the very long color repeat) meant that these are especially distantly related. Call them cousins.IMG_3049

Baby blanket the third

IMG_2955IMG_2958IMG_2960It’s done! And not a moment too soon, as the intended recipient arrived a little earlier than expected yesterday. I think this particular bundle awaits on their front stoop.

The yarn was a splurge from Swan’s Island, the pattern a simple outline from a recent Taproot magazine. There is just enough gradient in the pale blue to complement the wave-like stitches and the end result is very soft and squishy in a way that’s pretty hard to resist.

Hat surgery

thorpe surgeryI made this hat as a gift for my nephew just about a year ago. It was a quick and fun knit, following by some easy crocheting to finish off the edge that was more than a little painful for me because well, I can’t crochet to save my life. It was shipped off, welcomed, end of story, right? Of course not, because we’re still talking about it.

Later last winter I got word that it was worn, but that it involved a regular bit of tugging; back to cover an exposed neck, down to warm a cold forehead… it was just a bit small. I was bummed that it wasn’t as useful as I had hoped, but not gutted – it’s inevitable that some projects will languish in a bin. But this one didn’t go away to hide in the bottom of a bin, it came back with a request for modification. And it’s awfully hard to say no to a kid that actually wants to wear your knitting, so I agreed to attempt a fix.

This was a top-down hat so it might have been really easy to rip back and add some more length, but there was that crochet border! I let it marinate for awhile and the obvious solution struck me. So after a bit more waiting to get my nerve up, I snipped and unpicked the last row right above the garter section, which was tedious but straightforward. From there it was a simple matter to add another inch of length to the hat, and then I could sew it back together and I even had the garter transition to mask any wonkiness.

Success! I’m feeling rather smugly satisfied that I managed to both a) make an unwearable hat wearable, and b) avoid evil crochet.

In other knitting news… I bound off the baby blanket last night! Pictures forthcoming, I’ll wrap up the finishing and block it over the weekend.

The state of the knitting

Thank you to Vicki for asking about my “pickle sweater” reference in the prior post and so effectively reminding me that there’s a slight difference between the level of familiarity with my knitting projects in my head and everywhere else. So allow me to reacquaint you a bit.

First up is the baby blanket. I think I’d really like this project, but it’s on a deadline and therefore needs to be regularly attended to, and I’ve grown to rather resent its neediness this way. 4.5 balls down, 1.5 to go, which I’m pretty sure is like “just over the hill” in that it sounds a whole lot closer than it feels in the getting there. Anyway, my deadline is the end of this month so I’ll let you know soon enough.

IMG_2887The second is a lace cardigan that I’m doing as a knit-along with a group from my local yarn shop’s knit night crew, so there’s plenty of peer pressure to keep on it. I thought it would be my “backup” project while I was working on the baby blanket, but unfortunately I completely underestimated how similar a cardigan and a blanket could be. At this point, they are both big rectangles of remarkably similar lace knit with rather slippery yarn. So pretty much everything that might annoy me about the blanket also applies here. Fail.

IMG_2886And finally, there is the pickle sweater, so named only in my head and only because it’s the colorway of the yarn. Although it might as well be the forbidden fruit. This is the project that has no deadline, that no one but me cares if I ever finish, and it’s what I most want to knit most days. Probably due in large part to the fact that it’s a lovely wooly yarn that doesn’t slip and there’s not a yarn-over to be found.
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So there you have it, the full tour of my knitting basket.

October

Taking stock a bit today… what do the first days of October look like here?

The garden is put to bed. It’s always hard to let go of the possibility held by still-green tomatoes but we got a frost while we were away to the east coast so we took the cue to shift from harvest to clean-up mode. Took advantage of a couple beautiful fall days and some willing friends visiting to pull everything out, do a final till of the weeds, and sow a winter cover. Few things in our life get tidied up neatly and on schedule, but damn if it doesn’t feel good when it happens.

Making time for running this month, and thinking about it even more. I’m about six weeks out from my first half-marathon. I’m right about where I hoped to be in terms of training, but the closer it gets the more I want to try to squeeze in. Like maybe if I just do a few extra workouts it’ll feel much easier. Realistically, I just need to stay consistent as the mornings get progressively darker and colder and wetter.

I have less than a week to play with scarf designs and then I really need to get back to the baby blanket that is due in two months. It sounds like plenty of time but I know that it will take me four weeks of solid knitting time to finish it and not every week is solid knitting time. See also: two sweaters on the needles.

September seems to have flown by in a blur of transitions…. Summer turned into fall, light into dark, green into gold. Such a contrast to August which felt so languorous and spacious. Ahh, October. What have you got for us?

