We’ve just finished up spring break in Surprise, Arizona, where my mom has a winter place.
I took my usual plethora of cactus photos.
We were very lazy this trip, spending much of the time hanging by the community pool during the day and playing games and working on puzzles in the evenings when we could pry the boys off their electronics.
They finished a lot of puzzles, mainly because they kept buying easier and easier ones. They wanted the sense of accomplishment rather than a challenge.
I walked a lot around the trails and neighborhoods with my sister, trying to build my endurance back up after a horrid chest cold that had taken down all my family members throughout March.
We did go overnight to Sedona and took one of the pink Jeep tours through the red rock area. Rough roads but gorgeous scenery.
On our way back we stopped at Montezuma’s Castle National Park to see the remains of the cliff dwellings. We needed to sneak at least a little education into the vacation.
I got just a bit of knitting done – I brought my sock to the pool every time, but the water called me away from the yarn.
This may be our last year here, as Mom isn’t sure she is going to come back. Having two places is getting to be a bit much for her. If it was our last trip, it was a very relaxing one.
I’ve finished the body of the Woolford sweater. The last skein was rather a mess – multiple knots in the yarn mean I’ll be sewing in many ends.
After a few trials and redos, I settled on a sewn bind off. It flares a little now, but the lower half is supposed to widen, caused by a gradual increase in needle size rather than stitch increases. So I think it will settle in during the blocking.
It is a comfy, slouchy sweater due to the rather loose gauge I ended up with because of my yarn and needle choice, but I’m still feeling good about it and the fit.
I also suddenly remembered the slippers I was making and pulled them out of their knitting bag. I only had one toe left to graft, so I got that done in a couple minutes. I’ve been throwing them into various loads of laundry and they are just about there. The yarn is Lamb’s Pride Bulky, and it felts really well. I’ve made many pairs of slippers from it.
Before – knit on size 10 1/2 needles:
After the first washing and drying:
Definitely felting happening (fulling, really, if I’m going to get the terms correct):
A couple more loads of laundry should do it. Luckily (?) my children generate a lot of laundry.
It’s getting close to the time where I need to look around for what the next knitting projects are going to be. I’ll need a work lunch time project and a home project soon.
Progress is being made, with minor setbacks.
My at-work knitting, a ribbed cowl made from wool and silk handspun is a visual joy to knit, though I ripped it back three times until I got a width and stitch pattern I liked. The yarn gleams and there is so much variation in the green. I’m loving every row, and it makes the meetings go faster.
My Woolford sweater is proceeding as well. I’m really looking forward to wearing it sometime soon.
My row gauge doesn’t match well with the called for gauge so I’ve made some changes in the rate of increases and decreases and I eliminated most of the lower back short rows that would have dipped the back hem as I prefer it straighter.
I’ve reached the wide lower border, which means a lot of ~300 stitch rows that I can crank out during TV or book time. The needles are getting progressively larger as well. I’m speeding through the yarn, which is a little worrisome as I have only eight skeins in the same dye lot. I’m hoping the difference won’t be as noticeable if I use the different dye lot just for the sleeves. So the first has to hold out through the lower part of the sweater.
On the quilting front , I finally faced facts and threw in the towel on the Growing Up Odd quilting. I paid my very broke son $5 to take out all the pins (he wanted a milkshake and I wanted to save my fingers!) and called up a local long arm quilting service.
I made the backing larger, ironed everything, and dropped it off yesterday with a nice man named Charlie who is going to cover it with blue thread meandering squares and get it back to me in a couple weeks. He is far better equipped to deal with a nearly king sized quilt.
It is a very impressive machine. My plan for my non-existent lottery winnings has a new addition.
My work on the Woodfords cardigan continues. I’m still amused and amazed by how it grows out in all directions.
To get to the current stage involved joining provisionally cast on stitches at the top of the back that form the neckband to the body, then knitting down the right front panel, complete with increases marked with safety pins. ( I can’t remember what these kinds of safety pins are called, but they don’t have the little circle, coil, at the end so they don’t get stuck in the yarn.)
Then I unraveled the crochet at the start of the provisional cast on, picked up the live stitches, and knit in the other direction for the left front, still in progress.
Because of the nature of provisional cast ons, the stitch pattern is half a stitch off where I changed directions in the neckband. You can see it in the pic below, but when I’m wearing the sweater and the neck scrunches up some it shouldn’t be noticeable.
I’m still having fun, and the directions are very clearly written, so I haven’t run into any problems so far. Although, as usual, I’m a little worried about the gauge. I’m using a size 5 needle with this Silky Wool yarn, but I’m wishing that I had used a 4. I think this sweater may grow over time.
I spent the weekend with friends at the annual Madrona winter fiber retreat in Tacoma, Washington. Four days of classes and vendors and hanging out with people who understand that knitting is an appropriate activity pretty much anywhere.
There were opportunities to see all sorts of examples of the crafts, from the stylish sheep in the pic above to even more intricate samples.
The inexhaustive options offered by yarn were inspiring.
The Murano hotel where the retreat is held is within walking distance of the Museum of Glass and the decor is all about glass – which is similarly inexhaustive in its varieties.
