2019 W 12 – Struggle and Joy

FOs

First the joy –

My very first gnome

This little gnome has given me so much joy; in the making and just having her hang around in my kitchen. It was an MKAL and it was just what I needed knitting wise – an interesting group project but nothing overwhelming in terms of skills or size. I used polyfill and some decorative pebbles to add weight for the stuffing. I have a bag of decorative pebbles languishing in my garage, the perfect excuse to make more of these! There are three other gnome patterns by the same designer, Imagined Landscapes, and I’ll probably end up making all of them.

I used 2 unnamed mini skeins from Countess Ablaze’s Yarn Cartel club for the hat and the body. The beard is leftover Shire in Madelinetosh Sock, the nose and hands are Castiel in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight.

I finished all the knitting and seaming on my Rose Cardigan in the beginning of March. The collar band took me forever, or about 3 months. It was the hardest part of this project for me. It was a simple cable, but it did include purling through the back-loop, something that I found frustrating because the stitch that needed to be purled through the back-loop looked exactly like a regular purl bump to me. The knit stitch that needed to be knit through the back loop was very obvious to my eyes.

When I knit, I like to know / memorise the pattern so that I can just knit and not refer to the pattern or my notes. Usually when I memorise the pattern, I can look at my knitting and know what comes next, without having to recite K2, P2, K3, P2 etc… in my head as I go. When I have to keep track of what I’m doing by reciting the pattern in my head and not able to look at my knitting to see what comes next I get super frustrated. The collar on the Rose Cardigan was the latter situtation because of the purls through the back-loop. But I loved the look of the twisted stitches so I persevered. I actually started seaming the collar on as I went to help motivate me.

When I was finally done with the collar, I was so excited to have this project finished!! I laid it out to take a look at its completeness and immediately noticed that one front was longer than the other. By 3+ inches. Seriously. I knew right away that it was a gauge and seaming issue that I could probably fix by un-seaming the collar and re-seaming it. (The rate that you mattress stitch into either of the two edges that you are seaming changes the length / outcome). The gauge issue is that I spent a lot of my knitting time in 2018 searching for my favourite needles. Which means that each quadrant of this cardigan was knit on different needles. Signature, Chiao Goo interchangeable, Lykke fixed, and finally Tulip interchangeable. So I seamed four not quite identically sized pieces into a cardigan. Stupid I know. It’s the ‘it’ll just seam out’ solution to gauge issues, I guess. I wore the cardigan around the house for a few days to see if I preferred the longer side or the shorter side and I definitely prefer the bouncier / bubble feeling of shorter fronts. I’ve set it aside for a little bit and I’ll probably be up to re-seaming the collar later this month.

I have been anticipating finishing this cardigan so much that this set back really effected my knitting mojo. It also made me analyse what I’m knitting; is the making giving me joy? Will I honestly adore the finished object? I really want to finish this cardigan properly, so you’ll probably see it here again once I’m happy with the collar.

WIPs

I have tried to organise and re-focus my WIPs into something manageable; I love casting things on, then I get overwhelmed with all the knitting. Right now, I have one shawl project, one garment, one baby blanket and a pair of fingerless mittens. I mentioned the shawl project, Xanthe, in my last post, but soon after writing I frogged it and re-knit in an entirely different colour scheme.

⬆️ Xanthe before – ⬇️ Xanthe after

I got the pinkish yarn, Prohibition in Tia Merino, in the same Yarn Cartel shipment as the mini skeins I used for my gnome. I set the skein down next to the Xanthe in progress in the first colour scheme, and it was just playing so well with the white speckled colourway (Teacup in Skinny Singles by Hedgehog Fibres), that I had to restart the whole project. No regrets.

My V-Neck Boxy – Vishnu in Madelinetosh Sock

I finally cast on for my V-Neck Boxy a couple of Sundays ago. I got through all the back shaping in one day, just a little bit of stockinette left before I can start the right and left fronts. I only had the chance to work on it that one day, all in all pretty good progress for me.

