I’ve been busy.
Also, I just discovered Fotor, a free photo online photo editor that you might see cropping up in future posts. Look, it makes collages go!
And dear bob there is so much to catch up on under the jump. SO MUCH.
At a family dinner last night, I was reminded that I never updated about my Bundle-Up Bear Brigade post Christmas! Shocking!
By the time I finally put away my bear bag (yes, I had a bag I carried around all month containing every relevant scrap I could collect as well as the pertinent needles & notions), I had knit 8 bears. Sadly, since 6 of them went to other homes over the festive season, I don’t have a photo of them all together, but I think I’ve got pictures of all but the very last one (who I just discovered at the bottom of a project bag, finished except for her blank little face). First up, here’s a picture comparing the regular and mini sizes (regular size bear went home with a friend’s toddler because babies deserve bears; yellow Noro suit belongs to the unfinished last bear). I might be biased, but I rather prefer the teeny ones!
Now I want you to notice in the following pictures the amazing crispness, clarity, and colour. One of the awesome things about giving away the bears to various family members was that my mother-in-law was usually around, with her DSLR camera, and she was kind enough to let me use it. I have hemmed and hawed for a long time about getting a DSLR – I know that part of the appeal is that I imagine I can make up for my artistic shortcomings with a fancier machine, and as such I’ve pushed myself to be content with my point-and-shoot and improve my skills instead. But the pictures are just so much better. So after I purchase the sweater quantity of Everything Old yarn I’m currently saving for, I’ll be starting a new camera fund, because – look!
*Wistful sigh* …and now back to your regularly scheduled point-and-shoot update, under the jump.
Now that I’ve got my computer back up and running, and the Universal Toque pattern tested and posted, it’s time to revisit my FOs, WIPs, and wistfully, the frog pond as they’ve been in the last six weeks.
First up, here’s my current love affair: Stephen West’s Spectra, knit from Little Red Bicycle worsted (grey; purchased at Knit City, and sadly I think in-person sales are currently the only way to buy this awesome yarn) and my early handspun, in Hydrangea BFL/silk gradient-dyed fibre from Everything Old!
More (pics, projects, pontification) under the jump.
MUST KNIT, NO TIME TO BLOG!
1. V-Junkie socks for G. The same spiral pooling that was annoying me in the Mince Pie Mayhem pattern is working amazingly with the slipped stitches in V-Junkie. There’s no way I’ll get these done by Christmas, though – just finishing the toe on #1 right now, though, so I’ll wrap that to put under the tree.
2. More Christmas decor! Bundle-up Bears from Mochimochi Land and the beginnings of a jingling garland of bells. As always, the Mochimochi Land pattern is unbelievably adorable, and of course well written; I’ve knit 4 so far and hope to do a couple more before winter’s end, including one in the specified yarn weight (as usual, I saw a cute thing and had to make it smaller, using sock yarn instead of worsted weight). Two of the bears (centre & right) were knit while visiting family, and they stayed with G’s twin cousins (age 8); the white bear has now joined my MIL’s collection of festive Barrista Bears!
I have knit 2 jingle bells so far – it’s a long-term project, knitting a few every year out of my recent sock yarn scraps. My eventual plan is to make a vertical hanging strand, along the lines of a rain chain.
3. Train Toque for The Nannee. I knit this while away from home as well, so I’m not sure if the pattern is actually really large or if my gauge was off. Either way, I ended up decreasing the number of stitches I cast on by about 15% and I still think the toque will be quite roomy for this particular little man. Instead of repeating the 3 cars in the pattern (engine, car, and caboose), I made a longer train (engine, 3 cars, and caboose). I also added earflaps ’cause his folks are from the Prairies and they are concerned about cold extremities. Hope they are well-positioned – I decided to wing it, but they look approximately right.
4. Carol Service Cowl. Left over beads! Left over yarn (from my Angelus shawl)! An awesome cowl pattern that’s been sitting in my library for a little while! Do you think I can get it done in time to wear it before Christmas? I don’t know! But I’m sure going to try!
Okay, enough blogging, back to knitting!
The winter solstice is still almost a month away, but oh man it gets dark early already. By the time I get home from work at 5, it’s full dark, and really, if I want useful light for photography on these mostly overcast days, it’s got to be before 3. All of which is to say that I’ve been taking some terrible flash photos of my latest misadventures and they’re awful but they’ll have to do.
First up, the socks that aren’t. Not any more. I frogged them.
The pattern was Mince Pie Mayhem from Socktopus by Alice Yu. It’s a cool pattern and I look forward to knitting it down the road, probably on a size larger needles than those I got gauge with (2.25mm), definitely when there’s no deadline involved. The stitch pattern has cable crossings every second pair of stitches on every second row and there was just no way I could envision myself finishing them in time to give them to Mr. Salamander for Christmas, plus I was not happy with the way the yarn was spiral pooling. So I ripped them out and started again with a different pattern (which is turning out well enough to deserve Saturday afternoon light, no pics yet).
And then an uninspired doll shirt.
