Category Archives: knitting

Starting fresh (small and easy edition)

I love my most recently finished neck thing – one of those things that feel like I’ve already had and loved for longer than I have – and it’s even gotten some legitimate wear with the sudden onset of autumn-like temps around here. Both this and the last started as easy, go everywhere projects, but as they grew, I had to toss a not-very-exciting washcloth knit in my bag for easier transport. So instead of working on a few larger long-suffering works-in-progress, I’ve spent the last week or so casting on a new portable project that should stay small and portable to the end.

Socks have always filled this need for me, and that’s what I started with, but they weren’t quite scratching the itch. The yarn and my vanilla pattern are both tried and true, but I liked the colorway of this yarn better when I saw it online – I love the mustardy bit, but not the red and blue that should have been a little more burgundy and aqua – and what I thought was more charcoal, is brown – so they’re yet another pair that look fine with my casual earthy-toned clothes but don’t really work for my work clothes (that are still relatively casual but made up of more blacks, greys, and greens).

So I don’t hate them, I’m just less than enthused, and my preferred sock knitting method can get a little bulky and very pokey once I’m on to both cuffs at the same time, so it isn’t an ideal portable project – better for knitting somewhere once I’m there, rather than during the getting there part.

Next up was frogging a Hap for Harriet I’d started 3? years ago. I still like the pattern, I just didn’t like the fact that I’d have to pay attention to yardage or weight around the halfway point – I prefer to do that when I have more than one ball/skein of yarn – so there’s a good chance I’ll make it, but not with this yarn.

I actually have a small need for warmer weather neck things – times like now when it feels a little off to wear something less than lightweight and drapey, but more coziness is needed than a woven cotton thing can provide. So I started a 2-row rectangular mesh scarf (I’ve more to say about rectangular scarves, but perhaps not now) and it’s already driving me a bit mad, but it’s exactly the kind of thing I need. – BUT – I’m again fearful of the yardage and thinking I should re-start it with 9 or so fewer stitches, but it’s a little fiddly and slippery and I hate the first few rows of anything and this meager inch is already about 3 knitting sessions…

So to take the stress down yet another notch, I cast on a cashmere tube.

It had been a tank top.

Then it wasn’t.

From cashmere tank top to creamsicle balls #yarn #recycledyarn #thriftstoresweateryarn

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And yes, once again I’m a tiny bit ambivalent about it. It is utterly unfussy, unpokey, and easy (knit a tube until it’s a good loop/cowl length, unpick the provisional cast-on and graft together, done) but decisions need to be made about stripe sequence or not, other colors or not, and inside-out or right-side out or not. I’m thinking I’ll just do a one-row stripe, but then would it look too machine-made? Like something from the bulls-eye store? And varying stripes would look sporty in a way that I am not? Do I even care since it will be a soft cozy thing?

Maybe I need to keep casting-on…

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Path of totality

I can’t stop repeating that in my head – it sounds like a threat, an end game, a complete takeover – but also a great summation and completion of fragmented parts – it is frightening and reassuring. And I know it’s just the term for the visible swath of an eclipse. But it’s a shitstorm out there and it has been for some time, and we keep breeding and uneducating shitcloud seeders, and there will always be a changeable swath of stupidity and a great joining together to make that path more narrow or wide.

I started this knit this time a year ago – we were on a vacation made stressful by either my still jobless status or anxiety over starting a new one, recently taking on a reactive dog, my foot-dragging acceptance of a body that now hurts more often than not, and the election that seemed far off and the candidate who got inaugurated seemed enough of a joke that even the most dense should get, but I still felt uneasy and dubious it would work out in the end. I grew up in a town with a population of more ignorant folks than not. Folks who hid behind religion and “tradition” and practiced tokenism to prove that they weren’t “bad” people, but folks who also tolerated klansmen as neighbors. None of my family lives in that town anymore and few live in the state – we did what we could when we were there, but the path of totality of intolerance was too scorched and wide.

