I think I have a thing for beige

Radio silence. Wow. I really need to catch you guys up. Don’t worry, I’ve been knitting every day (of course). I’ve got a couple of projects on the go at the moment.

First a recap of what I was (and still am but taking a quick commercial break from) working on.

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Almost done with the left (or is it right?) front side of the Arpeggio Cardigan. It’s so soft and the big needles matched with the fine yarn makes it very airy.

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For MFS I am over the halfway point (finally) on the front side. This would go a lot quicker if I would spend some time with it adding it on, but c’est la vie. I haven’t given up on it and I add the occasional row or two when I’m thinking of it. Sometimes I splurge and add a whole ball at a time.

I also frogged out those Christmas socks from months ago.

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Remember these ones?

Well they became this.

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Which became this. Yarn Harlot’s Earl Grey

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A more simple sock, but done on double points because I’ve decided that until I have (and probably even then) a chia goo or addi circ to do socks two up, I’m still a fan of my double points (even if they do tend to attack me on occasion).

Also this!

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So much beige. I’ve been alternating between the two socks for interest and when one of them is being an ass. This one is called Petty Harbor.

And that’s that. I have a scarf in mind to work on once this pair of socks is done and I’m going to reknit the feet and toes of a pair of socks that my boyfriend has worn holes through the soles of. I have a whole extra ball of the color and it’ll give him three pairs in his rotation once they’re patched up (sure I could darn them, but they’ll last longer this way).

I’m sort of craving some lace though.

Dumb thumbs

I’m back! There wasn’t much to report on the mittens that seemed to last forever. Both bodies are done though.

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I’ve finally decided to steam block them first, then wet block if need be. I’ve got a nice iron for this purpose.

The mittens are…stalled. Sort of?

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I’m working on the thumbs, and I’m just continuing the patterning, but it’s really a giant pain in my rear. I have to continue the pattern up the front of thumb, and down the back. So I have to basically follow the chart up one way (and it starts on the oddest part of the chart) then follow it down the next, so I’m having serious issues keeping track of my place. So I’ve stopped carrying the mittens around in my bag. They are getting done a few rows at a time. The thumbs are small and shouldn’t really take this long, but I’m stalling and really ready to be done with these mittens. Next pair I’m doing stripy palms…. No charts necessary.

In protest I’ve started on my sweater.

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217 cast on, down to 211 after the set up rows. I may or may not have threatened to stab someone with my needles while counting. I think you can’t hold what I do while counting against me after I’m done. I’m using this as my in class knitting and my at home knitting. The Harry Potter audiobooks are my backdrop while keeping an eye on the lacy charts.

I’m still making progress (sort of) on MFS. I’m still carrying it around with me at any rate, so it makes me feel slightly better about it. At least it’s not collecting dust in my yarn bin. One of my skeins (started on pre-ball winder I justify) sort of exploded into a big tangly blob in my purse. That was a major stopper in my progress, but I spend about three hours of my time untangling the mass and getting it in a center pull ball.

Thinking about it, I wonder how I’ve ever lived without a ball winder before this. My life was an empty shell.

Lastly, I have acquired two more balls of Paton’s worsted (a gift this time, I’m not gambling away my rent and bill money for yarn, I promise!) and I think I may have enough to do a nice colorwork hat. A hat sounds nice. Hats don’t have thumbs.

Cannibal

No mitten pictures today, although I will say that I have started the second mitten. I’m on the second set of braids out of the total four. After that it’ll just be colorwork which seems to fly by in comparison to the braids.

But I did peruse my local Goodwill. I was originally only there to buy a set of bowls. I did find those, but I also found a nice iron with an adjustable steam setting. This will work nicely for blocking.

I also found this sweater.

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There was a hole between the neckband and the body of the sweater. I, being the good citizen I am, thought to myself that no one would want to buy this sweater for wearing with a hole in it.

I will preface this by saying that I check the Goodwill occasionally for yarn, but all of my findings thus far have been either A) acrylic or B) ungodly awful colors. Not to mention the wool I have found prior to this was not very soft. This sweater on the other hand was made from very soft 100% lambswool. I couldn’t pass it up. Not for $4.00. You can hardly buy a single skein of wool for that price, let alone enough for a man’s medium sweater. My compliments to the Gap.

The yarn was then assimilated with help of a sharp little pair of scissors and my ballwinder.