Our favorite was the kind that came with a drink in it. I highly recommend the Murano’s chai vodka sidecars.
I didn’t take classes this time and I didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon, but I learned a lot from my friends and spent time knitting and spinning. I also spent a lot of time wandering the vendors. So many beautiful colors and ways to display them!
I kept my head and came home only with a new bobbin for my wheel.
But I also found a pattern I loved that I had enough yarn for in my stash. I cast on as soon as I got home Sunday afternoon, even managing to coordinate my tea mug with the yarn.
The pattern is a cardigan called Woodfords, and the yarn is Silky Wool. The construction is very interesting — I’ve had to trust the pattern rather than understand it in advance and just dive in to each section as the sweater grows out in various directions.
So far I’ve cast on with long tail and provisionally, picked up stitches, knitted in three different directions in two different stitch patterns, and added a braid in what will become the upper back. It all seems to be working so far.
A quick December knit to add another present under the tree.
An almost finished double wrap cowl, made of several different colorways of Noro silk garden yarn. Quick and satisfying to knit.
The newest shawlette, not yet blocked
I can’t settle on a new knitting project. A finish of a complex multi-chart lace shawlette led to a binge knit of three identical cowls that are destined to be Chrismukkah presents. They were about as simple as a knit can be – stockinette tubes. The excitement was in the yarn. A fluffy mohair silk strand held together with a linen cashmere. It made for an almost weightless piece of cloth.
The unblocked presents-to-be
Since then I’ve been scouring my Ravelry favorites, trying to match yarn and patterns without success. The two just aren’t meeting up. I’m not sure what I really want to make. Nothing too complicated, but not just another cowl or scarf. It needs to be something I can knit while watching TV. It needs to be from stash yarn. I’m leaning towards thin rather than thick yarn. The yardage isn’t right, or the pattern is too expensive, or the color doesn’t work. I’m stalled.
I even started a scarf tonight, but ended up unraveling it all. The yarn combo I came up with just didn’t work. I will have to keep trying.
The failed scarf yarn choice heading back to the bins
In digging around I did come across a handspun silk scarf in progress that I last remember knitting on six years and two house moves ago. It was really buried! I will add a few inches to it while I ponder my next start.
I recently finished a two color shawl that I really like. It’s a triangle that grows from one side point across to a wide edge on the other side. It is mostly garter stitch, but with just enough variations and slipped stitches to make it interesting to knit.
I haven’t blocked it yet, so it is bound to grow larger.
Shawl: Lochlyn, in Mad Tosh Merino Light; colorways Cove & Whiskey Barrel
The shawl done, I needed more to knit, so I went stash diving and came up with two very different skeins.
The first is some of my handspun, polwarth wool and silk in a DK weight two ply. I dyed it turquoise and brown before spinning it, and while I’m not crazy about the final color, it is springy, cheerful, and quick to knit with. The cowl pattern I chose is a good one for mindless knitting in meetings and easily interrupted, so it has become my work project.
For home, I pulled out a very shiny tencel yarn that I bought at OFFF a couple of years ago. It is slick, and has absolutely no give, but I love the color and sheen. I chose a lacy shawl pattern with a bunch of charts, so I’m working on it in the evenings at home when I have time to concentrate. I’ve never blocked tencel, so I will have to do some research into methods.
It makes for a messy looking wad of yarn on the needles, but lace knitting becomes magically different once it is stretched.
Tencel yarn: Teresa Ruch tencel 5/2; colorway Sedona
As I showed at the end of my summer vacation post, I didn’t get a lot of knitting done this summer.
That trend has continued. There has been progress made on the shawl I started at the beginning of July, but it has been very slow. Now the cooler, wetter fall is upon us, I think that it will speed up a lot.
Pattern: Lochlyn Shawl — Yarn: Tosh Merino Light, in Whiskey Barrel and Cove.
Finally on summer vacation! And then I made the mistake of watering all the new plants in the garden, and a sudden rain storm blew in. My fault – I should have know better than to temp the rain gods like that.
But it made for a lot of available sewing time. I’m back at work on the Growing Up Odd quilt, chain stitching the little squares and building the different sized blocks.
I’ve finished the 7×3 and 7×7 blocks, 16 of each, and I have 34 of the 48 3×3 blocks done.
I tried hard to not duplicate fabrics in the same blocks. That was easy in the nine patches, but harder when it was a 49 square block, sewn together randomly in chunks. There is usually at least one repeat.
Sashing next. I’m planning to quilt it in strips to make it more manageable, though the actual quilting will have to wait until I get my Juki back from the shop. My smaller Brother machine is great for regular sewing, but it doesn’t like too much bulk under the needle.
I also finished up my ribbed scarf knit with a variety of coned yarns. I’m trying to clear up space in the craft storage. It is entirely 1×1 ribbing, so it made a great work project I could pick up during lunch or faculty meetings. No pattern or thought needed.
While I was knitting it the yarns were thin and almost cotton like – coned yarns still have oil on them as they were meant to be used on machines – but once it was done and hand washed in hot, soapy waters, and then dried on the hammock, the yarn softened and bloomed. Definitely a cold weather accessory, so it will be put away for awhile.