Vertices Unite Baby Blanket

The funnest thing on my needles right now is the Vertices Unite Baby Blanket; Stephen West reworked his classic Vertices Unite for a baby blanket worked in DK weight. I purposely photographed it in black and white because it’s a gift for someone who’s expecting, and I don’t want to completely let the cat out of the bag.

Balamara Mitts

And finally, a small project that I love and should have finished already, Balamara Mitts.

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FO: Snape Mitts

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Snape Mitts
Pattern: A mash up of Frankenfingers and Estonian Double Mitts
Yarn: Knitting Goddess 4ply British Wool and Nylon, Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4ply
Needles: 2.5 mm
Yardage: 36 g / 157 yards Knitting Goddess 6 / 30 yards Rowan Yorkshire Tweed

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This is my very first skein of Knitting Goddess. It arrived in early January, and I was enthralled by it from the moment it arrived. It was shiny and silky but, not at all like silk, if that makes any sense. It feels very strong and robust and there is a definite sheep-y smell. So I jumped at the first opportunity to knit something with this yarn. This is also the first time I’ve used self-striping yarn. I always assumed that I would be driven nuts by the colour change not happening exactly at the end of a row; that it would be to obvious or stilted. I was wrong. Self-striping is so much fun. And these mitts were 52 stitches wide, not the the standard 64 stitches sock width. And the self-striping still works!! Magic.

Speaking of magic, I wanted to make a pair of mitts in remembrance of Snape / Alan Rickman. This colourway was perfectly Slytherin so off I went. I started with the picot cuff, knit up to the end, then I felt that it needed a little extra detail, so I picked up stitches on the inside of the palm, about 3 or 4 cm down from the bind off, using some extra Rowan yarn I had. I then did a tubular bind off to preserve the ribbing on both sides.

I have been wearing them a lot. I was a little worried that my skin (which is disagreeable) might not like such a sheep-y wool. Wrong again! The wool is very nicely co-existing with my eczema prone skin. Can’t wait to knit up more stuff with this yarn. So glad I signed up for a year-long club. It is a wonderful thing to know I will be getting more and more of this yarn.

WIPs 2 March 2016

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Why yes, green is one of my favourite colours. I’ve only been working on a couple of projects recently, not for lack of knitting but one them is a demanding knit. I’ll let you guess which one.

Snape Fingerless Mitts – These are coming along nicely. I really love the yarn, Knitting Goddess 4 ply British Wool and Nylon. It is soft and supple, yet strong. I can’t wait to see how it wears. I’m not following a particular pattern for these; I’m consulting one for the gusset and another for the picot edging. I think I will also do a little fringe with some leftover Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift in Mooskit.

In Dreams Shawl – I’m happy to finally pick this up. I haven’t worked on it at all since autumn 2014. It’s slow going, which I find very frustrating. But the elation when I finally finish a chart is what is going to keep me on track. I have set a goal with myself to finish this by the end of the month. I have 3.5 charts to go, but one of the charts is so big it’s split into two pages. I’m more than a little worried about getting it done on time, but I will try my best. It really is lovely, just very hard to photograph on the needles have it not look like a lumpy mess.

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FOs 2016-01-26

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FO Report: Insulate! Hat

Pattern: Insulate! Hat by Amy van de Laar (Baroque Purls)
Yarn: madeleinetosh tosh dk 56 yards Spectrum (blue) and 84 yards Maple Leaf (yellow)
Needles: 4 mm
Yardage: 68.5 g / 140 yards

I knit this for my Whovian 10 year old son, who loves it. It was really tight around his head before blocking, but thankfully, blocking did the trick. The yarn is just lovely, silky 100% merino with just a perfect barely there amount of drape.

I knit the medium size, and I followed the pattern, though I did use the It’s not About the Hat pattern‘s colour-work technique. The standard Fair Isle technique of carrying yarn behind the work has never worked out for me, my tension is too uneven, and not even blocking can save the FO. I really love this new-to-me colour-work technique; it’s actually very simple, though there are very detailed instructions in the It’s not About the Hat pattern. I may even use it to substitute intarsia one day.

Next time I knit this hat, I would do about twice as many rounds of ribbing at the beginning, as there is barely enough ear coverage for truly cold days (say, -25C and below).

