Switching between crafts

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.

This sweater is a combination of a Caramel cardigan for the background sweater and the floral chart from the Papa sweater.

More accurate colors in this daylight picture.

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.

Attempt number three to like this pattern

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 ended up trying five different red yarns.

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.

Venturing a bit further out

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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.

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A bit excessive

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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!

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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.

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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. . .

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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.

When not out watching my vines grow, I managed to finish my caramel/papa sweater. After ripping it out three times, I finally got it right. (Switching to an entirely new pattern helped.)

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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.

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I’ve been auditioning red yarns for the duplicate stitch.

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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.

Looking closer

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.

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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:

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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.)

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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.

8E15DA70-7B3C-4875-8FCE-6517DA4607A0And sharing the scenery with the bees.

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Meanwhile, no-longer-a-puppy Maxx kept watch.

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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.

Bountiful harvest

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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!

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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.

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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.

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And figure out a plan for when the late-planted summer squash and the cucumbers catch up!

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Mending

There is still very little crafting going on around here, as I continue to spend most of my time on my new job, or recovering from my new job, or cocooned on the couch watching inane television programs so I don’t have to think about my new job. No energy left for sewing or spinning or picking up stitches so my sweater will have sleeves.

However, I did manage to do some darning on my felted slippers.

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I’ve knit the Fuzzy Feet slipper pattern a multitude of times. My go-to yarn for this is Lamb’s Pride worsted, a combination of wool and mohair which usually felts beautifully and wears like iron. Something went awry in the machine felting this time, and the felting density was uneven. Throwing them back in the machine stopped having any effect – it was apparently as felted as they were going to get.

Since I wear these slippers without paying much attention to what is good for them, the bottoms tend to wear out first. Usually this takes a year or so, because they’re so tough, so even wearing them outside on the cement walkways doesn’t do much for quite a while. But these slippers just haven’t lasted the way they usually do.

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As I’m not spending much time knitting, I didn’t want to have to make another pair already, so I darned the bottoms instead where the yarn was starting to wear thin.

And I finally got to use the sock egg thingie I picked up a while back!

Horizontal stitches first, then weaving back and forth vertically and the worn spots of both feet have an extra layer built up again.

As you can see, I didn’t make any attempt to hide the fact that these are darned. If I was worried about a sophisticated slipper appearance, I probably wouldn’t be wearing these fuzzy feet slippers at all.  My criteria for slippers is all about warmth, nothing about appearance.

I really need to get on those sweater sleeves now. . .

Time?

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It may be time to get a new basic cookbook.

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My  parents gave me this cookbook when I went away to college. So, more years ago than I care to recall correctly. Lately, my sons have been using it to make cookies. Which may explain its current state, although I’m sure some of those stains are from me.  I at least kept the pages in order though!

Betty, thanks for all the help over the years.

Other things I’m calling time on include the Papa sweater that I’ve attempted three times.
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All of those pictures are the same yarn.  It fascinates me how it can look so many colors in different lights.

But in all of those pics, the yarn, no matter its color, is in the shape of an ill fitting mess.  Just not the pattern for me or this yarn.  So many increases in such a short space left weird puckers that looked even stranger on.

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So attempt #3 is now back to its primordial yarn form.

3D061B3B-C1D8-4952-9AFE-9E8E35F0F67DI’m consoling myself with my at-last-blocked purple sweater.

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Woodfords turned out to be a light, comfy everyday cardigan that I will wear a lot.  The yarn, Silky Wool, stretched in length quite a bit in the blocking, and I still wish I’d used a size down in the needle for a denser fabric, but the sweater is still great, and all those many, many ends are finally sewn in, both from the pattern and the knots in a couple of the skeins.

Now back to shifting through Ravelry for the next project.

Ewe and I

I spent the day yesterday at a wonderful new-to-me yarn shop in Chehalis with my fiber friends – Ewe and I.

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It is both yarn shop and cafe, so we used it as our landing spot and drank many cups of tea while we split off in small groups to check out other nearby businesses.

I highly recommend the Sisters quilting store as well.  Maybe wear sunglasses – the fabric is bright!

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So much Kaffe Fassett.  The choices were mind boggling.

Lunch back at the yarn store was as lovely as the fiber choices.

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Definitely a town to return to.  It is already on the calendar.