Second time around?

Today’s daily prompt from “WordPress” is “second time around: Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

I don’t usually participate in the daily prompt because it isn’t relevant to knitting but, in this case, I think it is, if you pose it like this:

“Second time around: tell us about a knit you could make again and again without getting bored-what is it that speaks to you?

While I can’t honestly say there is anything I’d like to knit again and again, there are certainly things I have made in the past that I would like to have the time to knit once more. Not necessarily a do-over but an additional one.

The first thing that comes to mind is my: “Everyday Spring Cardi” A.K.A. “Brompton” by Alice Bell:

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This is an old, and relatively lame, photo I took back in 2009 but I had already been wearing this a good two years before that.  I made it out of Lion Brand wool-ease in the most hideous granny colored, greyish-green (apparently one of my favorites, BTW). This sweater was my standard go-to, “I have to walk the dogs/take out the trash”, cardigan until one of the dogs chewed a hole in the elbow. Even then, I continued wearing this for another year and only gave it up after realizing it wasn’t really keeping me all that warm anymore. I don’t remember much about knitting this cardigan but I do remember that it was a pretty easy knit, it had enough stitch diversity to keep it interesting and it fit well when it was finished.

Then there’s my “Nehru” AKA “Nehru Revisited” by Lori Versaci:

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Yes, it’s the same color of green but this time I think I used Cascade yarns Cherub dk whick, I’m almost certain, I got on sale as a full bag. This is the sweater I made to fill the hole left in my wardrobe by “Brompton” and it’s been doing exactly that for the last two years but I’d love to have a nicer version, one in cotton maybe for the spring/summer and possibly in a color that isn’t vomitrocious?

My “Pink Boatneck” (#2911 Neckdown Boat Neck Pullover by Diane Soucy) will almost certainly get a redo because the first one came out really big. I was actually going for “really big” when I made it but now I want one that fits and isn’t mohair!

Image This pattern is really, beyond easy. It’s written well, it’s easily adjusted and it’s so freaking basic how can you not want more than one?!

My “Wrapigan” gets worn almost as much as the “Nehru” only this one sometimes even makes it out of the house:

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This was made from Emma Fassio’s “Wrapigan” pattern only I used a heavier weight yarn than called for. I don’t remember what yarn it is but it has some alpaca in it and it’s warm. I’d like to make another one maybe in Elizabeth Lavold’s “Hempathy” for warmer weather.

My “Malabrigo Ephemera” mittens will have to be made again. I loved these mittens but, alas, after a full year of service they have gone the way of all mittens: lost, left on the counter at Starbucks or the library or some other place where, I hope, someone has picked them up and will wear them until they too leave them behind.

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I don’t make a lot of mittens but these (Ephemera by Amy Christoffers of Savory Knitting) were really perfect. They were quick and easy to make and turned out cozy, warm and just the right length up the arm.

I would love to have another “Reverse Sunflower Bag of Pure Joy” (Sunflower Satchel by Diane Bertolatti) because it’s so cool but I can honestly say I will never make another one of these.

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The knitting was easy and the result was awesome but it’s felted and daaaamn that’s a lot of knitting!

So why don’t I just remake these things if I liked them so much? The same reason I rarely read a book a second time, there just isn’t enough time!

Ravelry’s database of patterns grows bigger everyday and the list of ones I’d really like to make grows with it. Not to mention, these days, every sweater I make takes about three tries to get right,so I’m essentially making them all more than once anyway.

Leibster Award!

Last week maureen15 of Neoteric Wool nominated me for a “Liebster” award, for which I am very grateful. Being nominated for this award means A) someone likes my blog and B) someone other than the Hubbs and my mother actually reads it!

Please do me a favor and check out Neoteric Wool if you haven’t already.

What is a “Leibster” award? The research I’ve done so far (not extensive mind you) has turned up relatively little that the lovely maureen15 hadn’t already posted on her blog so I’ll just reiterate her definition for you:

This is an award given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers by fellow bloggers and it’s really a way to highlight and expand the reach of smaller blogs you like. It’s really pretty cool and, I have to say, I’m extremely flattering to be included. The rules as stated over at Neoteric Wool are:

1. Post eleven facts about myself

2. Answer the questions given to me by the person who nominated me

3. Invent eleven questions to ask people whom I wish to nominate for the award

4. Choose eleven people (with fewer than 200 followers) to give this award to and link to them in my post.

Seems pretty straight forward so let’s just get down to it.

