WordPress tells me that this is my 350th blog post, which probably calls for deep and insightful thoughts on fiber and making and blogging, but I have none.
What I do have is hats.
My go-to hat pattern for present production is this one. I’ve made a lot of them – they are great for single skeins of handspun.
It is a very simple pattern with a little band of twisted stitch cables near the start to keep it interesting. It takes only one or two evenings for each. I’m using heavier yarns for these, or holding the yarn doubled (the red one) so they are sturdy and warm.
This particular batch is destined for my co-workers as holiday gifts.
The official name for this yarn color is 111. Not a lot of poetry there! But a perfect color, despite the name, for this time in spring when all the new leaf buds are coming forth.
Almost the color of the fresh vinca minor leaves. . .
Or the newly emerging irises, at the base. . .
Or the almost blooming tulip flowers. . .
The yarn is Huasco sock yarn from Araucania, and I’m knitting an Arrowhead Lace scarf for my sister. She asked for a bright green and this yarn had arrived in the mail the day before. It was fate!
I added an extra repeat for more width, and I think I will add an edging to the ends when it is long enough. A very quick 4 row pattern that I memorized by row 8.
Though it hasn’t all been easy. The young-and-dumb dog dragged the new skein off the table and turned it into a jumble. Luckily she didn’t have too long with it and it only took an hour+ to get it untangled.
That dog has been through more yarn. I’ve fished skeins out of bushes and from under beds. She can’t help herself, and apparently I don’t learn. It only takes dropping my vigilance once and the yarn is doomed.
The bright scarf continues to grow. More autumnal than spring colors, really. The next one needs to be leafy greens, I guess.
March’s knitting has been all linen stitch. My previous project was also a scarf, made with a bunch of yarn spun by a friend from fiber I sent to her and some sock and sweater yarn remnants. I haven’t been spinning at all, but the stash is still slowly going down thanks to her work at the wheel.
There were a lot of different colors in the yarns that went into it, but the overall impression is very brown toned.
With these linen stitch scarves I always knit them wider than the final version I want because the long rows stretch a lot when blocked, making the scarf narrower and longer. I dry them over the shower curtain rod and while they hang there I also cut the fringe. They need to be dry for that so the yarn has sprung back into its natural state. I cut one once when the fridge was wet and it was very uneven when it dried.
I used Zimmerman’s sewn bind off, which took a long time with almost 400 stitches! It is supposed to closely resemble a long tail cast on, which it might have, but because I was using a different color than the previous row, it doesn’t really. Having the row before the bind off as a slipped stitch row probably messed with the tension as well. Something to play with on the next scarf.
The brown edge on the left is the cast on. The orange and brown on the right is the sewn bind off.
Overall, I learned some lessons and the finished scarf is just the right length and weight. Drapey and soft and warm.
I’m going to give it to my co-teacher tomorrow. He’s been an absolute saint the last couple of weeks when the whole school went back to the classrooms in hybrid mode, except for me. I’ve been a talking head on a giant TV, zooming in to teach the history half of humanities until my first vaccine shot kicked in. He rigged up the set up and even a camera and microphone so I could see and hear the class. The set up looks like this:
It is a ridiculous way to teach, but I wasn’t able to go back until I had at least partial immunity from the first shot. Almost half our students are staying remote, so we’ll still be teaching one humanities class over Zoom and some electives with mixed in person and remote. School is weird these days.
Tomorrow will be my first day teaching since March 2020. A whole year! I hope it lasts. The bigger high school in our district had to go back to remote temporarily after only a couple of days in person due to a big COVID spreading party some of the high schoolers threw. Fingers are crossed. . .
For a long time I didn’t do a lot of knitting. I was spending my available time with quilts, and just didn’t pick up the needles much. And there was a time in there as well when I was spinning and spinning.
But now I seem to be back to knitting. I have several WIP quilt tops that I can’t be bothered to complete somehow, other than a baby quilt back and the start of summer. And my spinning wheel is getting pretty dusty. But the yarn keeps my attention, whether soft as a breeze garter stitch scarves or actual sweaters.
And I have a finish! After a lot of trauma with the pattern, restarting and revising multiple times, I’ve finished a sweater that I absolutely love.
I tried really hard with the actual Papa sweater pattern. I knit the body almost completely twice, and a third time halfway. But I couldn’t get past the puckery gathers. Because the sweater is designed not to have any increases in the space where it is charted for the flowers, there are a TON of increases in a short space. And it just was too much for me and the yarn I’d chosen, a wool/silk blend from Cascade called Roslyn.
I tried variations on the increases, but it was never going to be something I’d wear.
So, looking for alternatives, I found the Caramel cardigan. I’m always going to wear a cardigan more than a pullover anyway, and I liked the idea of moving the flowers to the lower border. I’d always planned to do them as duplicate stitch rather than stranded, so the number of stitches not matching was not a worry – I could fudge the chart when it came time to stitch them in.
