There WILL be project bags!
A couple of weeks ago, my Beloved and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary….and to celebrate, we decided to head to New York. We managed to talk our dear friends Tommy and Austin into going with us; they have been there, literally a dozen times and we figured they’d be good tour guides.
We flew down on Porter on the Friday and came back on the Monday….and the 72 hours in between saw us pack an awful lot of activity into a very short time frame. And there was walking. So…much….walking. I joked that I really wished I had thought to bring a pedometer just to track how far we walked. I knit VERY little on my travel sock, which I specifically cast on for the occasion.
Attractions included the Empire State Building, the Museum of Modern Art (Van Gogh’s Starry Night – SQUEE!), the Staten Island Ferry/the Statue of Liberty, and of course Times Square. We ate at great restaurants, and saw two separate shows: Chicago on Broadway, and an immersive theatre event called Sleep No More, which left us all wondering how to get stage blood out of our white clothes…but I digress.
And of course, what knitter’s visit to New York is complete without a pilgrimage to Soho…the home of the famous LYS, Purl Soho? Sunday afternoon, I had half expected the place to be insane. I had read reviews that said the store was too small, and that the staff was uncaring and worse, downright rude, but I went anyway. The reviews could not have been more wrong.
The store, while not huge was a great size…and the staff was downright delightful. Several asked if I needed assistance, and when I was not sure which colours to choose, they were more than happy to help me decide.
I did get some lovely yarn: an indie dyer out of the US called Anzula, and some special Purl Soho bulky yarn that will be used to make a Bandana cowl…for me this time. Also picked up some MadTosh DK for a hat for hubby…and some merino/tencel fibre for my friend, Val (in exchange for some needles she picked up for me on a recent trip south of the border).
And I could not resist a few little notions and souvenirs.
I liked New York just fine…but I do think it falls under the heading of “Nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there!”. Paris, on the other hand, is an entirely different story altogether….
Saturday was the Downtown Knit Collective’s Annual Knitter’s Frolic…my third in a row. This year, I went to hang out with friends in line at about 8:15 and pretty much stayed to the end.
I met up with Shireen over at The Blue Brick, her partner Tito and our friend/spinning instructor Leslie and we patiently waited until the doors opened at 9 AM. I bee-lined for the indigodragonfly booth, because I had a bag of single skeins I was looking to co-ordinate, for later use as a two-colour shawl, and I wanted to nab Kim before her booth was swamped by other shoppers.
One of the skeins I was looking to match was a special, limited edition one from Fibre Fling a few summers ago, called “How Many Minions Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?” Kim placed a skein on either side; the blue, she said would be a good choice if I wanted a more muted effect and the purple would be better if I wanted something that would pop. I took one look…and I was a goner. Colour Affection, anyone?
I picked up a few more skeins from her, including one in Octobaa, a new DK weight yarn which is crying out to be yummy socks and proceeded merrily on.
I did manage to avoid buying fibre….even though TurtlePurl’s display nearly weakened my resolve some.
I met up with varying friends through the day, which was why I ended up being there pretty much until they closed the place down. Over the span of the day, I grabbed a couple of skeins of TurtlePurl yarn (she makes some nice self-striping stuff!), and some Cascades 200 Superwash for heavy socks for Chase, along with a bamboo sock-sized circular so that I can take sock knitting on the plane to New York next weekend.
Not including a destash and some KnitPicks items delivered to me from some lovely ladies up North, this was what my day looked like:
I regret nothing.
For Knit and Crochet Blog Week, Day 2….Eskimimi has given us an assignment:
Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house.
Alternatively it could be a type or colour of yarn, or a single button. Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature.
Interesting….and thought provoking. If I am truly a Bee, flitting from WIP to WIP…then how can I possibly pick just one mascot project? Isn’t that contraindicated by my very Bee nature?
I keyed the word “bee” into Ravelry, and got about 20 pages of patterns. Some had Bee in the title; some others had it in the designer or store name (you cannot imagine how many “Purl Bee” patterns there were!). And thus began my hunt.
I have to say, straightaway, yellow is perhaps the colour I like least. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I quite dislike it. So anything bee-striped was out of the question. I am actually knitting on a pair of socks now where the yarn has about six colours in it and all the black and yellow have pooled in the leg if the first sock. I have taken to calling it, with very little love, “the bumblebee sock”…but I digress.