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A rush of creativity

2014-10-02 07.18.50I’ve been designing knitted scarfs in my head for the last two weeks. There have also been many spreadsheets and scraps of paper and knitted swatches involved, but it’s felt like an experience happening very much in my head. More than once, I’ve woken up in the morning already thinking about a design idea. I found myself walking down the street looking at passersby and window displays with the singular filter of translating elements into knitted neckwear.

Generally speaking, I like “making” more than “creating”. Not mindless making, but the sort where there’s a solid structure and just enough room to think and play a little. Definitely not the sort where you start with a blank slate and pull ideas out of the ether. I’m not sure exactly what prompted this latest spell, but something about the return of fall and jumping into a whole pile of knitting projects got the wheels turning and they just sort of started barreling downhill.

So I’ve been trying to ride this wave of creative energy, to enjoy the rush and collect as much fruit as possible and not become so consumed as to completely neglect the rest of my life (with admittedly mixed success). It’s a wild ride, to be sure, especially for someone so unaccustomed to the experience, but it’s a special kind of exhilarating, too. I can see how one could want more of this in one’s life.

On the needles

Despite the continued warm and sunny days here, the signs of summer’s end are pretty much impossible to ignore at this point. Including the fact that my knitting needles have been back in daily use. I don’t really stop knitting over the summer, but it happens in fits and starts, as it fits. Until something ticks inside and I find myself staying up too late to sneak in just a few more rows, and again in the morning before work while I begrudge how much good knitting time is ruined by work. (I’ll admit to a bit of knitting during work, but I don’t have many meetings of that sort.)

Between spells of actual knitting, I’ve wasted untold hours in the past couple weeks browsing patterns on Ravelry, so I’m ready to cast on about half a dozen sweaters. I know exactly how long it would take me to finish even one of those projects, but it just doesn’t seem possible that I couldn’t fit them all in… maybe before the holidays even. I’d need to bend the time-space continuum, but it’s hard to worry about such details while I’m obsessing over what yarn would be ideal for my new cardigan.

The sweater currently on the needles looks awfully boring right now because I’m in the middle of a vast expanse of plain stockinette knitting on the body of it. But it’s an exciting project for two reasons: 1. I’m in love with the yarn, some Rowan Felted Tweed DK that I picked up on super-sale in North Dakota last summer. I always love tweeds and this shade of green was made for me. I’m certain of this because even though the ball band lists the color only as some cryptic code, when I entered it on my project page in Ravelry, the magic database assured me that the actual name of this color is “pickle”. Pickle! Which brings us to exciting reason #2… I only have 4 balls of this yarn, and I’m adjusting the pattern for a different weight of yarn and really it’s a giant gamble and I’m either going to finish triumphantly with 5 feet of yarn left or I’m going to knit 98% of a sweater and despair over how the hell to finish it.

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There’s also a mini baby boom happening among my circle of dearest friends, so blanket number three is on the needles:

IMG_0438There’s never been a less photogenic yarn/project combination, it just keeps looking like a lump of washed-out grey but I assure you it’s actually a really lovely aquamarine. The pattern is simple but the yarn is gorgeous and crazy soft… a combination that I’m hoping will keep us on good terms. This one has a November deadline so I’m doing ok but there’s really no time for a love/hate relationship.

And then there’s this:

IMG_0431That’s just yarn, not actually a work in progress just yet. But soon. My local yarn shop is starting a knit-along for a cardigan beginning the end of this month. Reason would indicate that I don’t really have time to squeeze in an extra sweater project this fall but we’ve already established that reason doesn’t have the strongest hold just now. So I decided to jump, and promised myself that I would not knit another brown sweater. (I love brown sweaters, don’t get me wrong, but some wardrobe diversity is nice, too.) When I went to pick out yarn last week, I found myself holding a gorgeous mocha colorway and had to invoke the “not another brown sweater” promise and search a little harder and I came up with this orange. It’s more copper-y than it looks in the photo (clearly capturing shades of yarn is not exactly my strong point), so Dean has taken to calling it orangish-brown, but I think it’s a clear departure. And I totally have time for a coppery orange sweater project.

Plans, shmans. Or feet, shmeet.

This weekend did not go according to plan. Which is ironic, perhaps, given how many times I was asked about my plans (given that it was my birthday) and the fact that each time I responded with, “no real plans, just a day to do as I please and take it easy.” In retrospect, I’d clarify that. I’d like a Saturday with a long run, some guilt-free crafting time, and some outside pottering followed by a very productive Sunday catching up on house and garden chores.

Instead, I got two days chock full of sitting with a bonus trip to the radiology department. Still waiting on word whether the anger in my left foot is strictly related to soft tissue damage or whether there is bone involved. I’m tempted to say it doesn’t really matter, although I guess one might heal faster than the other and that surely does matter a whole lot. Because I am really feeling quite over this sitting thing. Already.

