7.06.2015

Summer Lovin'

I'm going to be honest here. This is a very unpopular opinion, and I totally understand, but I feel the need to voice it anyway.

I don't really like summer.

Sure, it has some advantages, like longer days and more opportunities to go outside and gardening and flowers, but overall, it's just a few months that I tolerate between my two favorite seasons, spring and fall. It all goes back to my very strong dislike of being hot. I don't mean sweating while running, biking, hiking, or some other activity, I mean stepping outside and sweating, or sweating while sitting on the patio. Also, bugs. Have you ever been riding your bike up a mountain with no breeze while trying to fight off the cloud of gnats swarming around your face? I can assure you that it is terrible. And while it usually isn't hot here in comparison to many other places in the US, this summer we've already hit 90 multiple times. That's really, really hot here. Especially for June.

To help cope with these sweaty months, I've really thrown myself into summer knits. First there was my Seaboard Tank, and now most recently is my finished Saco Stripes Tank (I'm also just a few seams away from a new summer vest, which I'll post more about later). 


I thoroughly enjoyed every stitch of this knit, right down to the seams. I considered knitting it in the round, but was afraid my yarn, Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, would be too heavy, which would cause the top to stretch. Speaking of, this yarn really was great to work with. This was my first time knitting with it, and I actually ordered it for another project. It's labeled as a DK weight yarn, which it is clearly not - it's more like a heavy fingering. A lot of comments I read after I got it said it would bloom and transform into a DK weight after washing, but I didn't find that to be true. It did bloom a bit, but not whole lot to make much of a difference. Because I purchased the yarn with another project in mind, I had to make a pretty obvious modification to make sure I didn't run out of the main color - instead of the two row contrasting color stripes, I made mine 4 rows. I'm glad I did, I definitely would have run out of the main color if I hadn't.


I also chose to omit the edging around the arm and neck holes, mainly because it seemed tedious to me, and I didn't want to mess with it. I intentionally slipped the first stitch of every row throughout the entire project hoping it would make for neater looking edges so that I could leave that edging out, and it really did the trick. The straps do roll in a bit, but with a camisole underneath, I don't have to worry about bra straps hanging out.


I chose to knit the smallest size, giving me a bit of negative ease at the bust, and plenty of positive ease at the hips thanks to the a-line shape. In the past I've shied away from this shape, but I will admit that I love the way this looks.


And the drape of this hemp and cotton blend is just wonderful. So breezy and light, and it hangs just perfectly.


I'm totally sold on summer knits, however my fingers are starting to crave a nice, wooly fall sweater. Thankfully, Shannon's summer sweater KAL will be coming up soon - I'm planning to knit an Oshima (finally!).

6.02.2015

Hello, June!

I'm struggling with the fact that the year is already halfway over. How did that happen? It's one of those weird things that your grandparents used to always tell you - the older you get, the faster time goes by. It really feels like it was just February.

I apologize for the silence in this space. Life sure has been busy, and blogging is one of the things I've let fall by the wayside. But I'm jumping back in with both feet today, and showing you my most recent finished knit, the Seaboard Tank by Tanis Lavallee.


This little tank top is the perfect knit for summer. It goes well over a tank with jeans, or it can be worn over a dress for a more "adult" look. And even though it took me over a month to knit it, it could have been done quicker. This was my entry into Shannon's Tops Tanks & Tees KAL, and I think it's the first time I've actually finished before the deadline! It helped a lot that I jumped in with a knit already in progress, but hey, a finished project is a finished project.


The project was very straightforward and simple - a section of easy to memorize lace, followed by a section of stockinette, repeat to end. Boom.


I particularly love this side panel. The tank doesn't include any shaping, but I found that this side panel sort of forms to your body shape, giving it a little shaping.

The yarn I used is some of my naturally dyed. It was originally dyed with black beans, but came out more of a grey color than I'd hoped, so I overdyed it with a bit of hibiscus flower, which gave it an ever so subtle purple hue. I really like it, and think it's a great neutral.


I'm officially hooked on knitting summer tops, and have already cast on a Saco Stripes as my second entry in the Tops Tanks and Tees KAL, as well as for a fun KAL with some Instagram buddies. If you're interested in joining (and you should, if you don't have a ton of other projects going on!) you can read more about it in Lesley's Ravelry group

Happy June, everyone. I hope you're enjoying your week!

4.17.2015

Sweet Sproutlette

I had planned to do an in-progress post of this little knit, but it appears I won't be able to do that, since it's already off the needles and blocked.

This took less than 2 weeks from start to finish, and probably would have been done sooner, but there were probably 5 days or so in that time that I didn't work on it for one reason or another. I will, however, share some in-progress photos.


This sweet little dress is Sproutlette, by Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts. This is my first time knitting a TFA pattern, but it won't be my last (in fact, I've already started another one!). The pattern was very well written, and the adorableness factor is off the charts.