I’m erroneously remembering that this pattern, Isabell Kramer’s Paris Toujours, was designed in response, or as a memorial to (one of) the Paris attacks. But it looks like it was commemorating a happy weekend (maybe there was a knit-along with this after the attack instead?) Either way, I knit it because it was easy and side to side – just the way I like to make and wear scarf/shawls – I’d clearly confused the designer’s intent and blurred yet another violent act of many so I can’t say I knit this as a statement against ignorance. But this kind of knitting feels like my own little path of totality to keep my fingers calmly and constructively moving through another year of shit, coming out at the other end with something soft and warm – and I won’t say safe, since there are no “safe places,” and let’s face it, a scarf could be quite deadly as a garrote, or a gag, or bindings in the middle of nowhere without access to food and drink (though it would make it at least a cozy slow death).

I was a little surprised that I finished it by my secret deadline, and by the end of the summer. I’d started it in the mountains and planned to work on it in another set of mountains later this year, but I’ll likely be wearing it there instead – it’s already my new favorite even in the muggy dog days.

The yarn was from a thrifted JCrew cardigan, slightly felted, in a wool, cashmere, viscose, and rabbit (I’m assuming angora) blend – and it is mad soft and not at all sneezy, with great drape and enough definition.

I would have liked it to be a bit larger – I was hoping that the last band of garter would be twice as wide as the one before it, and I lost yarn chicken twice at the end and had to unknit a couple of times, but it is large enough.

A couple of heads up about the pattern that are obvious for those in the know, but need to be stated for those who aren’t (me), especially if you deviate from the stripe sequence like I did. The stitch counts will be off unless each section is done in even numbers of the pattern repeat, so after the set up, if you want to keep doing lace, then start with row 3 of the lace pattern. I was often off with this, randomly ending up with 2 (as per pattern) or 3 stitches at the end. It didn’t really matter to me since fudge is good to do and to eat, but I kinda preferred ending in 3 stitches – if I did it again, I’d keep up with the 3 (or more) stitches at the end of the lace since a tiny bit more of garter makes the edge a little more stable. And then I can’t really describe this but the first row of garter after the lace makes a row of stockinette, so the lace sections aren’t symmetrical – again, it didn’t bother me enough to figure out how to fix it (a row of purl somehow?) but I think it could make some itchy.

This (or rather another loose variation thereof) will likely be on my needles again. And I’ve got my eye out for another one of these sweaters – wondering if it came in other colors – not that I don’t love this olive though, it’s among of my favorites. And this finishing up older projects thing has been working for me these days although everything that is left is vastly more complicated – but my path of unfinished totality is pleasantly closing in…

 

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Mid August

And so it goes – much the same as it has been…

Beans must be picked every other day.

And then suddenly there are 50 pounds of tomatoes…. #tomatoes #heirloomtomatoes #organictomatoes #gardening

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And tomatoes are expressing their juicy demands.

The rogues gallery. #notsojerseyfresh #organicgardening #organictomatoes #tomatodiseases #notsotasty

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And I need to learn about more diseases and pests to ward off next year.

Some thrifting is still being done here and there – picked up some “vintage” yarn for more and bigger scrappy things – I’ll probably dye the one on the right since the white is actually wool, or mostly, and it’s interesting that this seemingly semi-shitty novelty yarn was once spun in Belgium and France…

And some finishing is happening – this spin will be mittens or slippers, but will go on the back burner for a bit.

(Next up for spinning is still TBD – either a shit-or-get-off-the-pot spin with raw alpaca I’ve had far too long, or a quick palate cleanser with a colorful superwash braid… either way, the wheel is freshly cleaned and oiled and swept up underneath and is ready to go.)

And of course, beach time – just a bit here and there though – and I’m finishing up this knit – hopefully by the month’s end (secretly by the end of next week).