Eleven facts about myself:

1) I lie about my height-always.

2) I hate dusting.

3) I let my dogs eat off my plate when the Hubbs isn’t looking.

4) snow makes me giddy.

5) I really love a good micro-brew.

6) I like to hang out at the library.

7) I like to iron.

8) If the Hubbs isn’t around I watch educational cartoons on PBS.

9) I prefer knitting and walking the dogs to more strenuous workouts.

10) I get up ridiculously early.

11) I’m almost 50!

2. Answer the questions given to me by the person who nominated me

Questions For My Nominees

1. What is your typical Wednesday night like? 

Walk the dogs, make dinner, eat dinner, watch TV with the Hubbs and knit until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.

2. Where would you like to travel to?

Australia and Ireland

3. What is smell that reminds you of your childhood?

Cherry pipe tobacco

4. What snack do most often reach for?

Oranges or salt licorice

5. What is your favorite store?

any of them that sell yarn

6. If you could have any occupation besides the one you have now, what would it be?

Musician

7. What is your favorite book?

Anything by Henry James

8. Cats or dogs?

Dogs 100%

9. What action or moment in your life are you most proud of?

“Most” proud is hard but I’m pretty proud of the first sweater I made for my mom and learning two of the three Japanese alphabets.

10. Who is the main person you lean on in life?

It’s a tie between the Hubbs and my BFF.

11. What is your favorite article of clothing?

A really cool coat the Hubbs gave me for Christmas last year.

Questions For My Nominees

1) What inspired you to start your blog?

2) What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

3) Who do you most aspire to be like?

4) What is your favorite city?

5) You prefer to spend your vacation time mostly on beaches or in museums?

6) What is your favorite dessert?

7) What’s your astrological sign?

8) What possession do you most prize?

9) How old is your oldest living relative?

10) If you had the time and resources to develop any new skill, what would it be?

11) How often do you check your e-mail?

Blogs I Nominate

Hknits

A Tangled Yarn

reWolluzza

The Knit Enabler

Chameleon in Boots

This Rosy Life

That Hooking Blog

From the Purl Side

AndreSue Knits

aHandKnitLife

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Wrap and Turn

I’m currently working on a new cardigan, “Constant Carving” by Annamaria Otvos. I love this cardigan. It’s a top-down, set in sleeve cardigan with short-row shoulders and picked up collar and button bands, which means there is some wrapping and turning involved.

The traditional “wrap and turn” short row is the one I come across most often  and, consequently, the one I’m most familiar with. I’m not entirely happy with how my wraps look on this though:

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I’m not sure why they are showing so much since I know I picked up the wraps and knit/purled them with their respective stitches but they are visible. After I did these I remembered another method for doing the “wrap and turn”. This is known as the “Japanese” method and I first came across it in Anne Hanssen‘s “Grey Impression” pattern. With this method you use a bit of scrap yarn (or stitch marker/safety-pin) to mark your wrap and then pull it up over the needle on the next round like this:

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The result is a much nicer looking, almost invisible, short row and I wish I’d remembered it before I started this sweater. As it is, I’ve ripped this poor thing out three or four times already and I’m not up for doing it again.

For a full tutorial on doing this type of short row check out Carol Feller’s free craftsy class on short rows. She goes over the traditional wrap and turn method first then this “Japanese” method plus some different wrap and turn methods for shoulders and bust darts. The whole thing runs about 45 minutes and, did I say this already? It’s FREE!

The other thing I’ve learned with this pattern has to do with the shoulder seams. Usually, in a top-down sweater like this, I would have used a provisional cast on allowing for “live” stitches to knit on both the fronts and the back. However, this pattern calls for a regular cast on and then “pick up and knit” for the fronts. I wasn’t too sure about this when I started but decided to give it a try. I have to say I like this method because it gives a really nice stable shoulder seam. I know this won’t get pulled out of shape in the finished sweater like the provisional cast on has a tendency to do. The difficulty, of course, is that you have to be really meticulous with your picked up stitches so that the “seam” doesn’t look wonky. To make clean and even pick-ups I use a crochet hook in a slightly smaller gauge than my knitting needles to pull up loops and then transfer them to my knitting needle. I’m really happy with the way they look.

