Between an endless stream of illnesses (nothing life-threatening; thanks, modern medicine!), house stuff, and non-sleeping babies, I've had just the barest little nubs of time here and there to do anything creative. I've been knitting and sneaking in a bit of spinning, because apparently there's very little can completely stop the needles/spindles, but it's been at the expense of taking a moment to record anything about it. The major knitting WIP at the moment is secret, obligatory, and on a deadline, so that further reduces the odds of having anything interesting to share on any given day. Good thing I've put off blogging for so long, to give my little corral-o-personal projects time to marinate/multiply. It's getting pretty out of hand, actually - I'm barely in the single digits, if we agree to ignore the spinning projects (and let's, shall we?) Without further ado, here's the parade:
When my LYS/place of employment was closing last year, I picked up a big empty picture frame that once displayed samples for a couple of bucks. The idea was to use it for some kind of arty, fibery wall hanging. In my aforementioned state of pre-baby panic last summer, I finally got started on The Thing in question. I know next to nothing about weaving but despite my ignorance decided it would be a good idea to put a bunch of tiny nails in the frame, warp it with some cotton thread, and start weaving with some odds and ends of handspun yarn. After a minor setback or two, and even with a 2.5-year-old helper, things got off to an auspicious start. It gave me something on which to to focus my nervous energy as my due date at the end of August approached. I sweated over it with my back screaming during the first week of September while Max loafed around, apparently having missed his eviction notice. And then, finally, a baby showed up, and it sat largely untouched in the office for seven months. I dragged it back out the other day and ham-handed some mounting hardware into both it and the conspicuous gap between the sconces in order living room wall. Now it's hanging, something like 25% complete, and demanding attention. I think it looks pretty neat even in its unfinished state. It's, like, a metaphor, man.
I've been slowly working on getting the stash organized and documented in Ravelry. Sometime early last year, in a fit of pre-baby nesting*, I cleaned out my half of the office, which had become a barely-glorified dumping ground for all the odds and ends we wanted to keep out of the reach of our firstborn. About three quarters of my stash was jammed in there, too, along with a big bin of samples. Enter this
hanging sweater bag that I stumbled upon at The Container Store. It lives in a tiny, under-the-stairs closet off of our weird little spare room, and it now contains 90% of my yarn. The blue bin down in the righthand corner houses spinning fiber and handspun, and the little white one has leftovers and laceweight. Samples have been re-homed, along with FOs and commercially produced, critter-susceptible clothing, to a cedar chest that I scored at a local thrift shop just before my due date last summer.
*nesting, in this case = panic-organizing, with the realization that I won't get another chance until who knows when.
I'm halfway up the second sleeve of my Pintuck Cardigan, and I've definitely reached the tipping point. You know that magical point in a project, where yes, you're fantasizing about the next thing in the queue, perhaps mentally digging the bulky merino singles out of the closet for a quick hat, hmm, nice ... but instead of all that potential dalliance slowing you down, you put on a burst of speed and race to the finish? For me, it usually happens at about 80% completion, and if I'm lucky it'll carry me all the way through weaving in the ends.
Which reminds me of what I'd come over here to post about: when I'm working on the round on magic loop or dpns, I like to use the leftover tail from casting on as an end-of-round marker. After working a few rounds, I grab the end and tuck it through a stitch at the outside of my work, as pictured above. For something like a sock, I just pass it from the inside to the outside of the tube, so it's sticking out from between rounds of knitting. Either way, it's super easy to pull it out and replace it closer to the business end of your work as it grows. No fiddling with markers and no stopping to scrutinize your work to figure out where to place those increases. Plus no getting off the couch and digging around in project bags to find a marker, god forbid.
Ah, another sad tale of mismatched yarn and pattern. I really wanted to make this one work: I re-jiggered the math to suit my gauge, knit a bunch, did some more math, decided I'd probably run out of yarn, ripped it out, massaged the numbers again, cast on again, and got back through almost a whole skein before finally admitting defeat. The yarn in question, Kenzington, is a tweedy, cable-plied number that knits up pretty nicely at about 3.5 stitches per inch. The pattern, Chateau, calls for 2.5 stitches per inch ... a pretty significant discrepancy, obviously. The pattern's basically a giant rectangle, so I figured I could make it work anyway, but then I ran into the yardage problem. I've mostly recovered from a longstanding tendency to buy skimpy, almost-sweater quantities of yarn, but this was an exception - one of those last-four-skeins-at-the-LYS-sale situations. I suppose I could go rustle up a skein or two on destash, but for now I'm contemplating vests.
The poor dog was looooong overdue for a new sweater by the time this winter rolled around. Fortunately it's been a mild year, because it took until February for me to finish it up. I used the Darling Darby sweater as a jumping-off point. It's the same pattern I used when I knit her last sweater, 5 years ago(?!). It's as perfect as I remembered it, endlessly customizable; ideal for an odd-shaped pup like ours. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, held double and knit at a dense gauge. I'm sure it'll be prone to pilling in this application, but what the hell. Asia just turned twelve and is adjusting to life with not one but two small boys; I figure she deserves a little something nice. Also it was stash yarn in an awesome - but not necessarily flattering to pasty white people (that's us during sweater season) - color.