Some upcoming travel means socks need to be on the needles, but I’ve really run out of room in my sock drawer… In theory I “need” a few more pairs that better match my work clothes, but I have none worn out enough to purge to make room, so…

I’m going to knit them anyway and have more disorder and chaos and cramming going on in my life again!

 

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Early August

This summer has been full of long days that go by quickly.

I’ve got a bit of return teen angst/summertime ennui that is somewhat satiated by lying in the direct sun in a sweaty stupor. I must need the vitamin D; I’m surprised I’m not more tan; I’m blaming reverse puberty for just about everything.

Nice tail. #bugsofinstagram #ithinkitsacranefly #insectsofinstagram #insect #bug #thingswithwings

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The garden is doing that- just when everything looks absolutely awesome, it shits the bed thing – squash vine borer hit hard, and despite a few surgical attempts (only 2 out of 5 lived through it) we’re down to only 2 stressed out zucchini plants – I think we’ve eaten only 4 zucchini all summer. And the tomatoes, those lycopenian bastards – all was so very well with them until we got rain and hot temps and more rain and now they’re stressed out with leaf spot or a form of blight, or something that happens every year that hits hard and fast, only this year the big harvests didn’t start before it… But they’re coming in – some better than others, and some delicious.

First garden tomato down the hatch! #gardening #organicgardening #tomatoes #nicoisesalad #saladeniçoise

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Much of this year’s grown and foraged fruit went into ice pops and frozen yogurt. Note to self: make ice pops with nut milk again – wineberry and chocolate almond milk was good as was gooseberry vanilla.

Frutti di bosco e backyard froyo. #fruttidibosco #homemadefrozenyogurt #froyo #wineberries #blueberries #fiestaware

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I’m working/knitting on finishing up one shawl/scarf exclusively at the moment – I might be on the last ball of yarn, or there might be one more and I can’t find it which might be a slight problem, but I love this one – a super soft thrift store sweater yarn – I’m tempted to troll the online auctions to find another one of these sweaters for more/another project, but I’ve got other lovelies waiting in the wings.

Rocco now has his own Instagram account – N finally realizes the joy of looking at dog pictures and he can share their dawn adventures while I’m still sleeping or getting ready for work – he’ll still make appearances on my account, but I’ve got loads more pictures of him than anything else… And he’s totally potty-trained (Rocco, not N, well N is too, but has been for some time) inside the garden now, and stays out of the beds for the most part – he’s been a pleasant companion in there lately which is a relief and a pleasure for both of us (we still have a long ways to go outside though).

And I’m nearly finished with a spin – just trying to decide on a 2 or 3 ply… might just say 3 and do it now…

 

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Flaming balls of molten lava, ketchup, mustard, blood, candy corn, nasturtiums, atomic fire filled traffic cone roadkill smeared on asphalt in Mordor at sunset superhero sontag

I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with my latest (or any) handknit until it has proven itself wearable with a normal wrapping and unwrapping, pulling tighter or looser, not dipping itself into toilet waters, not catching in turnstiles, and fitting in or out of a coat test drive, but the current heatwave is preventing anything beyond kicking the tires.

I’m still ambivalent and slightly indifferent about it for several reasons, but it was a wild success in others, but first, a recap –

I bought the roving last September – I was (am I still?) on a kick to buy colors outside of my comfort zone – and by that I mostly mean colors that I don’t typically wear because they make me look like shit, but I don’t care how I look to a degree, so I can like and wear whatever color I want to dammit, but I do happen to prefer earthier tones in general…

The nasturtium decided to wait for cooler days… #organicgardening #flowers #nasturtium #autumn

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And it also reminded me of nasturtiums which I love (and I ran out of room to plant this year…).

I got two braids (8oz total) from Fuzzy Frog Fibers because they are very affordable, she does fun and interesting colors, and I like the Dorset wool – springy and strong soft and 4oz doesn’t cut it for me for anything other than a hat, and yes, I can combine them with other things but I’ve already got several combo spins waiting in the wings (including another braid of the same only in my comfort colors from the year before).