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The yarn that the sweater was made from is a 2ply, and from what I can tell, since it’s clocking in at about 13WPI, a DK weight yarn. It’s a beautiful brown and while I did have to sacrifice some yardage, I can easily see this being more than enough for a women’s or child’s sweater of my choosing. It’s certainly enough for a hat/mitten set. I haven’t decided its fate yet, but for $4 I am more than happy to find out.

First mitten down, second mitten?

So, other than the thumb, I’ve finished the first mitten (which I suppose means it’s not really finished). But I haven’t decided what I’d like to do with it just yet, so I’m waiting until I have them both done to really contemplate it. I could do a solid black thumb, a thumb in pattern or a thumb with just an alternating black and light grey pattern. All are solid options.

Without further ado, the first of two Latvian mittens (with a little Scottish flair thrown in)

I’m doing a peasant thumb, but I just knit in a contrast that I’ll pull out and pick up the stitches later. The book told me to cast on fifteen, but I thought this would a lot less fuss (I wasn’t wrong either).

The obligatory inside photo of the floats

This is my first successful foray into the realms of colorwork. All previous attempts have hit the frog pond (among them an Alice Starmore. I know, high expectations). I’m really pleased with these though. I think the nylon certainly helps, as well as actually performing the technique correctly. There’s minimal (if any) puckering, and I think any unevenness should block right out. I think I’ve decided on wet blocking for the moment.

Also, this lovely came in the mail, along with 11 others just like it.

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It’s very soft, and I’m excited to start on the sweater finally. I’m also the first to start the project on Ravelry, so I feel like I’m a pioneer. I am still working of MFS, but this will be dubbed MSS.

I’m going to do a couple of swatches on US5 and US6 needles, block them out and see what happens. And with that it ends (for now) my recent acquisitions.

Needles, don’t fail me now

Finally, the weekend has arrived. I finally have some time to relax and get back to my knitting. My last semester has started here, so it leaves me slightly less time to knit. But apparently that hasn’t discouraged my optimism since I ordered more than enough yarn during the break.

First off, an update on the Latvian mittens (or mitten at this stage)

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No blocking yet, but I think for being unblocked the colorwork is actually pretty even. To be fair, I didn’t really like the patterns on the original, so substituted the bottom portion of the  two chart for a chart from Sheila McGregor’s “Traditional Fair Isle Knitting”. The top portion will be the same, excepting the palm. I used a seed stitch pattern for that which hasn’t quite worked up far enough to show you the pattern.

I’m really digging on those braids. Also, given that I finally learned how to knit continental style, I think my gauge is much better on this pair of mitts. Before when I’ve attempted color work I’ve done some weird bastard version of continental and english where I held the working yarn in my left hand but sort of picked the yarn into place with my right index finger. Real continental, I’m happy to discover, is actually far less complex than my previous method. Which means that this mitten is flying off my needles, and the colorwork does not look like a steaming pile of crap. That’s always been what’s put me off doing any serious colorwork in the past. I would knit it, it would have no relation whatsoever to the size of a human being, and I would let it sit in my stash box, thinking about what it had done. This time around I sat myself down with a nice tutorial and spent an hour with some stash yarn perfecting my continental style. According to the pattern, it is supposed to be 4 inches across the back, and I’m getting that gauge, but I’m not going to be cocky just yet. I may give these to my mother if they continue to be in relation to the size of a female hand.

Does anyone have any tips on blocking stranded knitting? I think I’m going to wet block it and put it on some foamcore, but if anyone objects to this, speak now, before I go and buy the materials. I can arrange a steam block if necessary.

Onto the next item of business, I have received my Knitpicks in the mail! Just some WOTA in sport weight. But I’ll see if anyone can guess the project I’ve got this all slated for. Hint, I’m missing one color still.

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Mittens, Mittens, Who’s got mittens?

I think I’m on a  mitten spree. Or something.

For starters, I cast on these bad boys. A second pair of thrums.

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I’m using more Shepherd’s Wool, and this time I bought 40z  of Malabrigo roving. It’s deliciously squishy and makes me wish I could spin (don’t tempt me, or I might actually get a drop spindle).

I was knitting away at these, minding my own business, when out of nowhere (*cough*bookstore *cough*), this magazine just landed in my little hands.

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So, here I am perusing it, thinking, to myself things like “oh, nice” and “that’s ok, but not my taste” when all of a sudden I open it to this page.