I don’t knit toys, so knitted bees and their like were also not options. My main likes, knitting-wise, are scarf/shawls, socks and cowls, with some hats thrown in for good measure. I ran across several socks, but the stitch patterns didn’t appeal to me at the time (mind you, it was 6 AM and I was barely awake!). I did see some shawls and scarves…but really only zeroed in on two.
The first was Anne Hanson’s les Abeilles.
In spite of the fact that it’s yellow, I really did like it. I thought it was pretty, and likely “shiny” enough to cause me to drop what I am working on to cast it on. But what, I wondered, would be interesting enough to keep me from doing just that? Nothing too complex so as to frustrate me, but nothing so boring as to make me put it down and walk away from it in search of something more interesting.
And then I saw this…the second pattern that made me hit my “Favourite” button this morning:
It’s called Millrace Shawl, and the reason it cropped up in my search is because the publisher is Blue Bee Studio. The reason I chose this as my “mascot project” is simple. First off, it is my very favourite construction – sideways. Usually, this means that if one is careful, one can use up nearly all of a precious skein of yarn while not running out. (Let’s not talk about the one on my coffee table right now that I left plenty of yarn to finish and yet managed to run out anyway!)
It has a garter stitch body…which means very little to which I have to pay attention. Then the edging (which is knit as you go) adds just enough interest not to bore me to tears (not, I might add, that this occurs frequently – I have knit stockinette socks and loved every minute of them!). The perfect combination of soothing garter and an interesting edge might actually negate my Bee-like tendency to wander off to something new. And as an aside…it calls for 575 yards of fingering weight yarn…the exact length of a skein of Wollmeise Pure, of which there happens to be a couple of skeins just languishing in my stash.
Well…how about that for serendipity?
(Two posts in one day….shocking, I know!)
Last year, I offered to test knit for Kate Atherley, and thoroughly enjoyed it. So when this year, I heard she was putting out a book solely devoted to custom fitted socks, I once again raised my hand and said, “Me, please!”
As luck would have it, on the same week that Kate sent me the request of “test these in any yarn but fingering, please!”, DH decided after years of insisting that he was not interested in having hand knit socks, “You know, I’d love a pair of heavy socks to wear around the apartment”. Since he doesn’t like anything too detailed/fancy/froufrou, this was serendipity, indeed.
So I received the files and got to work. There was math. No one told me there would be math. And measuring…and swatching. All the things I don’t normally do….and yet, there they were. And they were crucial to the success of the test knit.
So after measuring our respective feet, (for
science knitting, of course!) and swatching the worsted weight Cascades 220 (and even dutifully washing and drying the swatch – I know Kate is so proud!), I did the calculations, chose my needle, checked the charts and cast on.
Now, if this sounds like a heck of a lot of work for socks….it seemed like it at the time, but in retrospect, it really wasn’t. And of course, since all the foot measuring is only done once, (after all foot size does not change from one month to the next!) it will not be at all time consuming going forward.
The best part? The results…so totally worth it. Hubby has his first pair of socks and they are an absolute perfect fit.
The success I had with these made me so happy, I emailed Kate and ask if I could test another pair, for me this time, in a different weight…sportweight. I had all the measurements already so I swatched away with my now-discontinued KnitPicks Felici Sport….found the correct cast on number and within three short days, I had another pair of socks:
Two for two…another perfect fit!
I checked in with Kate today, and as of yet she does not have a publication date for her book (once she does I’ll blog that, too!), but I cannot recommend this process enough. At some point, I will check my “regular” 64 stitch fingering weight cast on to see if it can be improved, but for now, I suspect there will be a great many more non-fingering weight socks knit using these measurements. For starters…I have a LOT more of that Felici Sport sock yarn in my stash.
Pattern: Test Knit for Kate Atherley’s as yet unpublished book
Yarn: Cascades 220 Superwash in Jet/KnitPicks Felici Sport in Dapple (a little pastel for my tastes, and it was pointed out to me that it looks somewhat like an Easter egg!)
Who Was It Made For? Chase/Me
Were There Changes Made To The Pattern? None. Followed along exactly for test knitting purposes.
Did I Learn Anything New? Learned some facts and figures about sock fit…and sometimes a little work brings great rewards.
Anything Else? No.
Would I Make Another?: Absolutely. In fact, as I previously mentioned, I am likely to be using this pattern/formula/recipe for years to come.
I hear it’s the 4th Annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week! And since there has been a great deal of radio silence over here (sorry about that! Life got busy and in the way of the fun stuff!) I decided this was the perfect excuse to get my keyboard back in action.