I started spinning it a month or so later – I waffled a minute about how to, but I’ve been struggling with making a not-too-overspun single and figured I needed more practice. The Dorset is very forgiving on that front too – didn’t break in the skinny sections and not too sticky to pull out a bit more at the last minute on a big clump.

I also waffled a minute on leaving it as is and spinning each braid separately to have double the stripes/color changes, or combining both for one big gradient – not necessary a skill to practice, but something I hadn’t done before – so I went with that. And the spinning was done by the end of the year.

I sat on it for a bit, thinking about what to make of it – it was going to be a neck thing or a body thing or a poncho-y thing… I felt it needed to be an empowering sort of thing to power through the terrible election and dark days, and almost made this sweater with the molten yarn on the back flappy cape thing, but my gauge was off, the thick and thin yarn isn’t hard enough wearing for clothes, and I haven’t finished something that needs to fit in years, and I wanted to finish it by year’s end.

So easy garter was the answer – and a top-down triangle shawl – a shape which I’m also ambivalent about but thought it was because I hadn’t made one big enough yet. And I cast-on for basically this shawl (I used size 7 needles and about 1.000 yards instead) just before a week’s vacation when rain was predicted – and my gauge was okay and the stitches felt good.

I fell for the few yards of pinky muddled grey and made note to try to recreate this with another spin and/or I’m pretty sure I unraveled a sweater with similar colors.

It's getting warmer… or bleeding? #handspun #knitting #shawl #red #fuzzyfrogfibers #sontag

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I knit more in that week than I likely had since the start of the year, or maybe before – no gardening, home improvement, office work, or major cleaning meant my wrist wasn’t in pain and could go for an hour or more knitting sessions.

And then I finished up at home – at a slower pace – and it was a good beach knitting project too – the wool wasn’t too sticky for sweaty seawater sunblock hands.

After washing and light blocking it still smells a bit of the beach (except the rotting sea-things) and didn’t change – I rarely wash garter things right off the needles, but this is headed for plastic summer storage so I wanted it to be as clean as possible.

So in the end I was able to tick a few boxes off: I acquired, spun, knit, and completed something within a year – something I want to become habit – less so on the acquisition end, but I’m almost always able to go to the state fiber fest and want to support the local and local-ish folks, even if it’s only $30 worth of fiber spread out over 3 booths; I finally made a decent (still needs work, but I didn’t have to run it through an unspin cycle at least) single; I figured out my current knitting speed is very roughly only around 700 yards a month; and I made a top-down triangle about twice as large as my last one.

And the jury is still out on the triangle until I can wear it a bit – I’m leaning towards it’s just not my thing (side to side triangles totally are) – but I’m always futzing with the less stretchy edge – tuck in under? fold it out? let it gape? and want more tail and less triangle – maybe this needed to be even bigger, or maybe I should have increased the tails more and the triangle less – I also could have eeked out 2 more rows of yarn, but didn’t want the stress, but there’s probably enough for a picot or other edging, but I don’t really like edging, unless it’s i-cord…?

I can wear it crossed in the front and tied in the back but I feel like I’m smuggling my own boobs, so I’ll most likely do the kerchief thing, or a half drape thing pinned somehow, or the traditional shawl across the shoulders thing…

Or the roll it up and pretend it’s a scarf thing.

We’ll see a few chillier months from now, and maybe N might be game to wear it instead?

But I am definitely in love with the mostly black top portion, and would like to spin and knit a mostly black thing soon, and locate the dirty pinky-grey yarn I think I have… But I have to finish or frog other things first.

 

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Crazy 8s

My manic knitting episode didn’t last long – it was triggered by the need to pack a week’s worth of projects for a trip up to the White Mountains with a rainy forcast – but all new attempts were thwarted, so I’m back to being monogamish to what’s on the needles now.