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Quite literally, the first words out of my mouth were “Oh my god”. That was a telling moment. I needed this sweater. I needed this sweater like a man in the desert needs water. I couldn’t help myself. My debit card just sort of hopped out of my wallet and went on a shopping spree on Webs, Knitpicks, and Amazon. I was almost ashamed until this came in the mail.

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Now I am held in the thrall of the Latvian Mittens, like so many before me. This book is a wealth of patterns. I just want to make all of the mittens. Or at least one mitten of each.

But for now I’m starting off with the Latgale pattern.

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And to conclude, if anyone is wondering, I’ve also been working slowly away on MFS 2.0. It’s almost halfway done with the front/back/thing

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Destiny

The shawl has met its destiny. A bit early, but to be fair, I thought it would take quite a bit longer than it did. I held it aloft and had no idea how I would be able to just hide this pretty thing away for the five months until Mother’s Day. And then I promptly gave up that notion and just gave it to my boyfriend’s mom so I could show off. And here it is, to show off to all of you.

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn: Crystal Palace Allegro Lace (3 ply light fingering)
Amount Used: 1.5-ish skeins. I haven’t measured the remaining ball to see how much I used, the amount is more than 225 yards, but less than 450.
Needles used: US4 (3.5mm)

This shawl was a very quick knit. I really enjoyed the pattern, and it was just challenging enough for me.

This was also my first time (gasp) blocking a knitted item. I know that I should have been doing it all along, but this is the first time it was mandatory.

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Here it is, hanging out in my sink, taking a bath. I used a packet of scentless Soak. I made absolute sure there was no toothpaste or cleaning chemical residue on the walls of the sink or the plug before proceeding with the shawl. I just kind of poked it around a bit until it was all under the water, then well and left it alone for about 20 minutes or so.

I then took it from the water, gently squeezed out some water so it wasn’t dripping like a creature from the lagoon, and placed it on a clean towel

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This was then promptly followed by rolling it up and then stepping on it like some sort of over priced massage.

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And then the pinning. Oh, lord, the pinning. I admit, I am a novice and it took me a bit to get the hang of it all. Therefore, if a few of the pins aren’t quite straight, I blame it on inexperience. I laid the wet shawl on my bed, and straightened it out, stretching the top edge slightly. I threaded the waste yarn through the eyelets, since I don’t own blocking wires. Then I pinned the bottom point and start the painstaking process of pinning out the scallops. Granted, this shawl doesn’t exactly have that many points compared to some beautiful designs I’ve seen, but for a novice it was a process. I let my fan blow on the shawl to dry it a little faster, and all in all it only took 4.5 hours to be completely dry.

Behold.

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It’s a thing of beauty. My very first top down shawl. The bath and the pinning made this just so so soft. It is transformed before my eyes, and I’m amazed comparing it to what came off my needles. I’ve also voiced this opinion quite often to my boyfriend, whilst waving said shawl in his face, and then telling him to feel/look at/hold it.

My boyfriend’s mom really liked it, and I’m glad. This was a really great introductory piece to the wonders of lace knitting, and with how awesome the gratification on this piece was, it’s easy to see that she’ll have another one for Mother’s Day.

 

Like a cheesecloth

Just a quickie today to show you what’s finally off the needles now.

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It looks like…well, it really doesn’t look very impressive yet. But this is just the before shot. We’ll get a real glamour shot when I block it. Alas, it’s a bit late in the day for that, and I don’t particularly fancy sleeping on a damp bed (as that’s the only room I have for blocking this beauty). But I have the wool wash and the pins and I’m raring to go. The shawl will have its day.

I’ll do a full and proper FO report once the blocking is done and we get some good modeled pictures. Funnily enough, this was supposed to be a Mother’s Day present (and it still is, don’t misunderstand me), but I just thought that I’d have to start it now if I ever wanted to finish it by then. I really miscalculated how entertaining the lace would be, how quickly I could finish it, and how the shawl pattern wasn’t as complex as I imagined. It was a very good starter shawl with just enough challenge to keep it interesting, but enough ease so I didn’t have to rip, scream, and throw it in the corner.

It rhymes with “Soup”

I’m making good progress on the shawl.

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The second chart is completely finished. It was a bit of a slog towards the end, I admit, but now I’m onto other charts that only need repeating once. I think it’s going to block out really nicely.