Per Eskimimi, “A bit like Harry Potter, but not quite, this year’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses. Don your favourite knitted or crocheted hat and let it guide you to which house you will be in.”
The Houses are Bee, Manatee, Peacock and Monkey and each one has a different meaning. I have chosen as my house, The House of Bee.
The description is as follows:
Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest. This is particularly amusing right now, as lately, I have found myself with the worst case of “start-itis” I have had since I took up knitting in any serious fashion some two and a half years ago. I currently have ten projects on needles, including four pairs of socks. Mind you, one project is a few yards from completed and some are in hibernation…but still! And I have several more projects I am dying to cast on.
While I do occasionally learn new things, it’s not one of my main aims of knitting. I frequently cast simple stockinette socks and cowls…just to have something to knit to keep my hands busy, while requiring little to no real mental focus. The act of knitting, for me in any case, is meant to be a relaxing one.
So, the Bee seemed to represent me far better than the curious Monkey, the complicated Peacock or the calm Manatee.
Tomorrow’s post focuses on mascot projects…see you then! (Or before then if I manage to get my butt in gear and finally put up FO posts for the four projects I have finished in the past month or so…)
Fact the First: I have been wanting to learn how to knit a sweater for a while now. Not necessarily because I think I will ever do one for myself, but just because it might be a handy skill to have, especially since a couple in my building is due to have a baby in the next month or so.
Fact the Second: I do not learn new skills from reading. I wish I did. It would make my professional life so much easier and it would save me money. But there you have it. I love to read, but I am a visual learner. I used to think this was some sort of shortcoming on my part, but DH took a test when he started college to determine what sort of learner he was, and it turns out that some people just learn differently than others. Imagine that.
So I figured that once I got around to actually preparing to knit any sort of sweater, I would take a class, and a few Saturdays ago, Kate Atherley was teaching “Top Down Baby Sweaters” at The Purple Purl. She also made me into a sock knitter, so I signed up and off I went.
Turns out, top down sweaters are really not that hard after all. In class, Kate taught us the basic construction and got us partway through the sample size. This was the end result:
Notice the quarter for scale. I am not entirely happy with how the underarms turned out, but I am hoping it will get better with practice.
My first real baby sweater will be a test knit for Meghan Jackson, in fingering weight, and if it goes well, it will be a gift for the aforementioned couple in my building. If I had a lot more baby-friendly DK or worsted weight yarn, I might try Puerperium or One Piece Baby Sweater, but I suspect I will do the test knit first. I guess I had better decide soon!
I really, truly love knitting socks. This is mostly amusing because as a brand new knitter, the first time I went to the Purple Purl with my friend, Liz, she was knitting on a pair of socks and I shook my head in utter confusion. “Why”, I inquired, ” would you put SO much time and effort, not to mention money for expensive yarn, into something you are going to wear on your feet?” Total insanity, I thought. Clearly, knitters be crazy.
Then I took Kate Atherley’s top-down sock class and I was hooked. This was great fun, completely portable knitting especially where plain stockinette or easy patterned socks are concerned, and most importantly, unlike scarves, hats and cowls, I wear socks every single day from October to April or so. So having many of them…not a bad thing.
The only thing about fingering weight socks? Sometimes, they feel like they take for. ev. er. So a while ago, I was poking around in Glenna C.‘s Ravelry shop, and I saw her Armour Road Socks. Socks…in DK weight yarn. A few little cables to break up the monotony and I had been wanting to learn cabling without a needle anyway. How perfect!
So I bought the pattern, debated between multiple skeins of DK weight yarn in my stash and chose a skein of Tanis Yellow Label DK in Plum, which I had purchased at the Purple Purl during their 5th Birthday Sale in November. I tell you, this is instant gratification for sock knitters. I have small feet so I knit the smallest size. They were on the needles less than two weeks, and had they been my only WIP, I am certain I’d have had them done in seven days flat.
I inadvertently soaked them overnight, and when they dried they were lovely and soft and squooshy, and are perfect in my boots. Love them! Can’t wait to finish my next pair!
Pattern: Armour Road Socks by Glenna C.
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK in Plum. This colourway is nice enough but knits up a bit muted and “dusty” for me. I don’t love it.
Who Was It Made For? Me!
Were There Changes Made To The Pattern? None. Followed along exactly.
Did I Learn Anything New? Cabling without a needle – HUZZAH! My membership to the Fraidy Cat Duo has been revoked!! (Long story.)
Anything Else? No.