I started the Amiga a few days before we left thinking it was possible that I could be done and wearing it by July. I used US 9 needles to get a better drape (some of the others I’ve seen on ravelry with this yarn look a bit thick or stiff) but the 9s ended up being a bit too loose.

(Bamboo needles for stitch holding purposes only – just knitting one row of this cotton blend on to them took me down for the rest of the day.)

But then I couldn’t find my 8 tips. I knew with certainty that I didn’t have a current project on 8s, and couldn’t remember the last time I’d used them, and I was pretty certain I’d never used my 8 tips at all… So that project didn’t make the cut.

So I packed a small paper pieced quilt, a thrift unraveler, and 4 knits – only 1 of which was new and not yet on the needles.

On the first rainy day, I stared a cabled reflective hat for N.

Though I remembered to pack a few sizes of needles, I forgot that the old dpn packs have only 4 needles, not 5, so I started it on 3 US 8 needles, but kept dropping stitches off the tips and it was driving me bats – I added a fourth US 7 needle to the mix but by then I’d screwed up a cable too and had had enough. I thought if I re-started it on the full set of 7 dpns top-down and knit it plain I’d whiz through it and he might be able to wear it on the trip, but it was too tight on the 7s, and again, I don’t like bamboo needles unless the yarn is super slick, and I prefer doing the main part of hats on circulars and didn’t have them packed with me (and the 8 tips were still awol anyway).

So I knit, and knit, and knit on that firey sontag.

And amazingly, my hands & wrists were okay with marathon sessions, so I condensed what was likely 2 months of my painful knitting rate into a week.

My favorite color change was this brief moment of pink-grey – reminded me of things from my past, not specific and not necessarily happy, but familiar – I’m inexplicably drawn to dirty pinkish these last few years…

I took just a few breaks – one to prep a thrift cashmere tank for unraveling, and the other to shoot and reacquaint myself with the Paulie cardigan, perhaps even knock out a few rows.

I tried it on the skunk, and only after I shot it did I realize…

skunk paulie had the 8s.

Why?

I’m knitting this sweater on 2s. I’m guessing I needed said 2s (yes, for this hat likely) and put the 8s on to save the stitches knowing I’d never used the 8s and it wasn’t likely I would.  So even if I’d planned to work on it while away, I couldn’t have.

But I had one last back-up – the Paris Toujours I started in the mountains last summer.

I love it, but I didn’t work on it, but I will – I’d like to be wearing it by early fall (or perhaps I’ll knit on it during another mountain trip then).

But there was some great weather too and I managed to get on the trails a little bit – my good knee is now my bad knee and I’m dealing with pain and the clumbsiness of favoring the other, formerly bad side now – it’s still bad, but not as bad as the newly bad – I’m just grinding down on bones now, no longer receiving the sharp bite of torn cartiledge.

We did a few short woods trails, a lovely pond, and a pretty impressive waterfall.

But taking it easy was the biggest accomplishment.

And Rocco was the most relaxed we’d ever seen him at the cabin – no road in sight, nor people, or animals – he only barked twice at some hummingbirds and a scent – either bear or turkey – not a single full tantrum/rage/freakout the whole week – until spying a bichon frise 50 yards away at a rest stop on the way home.

I got some quality time with the foliage – forget-me-nots, mosses & lichens, ferns – in the few acres around the cabin.

I like moss. #moss

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(Yeah, most of that is lichen).

And ate some of it (from a food co-op, not foraged) cooked up by N and other spring tasties too…

Going up north also means going back in time to tasty spring eats again… #fiddleheads

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As well as sweets (and of course pancakes) I usually only buy up there.

We’re home to the heat and finally productive, but needy garden (though some asshole ate half the onions and squash plants), and my wrist hurts again, so the knitting has sloooooowed down once more.