On this leg of the shawl I’m trying my hand at nupps, which are in fact pronounced like soup, not like supper. It’s…interesting. From everything I’ve read and the tutorials I’ve watched on YouTube, I think I have the hang of them. I’ve been extremely careful to make them loose, and when I think they’re loose enough I make them just a tad looser. This, I believe is making them much easier when I purl them together later on.

They’re so cute. I got comments as I was knitting on it earlier to the effect of “How do you do that? I wouldn’t have the patience” (there were also comments calling my craft crochet, but that’s a rant for another time. Needless to say, the non knitters in question were gently corrected). I don’t think people really understand WHY we knit. The reasons are varied, but I can only suppose that non-knitters think that we just sit in rocking chairs, eschewing all company and other forms of entertainment for our knitting. For me, it’s because I don’t have patience that I knit, I think. If I have to wait, I find waiting much more pleasant if I have something to occupy myself with, therefore, knitting. I suppose I could ask these same people how they have the patience to play a video game to completion, how they manage to get through long car trips, or how they have the patience to read lengthy novels.

In other news, as my current location was near, I made another trip to the yarn store.

Ta-da!

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I have a thing for neutrals, me thinks.

The lace weight was a previous acquisition, but it hadn’t been shown off yet, so here it is. A nice baby alpaca 2 ply laceweight. I also got more Shepherd’s Wool, this time in off white and a big chunk of roving. They didn’t have any color combinations I liked in the small 1 oz bags, so I said fuck it (if you’ll pardon the expression), and just bought a 40z braid suited for spinning. It’s a nice hand dyed merino, and I love the different purples. It will make many nice thrummed items I am sure. I picked it because my boyfriend’s mom really liked my blue thrummed mittens and I figured I didn’t want her to steal them, so I’ll make her her own pair. I also, on perusal of the clearance section, found some lovely, soft chunky baby alpaca yarn from Cascade. It’s only just the one skein, and only 108 yards at that, but I felt like could give it a suitable home. It’s so soft and pretty, how could I tell it no? Not really enough for mittens in a chunky weight, possibly enough for a hat, but I think it will make me a very nice thick headband.

I might also add that this is the same yarn store that I acquired the Crystal Palace Allegro Lace, and heard them discussing how one of their employees had put a certain yarn with the lace weights when it was really a light fingering (which I have since surmised), and how just because it says “lace” on the label, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a laceweight. I intimated how I had purchased said yarn here, and they replied “See, the very same! A customer has already had a problem!” Not necessarily a problem, but at least the weight explains why I was only getting 225 yards per skein of the so called “lace” yarn. Just my luck to pick the only misplaced yarn in the store.

Startitis

I told you all it was here, didn’t I? Sure enough, as soon as Christmas was done and the socks were distributed (disregarding that the boyfriend’s socks are still on the needles), I started a slew of new projects. It started innocently enough, just a quick pair of mittens, I told myself. Then I figured I had better get started on those pillows. And of course how could I forget the sweater languishing in my bag? And now this.

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I wonder if anyone can place it.

It’s my first real piece of lace work. I’ve done odds and ends, a motif here or a dishcloth there, but this is my first honest to goodness lace project. I’ve compared it to the newly acquired 2ply laceweight in alpaca, and this merino seems to be a little on the heavy side for lace. Maybe a light fingering weight. It says it’s a lace yarn, so what do I know. It would explain how little yardage there is compare to weight, however.

I think I’ve been itching for a good long project, and this is really scratching the itch. It’s nice, difficult enough to need a chart, but easy enough to follow. Not too complex for the first time lace knitter, but enough of a challenge to keep me interested and satisfied with what’s coming off the needles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still charmed by the sweater, and I’ve been working a row here and a row there on it, but this is really just enchanting. I’ve been listening to “Jane Eyre” (a personal favorite of mine) on audiobook so I have some background noise to occupy me without having to constantly look between the screen and my chart.

This is going to be a nice shawl for my boyfriend’s mom for Mother’s Day this year. At the pace it’s going it’s really working up quite quickly, but I know that could change at any second as I keep adding more and more stitches.

I’m also pleased to announce the addition to my tool kit of these puppies.

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Finally, my own ball winder and swift. Granted, the swift is sort of cheaply made and I’m sure I’ll upgrade it eventually, but at least it’s mine. No more volunteering someone unwillingly to hold my yarn or draping it around my knees and hoping that it doesn’t fall and become tangled. The ball winder is sort of standard issue, so no problems there. Now just to find a suitable set up for the pair in my apartment.