Caramel is a simple and drapey pattern so it went smoothly. Then I had to audition a lot of reds for the flowers. A red Roslyn didn’t cover as much, and doubling up fingering weights didn’t give me what I wanted, but worsted weight did. So I ordered a couple different Cascade 220 bright and deep reds and one of them was perfect. (I just wish I could remember which one was the winner – I seem to have lost the ball band.)
I watched a lot of BritBox shows while doing this duplicate stitch. I’m a huge fan of Gardener’s World, and when I ran out of new episodes and had to wait, I switched to a favorite low-budget sci-fi show, Red Dwarf. There have also been a lot of district meetings about online teaching, so I added flowers during those too. (It helped with the despair created by that many Zoom meetings and training videos.)
The finished sweater fits, it is slouchy and comfortable and bright and cheerful and I am so happy I persevered through all the rows and rows of yoke increases that went nowhere.
And now a new sweater is being born on the needles. I like to try new construction methods and I don’t like to sew in sleeves, so the Spøjs cardigan is perfect. It is knit in two halves and then those are knit together while binding off the provisional cast-on. I’ve learned a new stitch making it: the half fisherman’s rib, which is easy but interesting to make. I’m using Roslyn again because I enjoyed its feel so much that I ordered two more colors (and a third just found its way into my shopping cart).
The color is a dull, dusty brown, and given my mood when I cast on – the PNW on fire everywhere and confined indoors because of the horrendous air, after months of being confined at home because of a still worsening pandemic, the latest weather news that they’d run out of letters for hurricanes and had to switch alphabets, and then RBG died . . . last week was like the world couldn’t get any worse. I’m basically waiting for the Big One earthquake or an alien abduction at this point. So I’ve named this sweater the Ashes of 2020. I’m hoping 2021 will arise like a phoenix from these ashes. Or, at least I’ll have a new sweater to wear as the authoritarian order cracks down and I have to join the resistance and live in the woods. The part that hasn’t burned down anyway.
We had to cancel most of our summer plans to be safe, but we were able to substitute in one long weekend at the Oregon coast. A rental cabin with a private backyard, so still socially distanced. I’m getting a chance to knit by the sea and count sea lions. It’s lovely.
Twenty-four sea lions this afternoon, bobbing where a river opens into the sea.
I’m still spending a lot of time in the garden each day. I am really loving the spiral vine anchors that the various vegetables are putting out.
But I have learned a lesson about not scouring under every leaf when harvesting. These zucchini grow fast!
These seem to have grown overnight! So much for my plan to pick them when they are small. I only turned my back for a minute!
And the summer squash have started as well.
We’ve made zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, and breaded zucchini fries. It didn’t even make a dent.
And now the cucumbers are beginning. . .
It is smaller than my pinky now, but there are at least 12 plants! I may not have thought out this out carefully enough. I’m going to have to start sneaking veggies onto my neighbors’ front steps and running away.
The second sleeve went quickly, and I really love the useful new stitch markers I got recently. Usually I use coil-less safety pins, but they’ve been disappearing over time as all small things do, so I ordered this colorful set of bulb shaped pins. I like to leave them in the sleeves to show where all the decreases are so that I can make sure I’m matching the sleeves as closely as possible.
I’ve been auditioning red yarns for the duplicate stitch.
It looks like a worsted yarn looks the best, so I’ve ordered a skein of dark red Cascade 220 to be sure I will have enough. All the red I had in quantity were more of a fingering weight. And I really didn’t want to get 2/3 of the way through the one small ball of worsted I had and run out and not know where to get more.
The duplicate stitching is going to be my evening TV watching project, so it probably won’t finish too quickly. It is too hot for sweater wearing right now anyway, so no hurry.
The patio knitting continues. I’ve gotten the first sleeve on my caramel sweater done since the pic below was taken and gotten the double points in for the second. The yarn is Roslyn from Cascade, a wool/silk blend. The plan is to duplicate stitch around the bottom in a red design once I’m done with the knitting.
The knitting would go faster if I wasn’t distracted by the garden. This time it started with trying to see how close up I could get with my phone and iPad cameras to various surfaces:
My jeans, the table top, a patio paver, and a slightly blurry zucchini.
Then I went for more zucchini elements. (Honestly, the zucchini and I are absolutely bonded at this point.)
From there I was pretty much crawling around on the lawn and patio trying to get as close to various flowers as the camera focus would allow.
And sharing the scenery with the bees.
Meanwhile, no-longer-a-puppy Maxx kept watch.
Well, when she wasn’t messing up my shots by barging in and trying to eat the bees. That is a lesson soon to be learned.
The new raised bed soil must be incredibly fertile. The zucchinis have gone mad! They’re about 4 feet tall, and have completely smothered the beans, and the peas behind them have barely managed to escape upward.
And there are a lot of zucchinis starting in there!
This morning’s harvest beside the bowl – I’ve been trying to pick them when they’re small, but if I let it go a couple of days they don’t wait for me.
Luckily, my husband likes to bake. So today I’m going sit on the patio and eat chocolate zucchini bread and knit a sleeve on my sweater.
And figure out a plan for when the late-planted summer squash and the cucumbers catch up!