Would I Make Another?: Not only would I, but I have them on the needles already, this time in indigodragonfly Superwash DK in Monster Mash. Once those are done, I am casting on a pair in indigodragonfly MCN Sport (which is also a DK weight but with cashmere and nylon – YUM!)
Last summer, the lovely and talented Kate Atherley put out a Twitter call, looking for knitters to test knit for her new accessories book. At that point, I had taken Kate’s sock knitting class and I had even test knit for her before, so I thought it might be fun. I sent her off a message, volunteering to knit for her and I got back a surprising response: “Do you think you might want to knit a sample to be photographed for the book?” I was agape. Me? Knit for a book? I was honoured that she even asked and I responded that I would love to.
And then, almost immediately, the inevitable “imposter syndrome” set in. “What if I am not good enough? I am not a real knitter. What if the item I knit is not fit to photograph?” (I know…what exactly is a real knitter, anyway? And I have knit socks, lace, and so many other projects that this is a completely ridiculous train of thought, but there you have it. As anyone who knows me well can attest, I utterly lack self confidence.)
Because of Kate’s deadline, I was afraid to commit to socks, so she offered me her fingerless mitts to knit. Perfect….sounded like something I could do. I knit them up, and nervously sent them back to Kate, and hoped they met her expectations.
Fast forward to December, and the release of Knit Accessories. I leafed through it at the Purple Purl, and there were my mitts, beautifully photographed. (Photography is one of the things I really want to improve upon.) Kind of exciting when you have never had anything you knit print before. I was pretty thrilled and more than a bit proud.
This morning, Kate tweeted a new blog post. Knit Accessories has been reviewed, and quite positively I might add, by Vogue Knitting magazine. So excited for her! So I take a look at the photo of the review, and would you look at that? The pic they selected to run with the story….my mitts.
Something I knit is in VOGUE KNITTING! I understand that the pic was probably just the right size for the space or something, but I don’t care. I might be unreasonably pleased with myself.
What? What do you mean it’s not Wednesday? RIGHT! My brother was in town on business from Vancouver on Wednesday, and I was so happy to get to see him and have dinner with him after not having seen him in 14 months, I forgot to post. So this week, Spinning Wednesday has been postponed until Friday!
Last weekend, I broke my (albeit short) spinning hiatus. I had been dreading spinning, because I was trying to spin a particular braid of BFL and it was not going well. This braid was one I tried to spin on my spindle last year, and frankly, it was a bloody nightmare. I was sure it was felted. Matted and clumpy, and I could not seem to get a decent amount to spin, and when I did it just looked bad. After my very experienced friend Val examined it and determined it wasn’t felted (hey – I was and still am a newb – what did I know?) I was hell bent on trying it again.
Well I did…and I am done. To make a long story short, life is too short to drink bad wine, knit with bad yarn and spin with fibre that makes you want to rip your hair out, especially when one has a lovely stash of some 40 other lovely braids from which to choose.
So I tossed it and went stash diving…and located a lovely braid of Bee Mice Elf Superwash BFL in Plum that I purchased in a destash from Jacqueline, the woman who has contributed most, in several ways, to my fibre stash.
So the braid started out at the beginning of Saturday night’s hockey game, looking like this:
By the end of the night, half of it looked like this:
And by mid afternoon on Sunday, the whole thing looked like this:
Now, when I say it’s 4 ounces, it’s actually a touch less, because I had a few yards left in one single, and I Andean plied that, so it sits separate from this. I have also figured out that I am underspinning a little, because I have seen the twisted mess that results from overspinning, and I think I am overcompensating in the other direction. The biggest issue with that is that when I need to pull the single through the orifice because it has flown out of my hand, if disintegrates and I fight with getting it back. As a result of these little arguments, some bits of fibre may have ended up in the trash. But overall, it’s pretty much the whole braid.
I was pretty proud of this skein – I ended up with 130 yards, which is safely in the bulky-ish range, although I have not measured the WPI, which I should. I gave it a soak and it looked more like it was thinner and more even than anything I had previously spun. Then it dried. When it did, it fluffed up again, and now to me, this looks almost exactly the same as the last fibre I spun, which truthfully is a touch disappointing, as I want to be getting better.
But I keep reminding myself that it will take practice and I need to be practicing more consistently. Right now, I am in the middle of multiple knitting projects and with it being winter, hats and DK weight socks have taken precedence over spinning. But I know I should be spinning daily, even if it’s only for a short time each day, so that I can improve.
I will get there.