So I whipped through this thing in just a couple of days... and then realized that I'd forgotten to leave a hole for her harness/leash. A dog sweater has pretty limited usefulness if the dog in question can't leave the yard wearing it. Here's how I executed the afterthought buttonhole thingy:
Not pictured: move lower row of held stitches to needles and knit; pick up and knit two stitches at side of buttonhole; move upper row of held stitches to needles and knit; pick up and knit two stitches at other side of buttonhole. Knit one round; bind off all stitches. Weave in ends, paying special attention to securing snipped ends. I used a single strand of yarn and pretty small needles (5s?) to make a small, firm opening:
Ugh. Having Ike in preschool two days a week has definitely been a net positive, but holy hell, I am not exaggerating when I say that neither he nor the baby have been healthy for more than 3 days at a time since he started in October. Poor boys. On the upside, I've finally stopped coming down with every endless variation of rhinovirus that walks through our door. Max, however, doesn't seem to have gotten the memo about breastfeeding and increased immunity, blah blah blah.
At any rate, the Pintuck Cardigan is progressing, if a bit slowly. I'm through 27 of 34 body shaping rows, not that I'm counting. I cheated on it with a dog sweater (more on that later) and a secret hat. Also some spinning. Oops.
Sure is nice to follow someone else's design sometimes, especially for a big project like a sweater. It feels like such an indulgence to relax and go along for the ride. Icing on the cake: it's a physical pattern, from the Knit.Purl fall/winter 2014 issue. Something about a paper pattern still reads easier for me than a PDF, further evidence that I make a terrible millennial. Of course, I never can quite leave well enough alone - modifications are being made - but for the most part I'm trusting the designer. What mods I am making (so far) are for the sake of fitting my non-standard size.
Loving the simple-with-thoughtful-details vibe of this cardigan, and really loving that I'm 2/3rds of the way up to the armhole divide (sportweight adult sweater = a whole lot of stitches, no matter how you slice it).
Pattern: Pintuck Cardigan by Bristol Ivy
Seriously, this the The Best Granola. Capitalization and everything. I guess that technically the superlative is subjective, so maybe a better way to describe this recipe is Amanda's Ideal Granola.
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (less if you're using table salt)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup sweetener (I use 1/4 cup brown sugar + 1/4 cup maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
scant 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, with the help of a preschooler if one is available (someone needs to sneak a small, unspecified number of plain oats into his/her mouth in order for the proportions to be just right). Mix wet ingredients - I like to melt the coconut oil in my Pyrex measuring cup, then add just enough brown sugar and maple syrup to make 3/4 cup of total liquid, so actually just a little less sweetener than called for above - then add the vanilla and almond extracts. Pour over the dry stuff and combine. Spread into a thin layer on a 1/2 sheet pan. If you have a Silpat or similar device, this is an excellent application for it. Place in oven and turn heat down to 250F, or as low as your oven will go. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes, till the granola has reached optimal golden-brown-deliciousness, about 45 minutes to an hour. Feel free to mix in some chopped, crystallized ginger at this point... yes please. Once cooled, this will keep in an airtight container for longer than we've successfully left it alone, so at least 3-4 days? But I'm guessing at least a week, if your household is more disciplined than ours.
Well, I managed to power through the miles-long bindoff in two sittings last weekend, no small portion of the credit for which goes to my mom, who was in town to "visit" (read: help wrangle the boys/help me maintain my sanity). Fellow knitting enthusiasts understand that occasionally getting a project off the needles goes a long way toward feeling like oneself, especially after a major life change like adding an extra human to the family. Substitute the appropriate vocabulary for your particular brand of nerdiness as necessary.
The yarn was spindle-spun singles, from my first bump of Loop fiber. I purchased it at Rhinebeck 2014. I'm counting 15 months from fiber to FO as a win. The spinning experience was lovely until I got down to about the last quarter of it. I pulled from the center of the bump and had been dragging it around with me for months, so by the time I got to the outer layers of fiber they were pretty badly compacted. I chucked the very last of it, much to my chagrin. Despite the wasted bits, the finished yarn still clocked in at about 900 yards. As for the pattern, I semi-followed Stephen West's Bolting, which was pleasantly mindless and very customizable.
Pattern: Bolting by Stephen West
Yarn: About 900 yds handspun singles, light fingering-ish weight. Fiber from Loop; merino-bamboo-silk; colorway Mums.
Mods: Kept on knitting the zigzags till my yarn was almost gone - got through 11 altogether. Shortened garter st section to 6 rows. Knit a light fingering weight yarn on US 5s; pattern calls for worsted weight.