 

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Casting-on madness

Does the feeling of impending unlimited leisure time with the start of summer (that was had only as a very small child) ever go away? It’s this time of year from which I have to clean-up, catch up, and be burdened by (to a degree) unfinished projects for the rest of the year. I cast on several knitting projects with the excuse that: I’ll have vacation knitting time and don’t want to run out of projects (I never do because I’ll only have like 2, maybe 3 days of vacation where I’m not doing something else), I’ll have long evenings of natural light (I do but I can’t knit for any longer than if I didn’t), I’ll have undistracted time to knock out something more complicated (I sort of do, but never enough for anything larger than a hat), and I need a few mindless things on different needle sizes so I don’t have to pay attention to my hands (these are most of my projects these days).

Summer hasn’t meant significant leisure for nearly 4 decades now, but I still acquire a large number of paperbacks and projects – the books are usually finished by the following year, the projects usually not.

And I still haven’t finished last years vacation knitting, or in the case of a long suffering sweater, the year before that…

But I’ve also got it in mind to start spinning with more of a purpose and sooner-on-the-needles time now too. I don’t have too much handspun (that I like) waiting to be knit up so it’s not really a problem – it’s easiest to solve things that aren’t really a problem. That fiery roving I got last fall is becoming a sontag-like shawl – I’m not sure I’ll use up all of the yarn on it yet, and I’m not sure I like it yet, but I do like the black portion and have been wanting a black neck-thing for a bit, and I do have some black roving, so spinning a lumpy bumpy black yarn and knitting it up will be maddening on both counts, but on my list of fiber priorities and I know it will get a decent amount of wear.

Unlike this one? I don’t know – I was thinking it would be a good visibility piece for hunting season walks, but I don’t wear knits in the woods due to branches and brambles, so unless I stumble across some meadows or moors around here it isn’t likely I’ll use it for that purpose…

I just tossed and re-organized the stash and only found one surprise – some cotton I’d forgotten about, and I’ve now forgotten why I got it – I think it was going to be a skirt since I got it (on sale) around the time I’d made another cotton knit skirt (that I’m likely going to frog soon).

Otherwise the rest was familiar and waiting patiently – I’d even paired a few skeins with the pattern I intended to use…

I’ve been thinking/half remembering about this one for a bit – a Shapely Boyfriend out of Malabrigo and Noro – my only hesitation is that Malabrigo is absolute shit for wear and tear. I made a scarf for N out of the stuff a few years ago and it was a pilly fuzzy mess before the season was out.

But the ones I’m actually sticking in the summer knitting bag are an Amiga out of gold bamboo & cotton, and a Burton Vestigan out of green wool & mohair. The biggest gaps in my closet are spring/summer/fall things and buttoning things.

Also soon on the needles is a hat for N out of reflective yarn.

And this very rustic handspun for mittens for me, but the spinning won’t be finished for a bit.

Filthy rough kinky (wool). #spinning #wool #spinningwheel

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I’m also thinking about felted things, though I haven’t felted with our front-loader yet – some felted clogs for others and myself, and I’ve got some skeins set aside for a couple of felted bags (as well as a heap of feltable cheap/scrap yarn).

And I’m also thinking of a cabled pullover with some special wool, a few other cardigans I can’t decide on yet, possibly a blanket out of handspun llama (or alpaca?) I’ve yet to spin, a poncho – make that two – one for N and one for me (but not matching), gloves (never made those yet), more mittens, more scrappy stole/scarf things like the one earlier this year, and a coat, (and socks -I’ve taken a wee break on those at the moment, but that moment won’t last long).

(Still on the needles is a cotton blanket, a pullover that’s reeaally close to being done if I’d ever work on it, a Paulie cardigan on small needles that has zero satisfaction since I can work on it for hours with little progress to show though I’d get a lot of wear out of it assuming I don’t get bigger before I finish, a dish/wash cloth (I think the last) for waiting room knitting since I don’t have a pair of socks on the needles for the first time ever, a couple of thrift sweaters getting knitted cuffs, collars, and button bands, an old shale/feather and fan scarf that I’m 95% sure I’m going to frog, and this shawl/scarf that I love and should just keep on keeping on with it…)

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