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FO Report: Insulate! Mittens

Pattern: Insulate! Mittens by Amy van de Laar (Baroque Purls)
Yarn: madeleinetosh tosh dk 97 yards Spectrum (blue) and 49 yards Maple Leaf (yellow)
Needles: 3.75 mm & 4 mm
Yardage: 70 g / 146 yards

I made these to match the Dalek hat above (actually, I made the mittens first then the hat). I inverted the colours to make sure that I would have enough to make the entire hat/mittens set.

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As you can see in the photo, these mittens are getting a lot of use, especially being snow-covered, jammed into coat pockets while soaking wet, a lot of friction while damp, etc.. etc… And they are holding up really well. I am very impressed. Tosh DK is not the princess-y kind of expensive yarn I was worried it might be. They also dry very fast; my son hasn’t had to deal with trying to keep warm by pulling on wet, soggy, somehow-even-colder-than-outside slush blocks (aka ‘mittens’).

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Insulate! Mittens

I didn’t quite follow the pattern. I changed the patterning on the palm – the yellow just completely overpowered the blue, it was very unbalanced (with my colour selections). So I just did the simplest pattern I could think of – y,b to end, next round b,y to end, repeat these 2 rounds. The thumbs are knit in the background colour, then the contrast colour is duplicate stitched in. I didn’t quite finish the duplicate stitch chart; I did just enough so that pattern flowed from the hand. Duplicate stitch is just not my thing, but it’s a good idea for the thumbs, obviously.

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All in all, I loved knitting the hat and mittens, and I am so happy my son loves them too!

WIPs 2016-01-21

I finished a WIP from last week, the Insulate! mittens, so as one does, I immediately cast on for two more projects. The Insulate! hat is actually done, I finished it last night. The photo was taken yesterday afternoon; immediately after taking its picture, I decided that I had to work on this hat. I pushed everything else aside, including this post, which should have been written and posted yesterday. It’s super cute, though a little small (did I check gauge? no, of course not) but I haven’t blocked it yet, so fingers crossed it will get larger.

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Insulate! hat

I cast on a Hitchhiker as well, I’m using Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock, which is 80% BFL wool and 20% nylon. I love the yarn, and the colours are amazing. I find knitted speckled yarn gives a lovely gentle overall effect, but can still use many wild colours, while variegated can be hit or miss when it knits up. This shawl’s construction is fun to knit, since it goes so fast at the beginning.

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Hitchhiker Shawl

I am so close to being done with Chart Three on my Evenstar. Only 1.5 rows of patterning, and 5 rows of plain knitting, left. I can’t wait to start the bind off/Chart Four. I haven’t worked on any of my other WIPs this week, though the socks are bugging me. My daughter hates the toe seams in commercial socks; the guilt of not being a consistent sock knitter (e.g. my Monkey Socks took me just over three years to complete) is really getting to me.

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Evenstar Shawl

And yes, I did put an overturned box on my back porch to use a table / snow protector to take these photos. On a sunny day, the snow outside (it is everywhere) works almost like a light-box. The colours are accurate for once. Oh! and that overturned box was used to ship an Ashford bottom whorl spindle to me. I plan to learn how to spin, but for now I just want to get my feet wet;  I want to master the spindle and enjoy it before jumping into the spinning pool.

WIPs 2016-01-13

I recently cast on these mittens, they are a blast to knit. I’m trying traditional colourwork for the right hand (which is finished), and a new colourwork technique for the left (in progress). So far loving the new technique, but I have to wait for the left mitten to be done before I know the final result. Yes, I am knitting mittens with Daleks on them. Pattern here. This also my first time knitting with tosh dk, so love it, but I have to wait and see how it wears in real life. The blue is spectrum and the yellow is maple leaf.

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Insulate! Mittens

I’ve also made a little progress on this old friend from 2014, my Evenstar. I should finish the 3rd chart very soon. I will be using beads for the 4th and final chart. This shawl and In Dreams are part of my detention o.w.l. for hpkchc, so hopefully they will both be done by April.