This yarn has been in my stash for about 6 years (!!!). It's now discontinued, which I guess can happen when you hoard something away for that long. While knitting, I was trying to figure out why it took so long for me to knit it, and I think it was because it kind of stood for a turning point in my knitting. This was the first skein of yarn I purchased from an indie dyer, as opposed to buying from the big box craft store. I guess that made it special to me, although it wasn't exactly intentional. While I love the color, I didn't really love the feel of the yarn while knitting with it. It's 100% superwash wool, but it felt almost acrylic. I've learned recently that the superwash process either coats the wool in a layer of polymer, or uses an acid treatment, to make the wool machine washable. If I had to guess, I'd say this was treated with the polymer method, because it had a plastic-y feel to it. It softened up after blocking, so I don't worry about it being an irritant to the baby's skin, but it wasn't my favorite to knit with. However, when making baby gifts (for non-knitters, especially), machine washable yarn is a huge plus, I think.


I mean, how cute is that? I hope the mother to be loves it, and that the baby gets lots of use. After a lot of contemplating, and lots of advice from you guys, I decided to go with the 0-6 month size for a few reasons. First, I was a little worried one skein wouldn't be enough for the 6-12 month size. I'm pretty sure now I could have made it, but it wasn't something I wanted to chance - especially with the  yarn being discontinued. Second, since the baby is due in June, she'll be able to wear it through this summer, and into the fall with tights and something under it. And, maybe next spring and summer it'll still fit, just as a top rather than a dress. I also didn't want to make something that couldn't be used for a year, with fear that it might get stuck in a drawer somewhere and forgotten about (thanks for the tip, Rachel!). I'm very happy with my decision, and just absolutely love how this turned out. I hope I have a reason to make more in the future!

4.02.2015

Cutch Ginkgo

I wrote about this shawl a few weeks ago when I wrote about all the projects I had on my needles. I wasn't expecting to be finished with it this soon, but after weighing my yarn halfway through the second chart repeat, I realized Jesse & I would be playing some serious yarn chicken if we repeated the entire chart twice, so we bound off after working the chart one and a half times. The result is a lovely sized, delicate, shawl.


This shawl is so special. Not only is the yarn naturally dyed, but it's the first thing that Jesse and I have knitted together that's exactly the same. She put it best - it's the knitting version of the 90's BFF necklaces.
 
The color is a bit hard to pick up - it's a wonderful orangeish-brown, with red tones. Great description, right? The above color is probably the most accurate that we could get.

I also want to take a second to apologize to those of you that are still snow-covered. I hope these photos give you a glimpse of what's to come - Spring will arrive! We've been having some beautiful weather this week, and I'm getting really excited for the flowers to bloom, and all the gardening in my future.

 

The yarn I used for this shawl is a 70/30 wool/silk blend from Knit Picks that I picked up during one of their sales. I've dyed two other skeins of it, and I just love the way the wool and silk pick up the dye. The yarn always turns out so silky, with just a hint of sheen. I plan on using one of the skeins for a pair of socks, and I'll be interested to see how the yarn holds up as socks. I loved working with it, and may use the remaining 98 yards of this skein for a pair of fingerless mitts.


 
Since I got two projects off the needles this past weekend, I've already started a new laceweight tank for me, and will cast on for the baby knit I asked your advice on last week. I hope to have a post next week to show you what project I ended up choosing! Thanks to all of you for weighing in - it was much appreciated!

3.30.2015

Black Walnut Socks

This weekend, I finished not just one, but two projects! And I managed to clean the house. I think this was mainly because winter decided to grace us with her presence again this past weekend - highs were in the 40s, and lows in the low 20s, with high winds, so there wasn't a whole lot of time spent outside.

The first project I finished was my cozy, thick socks. The pattern, Aran Socks, from the book Country Weekend Knits, was the first pattern I've used from this book. I love the book, and I love all the different sock patterns in it, but if this pattern is any indication of how the rest of the book will read, I'm not sure I'll be making many more projects from it. I had to make quite a few modifications to the pattern, and one of the cable rows has an error in it. I've detailed most of my modifications on my Ravelry page, but I'll speak to a few of them here also.


I will say, despite all the adjusting I had to do, I really love these socks. I've hardly taken them off since I finished them - I'm even wearing them right now! They're very cozy and warm, and I love the look of them. This is my first finished project using my naturally dyed yarn, and I love the result. The yarn itself is nothing fancy - it's just under two skeins of Paton's classic wool. Starting out with natural dyes, I've not been able to justify using nice, more expensive wool for fear of a disaster, which would ruin something nice. As I get more experience I think I'll branch out into some nicer wools, but for now, this is working great. This yarn was dyed with black walnut hulls that I collected from our yard. As you can see, one skein is a little more variegated than the other, but it's not that noticeable. Having a larger dye pot would help with that.