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But those short row wraps are screaming at me!!!

Yarn Saver

A while back I posted about wanting to knit “Rinia”, a sweater with contiguous sleeves but I got side tracked. The yarn I originally chose for this project just wasn’t working for me and this pattern, with multiple cables, proved to be more than I could keep track of while learning a new technique.  I haven’t given up on the contiguous sleeve though and Astrid Schramm, the woman who designed Rinia has a much more simple pattern that might be more appropriate for my first try at this new method but…..of course there is always a “but”.

This sweater requires fingering weight yarn, in fact, it seems all of the contiguous-sleeved sweaters I want to knit require fingering weight yarn, and I have some in my stash (of course I do). I have some beautiful Madeline Tosh merino light in “Steam Age” which is, possibly, the most awesome color-way of all time. And that’s the problem.

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I think I like this yarn too much to use it. Is that possible? It’s happened before. I had yarn I thought was so lovely I couldn’t bear to make it into something, paralyzed by the idea I would finish the project and then find something that would have been better.

The fact is, that original “to lovely to use” yarn has now been in my stash for five years. I’m “saving” that yarn for something special, is what I tell myself, but will there ever be a project that is “special” enough for yarn too precious to knit?

Years ago, when I was rooming with my BFF, we were doing a bit of spring cleaning when we found a chocolate bunny in her dresser. No. We found what was left of a chocolate bunny. The previous year she had shoved it in there to “save” it for another time and then forgot about it. Sometime during the next twelve months a small village of bugs found the chocolate bunny and ate the whole thing leaving behind a hallow foil shell and a mass of dried bug carcasses. They might have died of chocolate overdose, who knows? The point is she didn’t actually “save” that chocolate bunny at all, in fact, she wasted it.

That’s how I see this yarn. I must make it into something before it turns into a bug infested chocolate bunny. At least, with yarn, I can always rip it out and start over. Not so with the chocolate bunnies.

 

Friday’s are for Finishing

It’s Friday and for the first time in ages I have finished objects. That’s right, I finally put down my WIPs, picked up a tapestry needle and did some finishing. My “Sylvane” cardigan is currently drying out (I wet blocked it this morning) so I still don’t have any pictures of that but I do have:

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 Pink Peony Beret

I purchased this pattern ages ago (two years?) and I got the yarn (“Saucon” by Kreamer) shortly thereafter but I just never got around to making this one. The pattern (by Irina Dmitrieva) comes as a group of three.  The lace pattern was really fun and I love the hat. It’s maybe a little more slouchy than I would normally wear and, to be honest, I love the color but it’s not great on me. I need to make another one.

I’m still working on my crocheted bag obsession:

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This one is by Bobwilson123 (I blogged about her last week) and it was really fun to make. The original is all one color but I switched it up a bit by making the base square out of red, then changed to alternating black and off-white (two rows each) then I ended it with two more rounds of the red and red handles. I love this bag. Unfortunately I’m giving it away. My BFF was enamored of my last crochet string bag so I told her she could have the next one. How did I know it would be so cute?  

I used Tahki Cotton Classic for this and it was perfect. I love that it’s mercerized so it has a little sheen to it. It’s really my “go to” cotton yarn.

But that’s not all….I also used up some Noro “Taiyo” yarn I had lying about to make:Image

this cool granny scarf. I haven’t blocked it yet so It will probably be a little more “open” after that but I had to take pics ASAP because it’s been raining non-stop for three days and I didn’t know when I’d get another glimpse of the sun!

This is really just a half-granny-square. I’m not all that familiar with granny-squares so I used this pattern as a guide. I used three double crochets instead of four and I did a double crochet border around the whole thing.

This yarn is beautiful but it’s a pain in the ass to work with because of the high twist it rolls up on itself all the time. It’s well worth the effort in the end.

 

As I said, it’s been raining for three days straight which means, not only am I limited on photo opps but…..Image

I think Susie is a little depressed.