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Evenstar

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In Dreams

These are the WIPs that I’m not consistently working on, though I should be:

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Bat’leth Scarf

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Daphne Socks

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Amagi Jumper

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Luke

Seriously, there is no reason (other than time) that I’m not working on them / that they aren’t finished already.

Toe-Up Sock Mittens

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Project: Toe-Up Sock Hobbit Mittens

Pattern: My own, with gusset help from Frankenfingers and English Fern Lace

Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight Hobbit Garden

I felt like making mittens, but I wondered why are patterns always written from wrist to fingertip? What if you knit from fingertips to wrist, and if so, how would you do that? So I used a magic toe-up sock cast on, two at a time on 2.5 mm needles, increased 4 sts per mitten every row just like I would for a toe. When I got to 64 sts per mitten, I continued knitting straight until I got to the thumb. For each mitten, I cast off 4 sts on the palm, 2 on the back of the hand. On the next round when I got to the thumb (where I just cast off 6 sts) I cast on 20 sts. As I continued, I decreased at the thumb, sort of a reverse thumb gusset. I used Frankenfingers as a gusset guide.

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I kept decreasing every few rounds until each mitten was 60 sts. I got kinda bored at the end, I added some lace as a border. I still don’t like lace in variegated yarn, I can barely see the pattern, but then again I only did one repeat. Then I picked up stitches for the thumb, decreasing drastically when I was almost at my thumb tip.

I’ve been wearing them regularly the past couple of weeks, and I like them but next time I’d knit them smaller, both in length (of the hand, from finger tips to thumb) and circumference (again, my hand from the fingertips to the thumb), and in a thicker wool. We’ve had a very harsh, bitterly cold winter this year and my hands get cold easily, the lightweight just doesn’t stand up to -20 C. But I love the colours so much, the way they play off each other, it’s delicious. And the pooling matches. Love it.

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WIPs Update

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So, I haven’t been making much progress on my knitting. Three out of four are nearly done. The pink yoke cardie just needs buttons and finishing. I can’t bring myself to finish them, I don’t think that they’ll turn out how I wanted. This is new for me, usually I’m super excited about a project until the first time I try it on after all the finishing is done and I start to see a million imperfections. Hopefully, I’ll have a bunch of FOs in the next few months. I like the purple mittens I recently cast-on, but the cable is a 24 row repeat so it is definitely not toddler friendly. They’ll be ready for next winter, at any rate. I’m using a cable chart from my Elsebeth Lavold viking knitting book and I’ll use the Glitten pattern for the thumb construction, without the cable chart. I just want one cable panel per mitten. The yarn is Dream in Colour Everlasting Sock, it’s really beautiful, and thankfully not nearly as splitty as I thought it would be when I first saw it up close. Happy new year and may all our knitting resolutions come to pass. 😇

I’ve been busy outdoors a lot lately. 

Mt-Royal Nov 2012
Mt-Royal Nov 2012

Mt-Royal Nov 2012
Mt-Royal Nov 2012

As usual, I haven’t had the time to knit as much as I’d like, though Sanagi’s neverending stockinette is a pretty good fit with my schedule right now. I ran out of Sea Silk in the rainforest colourway (that I purchased in 2006 or 7), ordered a new skein, expecting dyelot issues. Handmaiden seems to have completely revamped rainforest, there is a lot more brown and beige in it now. I had some pink Sea Silk left over from my Haruni, and since I’m making Sanagi with 2 strands held together, I simply used one strand of pink with one strand of old rainforest for a couple of inches, let it become entirely pink for a bit then worked pink and new rainforest together until the pink ran out. I’m on the shoulder straps now, I might even finish before the new year.

Miles of stockinette
Miles of stockinette

I’ve finished my Cetaceans cardigan, (formerly unicorns, I couldn’t get it to fit nicely with the decreases, etc) I just have to sew on the buttons, weave in the ends and take pictures. I began some mitts for myself, with a thumb gusset.  I’m kinda making them up as I go, since the only tricky part is the gusset, and it’s not terribly complicated. Or so I think. I haven’t even searched for gusset on YouTube so I could be terribly wrong.