The first major modification I made was to cast on only 60 stitches instead of the 76 stitches the pattern calls for. 76 stitches for a worsted weight sock?? I realized these are supposed to be more like "house socks" instead of socks you wear under boots, but even after cutting out 16 stitches, the socks do a little slouching on their own while wearing them. I can't imagine they'd even stay up a little bit with those extra 16 stitches.

I also had to play around with the ribbing some. The instructions are very unclear in the pattern, and if one were to knit them as written, you'd end up with a panel of 4 knit stitches running down the middle of the back of the sock, yet the photos in the pattern don't show the sock with that, so I made some adjustments to make the ribbing a continuous k2,p2. I've noted those mods in my Ravelry notes. Since I started with less stitches, I also had to change the way I did the heel, but it wasn't too difficult, and worked out nicely. Those notes are also on my Ravelry page, along with the correct instructions for row 11 of the cable pattern.



All in all, I'm counting these socks as a huge win. I have a feeling they're going to be well-loved!

3.24.2015

A Knitter's Struggle

I usually don't have this struggle. I can usually pair yarn with a pattern fairly easily - with one exception. Baby knits. I'm basically clueless when it comes to babies and knitting for babies. I've knit only one garment for a baby once - a baby sophisticate sweater for my nephew, and I'm pretty sure it fit him for about an hour before he outgrew it. 

So here's my current situation.  I'm going to a baby shower in a couple of weeks, and I want to knit something for the little girl who is due in June. I've picked out this wonderful skein of Hermosa Fiber Company sock yarn, but I'm struggling with what to make. I've narrowed it down to two choices - the Immie Tee by Carrie Bostick Hoge, or the Sproutlette Dress by Tanis Lavallee.


So my question to you is, which one should I go for? And, which size do I make? Since these are both spring/summer knits, and the baby is due in June, I could make the newborn size, but then they would only be wearable for a few months. If I make the 6-12 month size, they could be worn next spring & summer. Furthermore, if I made the 6-12 size of the dress, it could be worn as a tunic once the baby gets too big for it to be worn as a dress.

Knitters with lots of baby knitting experience, what are your thoughts?

3.18.2015

A Host of WIPs

There has been quite a bit of knitting going on in these parts. Too much, some might even say. (Just kidding, that's not a thing.) I'm currently plugging away on 3 projects, two of which are nearing the end.

First are these wonderful thick, cozy aran socks.


I posted a photo of the first finished sock a few posts back, and right now I'm about halfway through the second sock. The cozyness factor of these socks is off the chart, and as a person who wears wool socks inside all year long, I'm looking forward to having these off the needles and on my feet.

A few days before Jesse came to stay with us, I dyed up two skeins of wool/silk blend using cutch extract - one for me, and one for her. While she was visiting, we decided to use them to knit the same project, giving us 100% matching shawls. If that's not true friendship, I don't know what is. We landed on the ginkgo shawlette, a beautiful free shawl pattern. Since each skein of yarn is 440 yards rather than 330 yards the pattern calls for, we're going to add to the lace pattern to make it bigger than the pattern. I'll admit, the stockinette section seemed to take forever to me, but once I hit the lace it's been flying. I'm officially hooked on double-sided lace patterns - no more boring purl rows!


I absolutely love how this color turned out, and how it's knitting up. I'm a bit further than this now, and the lace pattern is really starting to stand out.

Finally, just a couple of days ago I started a lightweight pullover. Last year, an Instagram friend, Corinne, was de-stashing some of her yarns, and I grabbed a ziplock bag full of Quince and Co's Finch. I wasn't sure how much was in there, but loved the look of all the colors together, and thought it would make a nice cowl if nothing else. Plus, I'd been itching to try some Quince and Co yarn, and this was the perfect opportunity to snatch some up and give it a try.


Boy was I surprised when this arrived and I weighed it to figure out the yardage. You're looking at almost 1,700 yards of this bouncy, squishy, lovely yarn. I knew that they belonged together in some sort of pullover, I just wasn't sure. So I did a quick gauge check, ran some numbers, and cast on with no real plan in mind, other than a top down, raglan style, striped pullover.


This is what it looked like yesterday morning. I put in some work on it last night, and am already loving how it's turning out. At first I tried to imagine all different types of striped sequences - wide stripes getting smaller down the body, smaller stripes getting wider going down the body (that one went out the window pretty quickly - no one wants to look like they're getting wider down their body...), or stripes of different, yet complementary, sizes in a particular color order. In the end, I decided to throw all those out the window, and change colors whenever I feel like it. These colors all fit together pretty well, so I felt like throwing caution and planning to the wind could work. So far, so good. But I'll save those photos for another post.

Another reason I decided to go ahead and start this pullover is because it's the perfect companion knitting for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament - I don't really have to pay attention to it like I would with the lace and cables in my other two projects, and the theme of the sweater sort of matches the theme of the tournament - no one is able to predict the outcome.

I'd love to hear what you're working on these days!