At the least, I feel like I should have a good story of how I got into this mess. But I’ve got nothing. I was at physical therapy Friday morning (playing it conservative on the running issues), doing an exercise that involved running/stepping up and down from a wooden box quickly when I missed the landing on one step, hit the edge of the wooden box, and landed back on the ground. It didn’t feel like any trauma at the time, it smarted to a degree I attributed entirely to the intersection of bare skin and the edge of the box. But it’s been pretty much a downhill slide from there.

Since I’m searching for upsides I can report that I did indeed get some crafting hours this weekend. I knit a second sock to complete a pair I cast on as travel knitting back in December. They’re nothing pretty but I do love thick worsted-weight socks, even in the summer, so I’m happy to add a new pair to my drawer. I finally searched out some heavy sock yarn that is 80% wool/20% nylon so hopefully these will be a bit more durable than my current stock, which are lovely to wear but the yarn was never intended for socks and I am forever having to re-darn them.

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I also got a small start on the wool braided rug project. I’m still learning the best way to hold and fold the wool as I braid which is a bit trickier than the lightweight cottons I used on the last rug, but otherwise it’s going well.

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I’m working on the second sleeve of a cardigan that I started last summer and then the knitting works-in-progress will be cleared. Which explains why I felt the irresistible compulsion to rummage through my yarn stash this morning and scatter it all over the floor exploring ideas for what I shall cast on next. The possibilities of a new project never fail to cheer me up, at least for a bit…

Update: It’s just a flesh wound. (No really, x-rays were clear.)

Sprout baby blanket… finally

Relief, sweet relief. The blanket beat the baby to the finish line, and I am carefree to scheme new projects. Phew.

I really thought this blanket was going to be done a month ago. Or more. There was nothing difficult about it, I never reached a point of hating it, there were no big discouraging set-backs requiring time apart to forgive and forget. But it just lingered, some might say languished, in my knitting basket. It’s biggest offense was coming immediately on the heels of my first baby blanket project. I’ve been knitting baby blankets for most of the last eight months. By which I mean, of course, that I was knitting on them off and on and generally not knitting on anything else in that time.

I thought I would immediately cast on a hat, or pick up a pair of socks, or something of that sort that would offer near-instant gratification in comparison. But while the blanket was still drying from its first wash, I was sorting wheels of wool and planning my next braided rug. Which is another huge project and seems like a terrible option for the sporadic craft time of summer, but I just couldn’t resist. Maybe I’ll get my fix and then tuck it away until fall. We shall see.

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Baby blanket knitting

Two dear friends are expecting little boys this June. Days apart, and days from my birthday. Yes, it’s vain but I can’t help but feel a bit of extra kinship with them for the coincidence. Two new Gemini in my little world, surely that requires some anticipatory love in the form of woolly knits. And so it is that I’m currently knitting my second baby blanket.

When I started knitting a few years back, my motivation was clear: I like woolly hand-knit items. And not a lot has changed since then. Mostly I think, “I would really like to have a __________” and then I figure out how to make said thing. So while I have gifted a fair number of hats and mitts and the occasional pair of socks, the blankets have been my first larger-scale knitting projects intended for others.

It’s so cliché I can’t even stand it but it really is all about putting love into physical form, and damn if that isn’t gratifying. The universe seems to be setting things straight for these people I care about so fiercely and I’m full of gratitude and hope and joy and… I can spend hours transmitting that energy into yarn and needles. Plus knitting for babies eliminates most of the annoying risk that all that love will become a dust collector because it’s the wrong size/style/shade of blue.

Here’s the first blanket, in its finished state:

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I used a light fingering weight merino and a pattern based on traditional hap shawls (details here on Ravelry). It was a construction that I hadn’t done before – after knitting the central square, stitches are picked up and the lace section is knit in the round and then the final edging is knitted on. No part of it was especially complicated, but it wasn’t mindless knitting either – a lesson I learned (or not) so many times I lost track. I started to think of the rows in the lace border sort of like levels in an old-school video game. I’d die, and get set back a few levels (rows) and hope that I’d get a few rows farther before being foiled again… “Row 32! That’s a personal record!”

The second is a much more traditional blanket pattern with a simple lace pattern repeated over the entire body of the blanket. I was a little worried that I would get bored and hate it, but I’m approaching the halfway point and so far it’s gone quickly and I’m quite enjoying it. It’s not completely mindless, but it’s definitely comfort knitting. So far, it mostly looks like a lump. And one that photographs to a curiously different shade of green than it appears in real life. Hmm…

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