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.

Row by row

My work on the Woodfords cardigan continues.  I’m still amused and amazed by how it grows out in all directions.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

 

 

Madrona

1A84D652-93E3-4291-9AB5-B597BEEC1C7EI 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.

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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.

55CDAB07-5148-4A8D-B60D-620A4A5A9B0AOur 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!

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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.

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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.

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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 finish, a start, and a revival

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My finish this week is my Aether shawl.  I’m sad to have finished it.  I loved the yarn, loved the pattern, loved the process.  And I suspect, if the trend continues, that I will love wearing it.

The before and after shots show the magic role blocking plays in lace knitting!  This shawl has a six foot wingspan, and that is after I skipped the final pattern repeat.

I finished it up in Seattle where I joined my fiber friends, Paige, L1 (AKA Seattle Leslie) and L2 (AKA Oregon Leslie).

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(A sample picture of the necessities for a knitting weekend. Plus wine.)

We spent most of the time hanging out with our knitting, but we did take a break at one point to drive over to Carnation, for a first time visit to Tolt Yarn and Wool.

It is a warm, friendly shop, and a sweater knitter’s dream.  So many beautiful yarn lines, worsted and woolens in a rainbow of solids and heathers.  Whole sections provided enough colors for any fair isle project.  It made my fingers inch to take up a project with lots of cables or complicated multi-color patterns.

There were less of the highly varigated or speckle dyed yarns that are the recent craze.  It fell into more classic styles in the yarn and in the samples.  It made for a very pretty shop.

So what did I buy? Yarn made of nettles. Not soft, not pretty, but it intrigued me. I think it will someday become placemats, or a table runner. They should be hard wearing and drapey after repeated washing.

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My new knitting start is another pair of socks, to become the tote bag project.  There always needs to be a portable project in my tote bag.  These will be made from another skein of Knit Picks Bare that I dyed in jars, this time in turquoise, gray, and a gray-blue.  The free pattern is called Petty Harbour, and I have knit it before.  It is a simple four row repeat, which is what on-the-go, frequently interrupted knitting needs.

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My revival is my handspun sweater that has languished in a bag in the craft closet for months.  I’m not sure why, other than it has so many different balls of yarn attached that it takes some effort and space to keep untangling them all.  The pattern is simple, the yarn wrangling is not.

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Just a simple raglan cardigan-to-be, made entirely from my handspun yarn.  It is using up a lot of the single skeins that had been piling up.

Overall, a yarn filled week.  That’s never a bad thing.  🙂

Cocooning

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Another stuck at home day, worsened by a very slight temp increase that has turned the powdery snow from yesterday to slush and icy rain. Tonight it is all supposed to freeze over again and kill anyone who dares roll wheels out of their driveway,

A lazy day for me is a new handspun cardigan knitting project started, plus tea and popcorn.

A lazy day for the boys is electronics, sword fights, HGTV and Wii.

I’m not actually sure what my husband’s been up to. He holed up in the office doing accounting type things for work. He did come out at one point to play Pokémon Monopoly with Son #2.

My cardigan is mostly the pattern Less is More, from Knitty.  I’ve made a few mods – worsted yarn instead of DK, I dropped the extra rows for the rolled neckline because I’m planning I-cord, and I abandoned the stripe pattern because I have about eight skeins I plan to pull yarn from rather than the pattern’s four.  But the basics and the shape remain the same.

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I’ve changed the yarn line up since taking this photo, taking out the red and adding in a medium purple.

img_7644Lots of winding yarn into cakes.  I’m a bit dubious about my gauge,  but I’m really liking the colors together.  Wrangling all those yarn cakes and balls takes some effort.  I’m carrying the extra yarn up the sides, occasionally breaking yarn when the distance gets too wide.  The plan is to hide all the ends and carries in the I-cord edging.  Fingers are crossed that works.

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