I think this is the third time I’ve tried to knit a distressed-look doll sweater, and every attempt has either languished on stitch holders or been frogged into oblivion. I think it’s the drape – or lack thereof – at this scale that causes my dropped-stitch sweaters to look dumb instead of badass like their human-scale counterparts. Drape is definitely an issue with this handspun I was using (singles from the Tour de Fleece), and I was also really disappointed with how not handspun it looks. I was trying to spin thick and thin, why didn’t it come out that way?!? So that’s frogged as well, and the yarn is in time out.
I do have one flash photography success story, though, but I’ll put it under a cut for anyone who’s not ready to see *gulp* Christmas-themed decor yet…!
OMG DEARLI IS DONE. Now that it’s November, I’ve finally finished my summer sweater, aw yeah!
It took over a week to block that ruffle. Now I never want to wash the thing for fear of having to block it again (I am pretty sure I could get it down to about 5 days now that I understand it’s imperative to block a section upon waking and before bed, not just once per day). But I’m sure it will happen because, as I suspected, I LOVE THIS CARDIGAN.
I went for a modern/urban and yet Mori-girl inspired look today. I’d really love to super-Mori-style this with a big fluffy hat, a pair of loose leggings over the tights, and maybe a long scarf…but these were the pieces I actually own. Seriously thinking about knitting a hat, though. Like, now.
All my hard work shaping and re-shaping the body paid off. The shoulders aren’t quite perfect (although some of that awkward pooch is from blocking and should fade after a couple wearings), but can I just say how much I dig the turned cuffs? I love how smooth and simple they are, providing a super-subtle contrast to the excitement of the ruffle. They’re also really comfy!
And check out the cute purse I got for $2! It’s pretty small (I usually go for big sack purses), but so cute, and just right for this outfit. Only problem is, I can barely stuff my next knitting project inside it and still have room for wallet & phone! What’s the next project? Oh, you know, just yet another sweater…!
When it grows up, it’s going to be a sweater I heard about from the gals over at the Just One More Row Podcast: Wanda Nell, a cardigan with such small yardage it can be knit from about 300g of fingering weight yarn – perfect for 2-3 skeins of indie-dyed sock yarn you might have impulse bought without thinking what you would use them for! I actually bought this yarn specifically for the cardi when I was at Knit City; it’s Sweet Georgia Tough Love, and I am totally loving the subtle tonal variation, as well as the incredibly funky mix of grey and pink. Hey, maybe I can do this colour pairing thing after all! Since it’s a top-down seamless raglan, it feels like it’s clipping along quite nicely right now, though it will slow down by the time I get to the main body.
I’ve also been getting to know Tamar (my wheel), spinning away at the alpaca I picked up at Fibrations. Here’s about 2.5 oz of mixed natural-coloured alpaca, spun up “que sera sera” style to approximately fingering weight 2-ply. It really turned out quite even considering how little I was trying to spin it accurately – I am starting to get the hang of this wheel thing! I have one more “practice” bump of fibre to spin, and then I think I will be ready to spin something I really care about (I totally agree that life is to short to spin crummy fibre just because you’re learning, but I also believe there’s value in learning on middle-of-the-road stuff and saving your totally dreamy indie-dyer batts from heaven until you have a modicum of skill)!
It’s soft and floofy as alpaca ought to be, but it does have a little vegetable matter still stuck in, despite my best efforts to remove it. I am thinking it will either be a hat (see above post re: Mori girl style) or perhaps a möbius cowl. I only have a little under 300 yards, though, so although I was dreaming of being able to do both, I think I’ll have to choose just one. Time to start pattern diving! Any favourite hat patterns out there, especially for gals with bangs they don’t like to compress?
P.S. I totally found the white balance setting on my camera! I feel like a total doofus that it took me almost 2 years, but holy crow did that make a difference in how accurately I was able to photograph colours! Live and learn, eh? Maybe now I’ll be able to take indoor photos and have them look decent too, who even knows?!?
It took a lot of ripping and a lot of knitting, but I got Dearli looking the way I wanted it to! Here’s how much yarn I took out of each front:
And here’s how the sweater is looking right now:
This is seriously the best fitting sweater I have ever owned, and it’s not even sewn together yet (notice how my black t-shirt showing on the right makes my arm look disembodied?)! Yesterday was a day of epic busy-ness: I finished knitting the sweater. I went grocery shopping. I photographed the sweater. I put ONE MILLION LOCAL SQUASHES in the oven (okay, it was one pie pumpkin and 1.5 kabocha squashes but still, the oven was full). Meanwhile, Killira decided that actually it was her sweater:
I washed the sweater. I made delicious pumpkin pie filling (for Thanksgiving, you know). I blocked the sweater. I made amazing squash soup. I washed ALL THE DISHES (I think I broke the hot water heater). Then I collapsed on the couch.
Now I’m still waiting for the darn thing to dry so I can sew it up and see if I can knit the ruffle while wearing it. I know once I put this one on for real I will never want to take it off. But why does wool have to take so long to dry?!?
Oh, and the pie was delicious! My grandma confessed that in all her 71 years, she’s never had a pumpkin pie that didn’t come out of a can…so thankful for the opportunity to share the yumminess! I also used the leftover pastry to make pumpkin tarts to share with my friends over the next few days so we can all enjoy the local squashly bounty.