Ten Reasons for Knitters to be Happy

I woke up cranky this morning. I’m not sure why, maybe because we paid our taxes over the weekend, or maybe because the Hubbs got called out of town unexpectedly, throwing a monkey wrench into my Sunday plans. Usually I’m not that perturbed by his absence, he travels a lot for work so I’m used to it.  With unhindered access to the remote I can catch up on lots of PBS and BBC documentaries while  knitting to my heart’s content and not cooking. Which is exactly what I did.

I find, if I play documentaries while I knit A) I’m not so engrossed that nothing gets done and B) I might remember something interesting I should have learned in High School but was too busy curling my hair to pay attention to.

“Viking Apocalypse”? Pretty interesting and I got a sleeve finished. “American Experience: The Greely Expedition”? Fascinating. It was also disturbing, depressing as all get-out and interrupted my knitting. The fact that I’m still thinking about it has probably contributed to my foul Monday morning mood.

In any case I decided to think of some reasons I have to be happy rather than cranky and, as a knitter, it turns out, that’s not so difficult. I’ll share my list here with you so next time you wake up cranky you can read it through and maybe it’ll help. I know “The Louisiana Purchase” won’t although it did lead to the finishing of my “Sylvane” cardigan and some shady business between the French and Spanish.

I'll post better pics after blocking and weaving in ends.

I’ll post better pics after blocking and weaving in ends.

Top Ten Reasons Knitters Have To Be Happy:

  1. RHSS: because it all starts somewhere
  2. Elizabeth Zimmerman: because we all need a mentor
  3. Addi-turbos: because they really are faster
  4. “Kid-silk Haze”: just because
  5. Ravelry: because, as addictions go, it’s pretty harmless and has no calories
  6. The internet: because now everyone has access to nice yarn
  7. Your LYS: because it’s healthier than your local pub but serves the same purpose
  8. A stash: because inspiration can strike at 2 A.M.
  9. Crochet hooks: because sometimes you want to try something different
  10. Other knitters: because sharing is fun

knotty knitting

Back when I was still living in Chicago and working full-time, I would spend most of my lunch hours in the lobby of the 900 North Michigan building, eating a packed lunch and knitting. As I sat there one day, a woman approached me and asked if I was good at untangling jewelry. I looked at her with a blank stare, needles poised, yarn dangling, no idea what she was asking me.

She had a tangled necklace and thought, since I knit, I would be good at untangling things. Well, I hadn’t really thought about it. My idea of jewelry is my wedding ring and maybe some earrings, not much to tangle. But, as it turns out, I’m quite good at untangling jewelry, and rope and all kinds of other “knotty” things. I’m guessing anyone that’s ever spent an unreasonable amount of money on a single skein of yarn is good at untangling knots. We’d much rather spend hours untangling than cut out even a single inch of our precious yarn.

The key to untangling these things is simple. Knots of this kind are usually not “knots” at all. They are usually yarn (or chain) twisted back on itself and then unceremoniously pulled and tugged until they lock up on us. The key to untangling is to gently pull the pieces away from each other until they almost magically fall apart. At first it looks as though you’ve just made a tangle into a giant, swiss-cheese-looking, wad of yarn but if you keep pulling, gently, you will find things start to break free. You never have to “untie” anything.

It occurs to me now that, this is the patience one needs to knit. It’s not the patience to “do” it but the patience to “undo” it. Sometimes you have to undo knots and sometimes you have to undo the knitting and sometimes you have to undo some learning or some behavior but, in any case, undoing things takes infinitely more patience than doing them in the first place. The kind of patience that allows us to step back and look at a situation (yarn related or otherwise)  from a distance and then gently disengage the layers, one by one,  until whatever is holding the core of the issue together simply falls apart.

Stripes

It’s the first day of April and, although I’m not a sailor, I am waxing poetic about all things nautical.

Chiaki Hayashi’s “March Nautical Hat”

Josee Paquin’s “Robin”

“Vienna” by ViennaJoyRunner

Alexandra Tinsley’s  “Northern Line”
Anne B Hanssen’s “Cardamom”
La Maison Rililie’s “Bisontine Mittens”
The knit Cafe Toronto’s “French Nautical Scarf”

Looks like I’m not the only one around here who’s glad spring has finally arrived.

Brodie

Brodie, our St. Bernard, has taken to sun bathing.