Leftovers

fullsizeoutput_1ce1

This scarf, like this post, is made of leftovers. My previous catchup posts had at least vague themes, and this one’s theme is “everything else.” In fact it won’t quite catch us up to the present, because there’s only so much I feel like I can cram into a single post, but it’ll get us pretty darn close.

What you see here is a linen-stitch scarf made from literal leftovers — scraps of yarn from various other things I’ve made over the years. Unlike some other things that I “saved for the blog” and didn’t wear until I could photograph them, this thing has gotten a lot of use and even been washed a few times — I love it to pieces!

fullsizeoutput_1ce2

You may also notice that I’m in — gasp! — a new location in these pictures. Pat and I spent a weekend in Idyllwild to celebrate our anniversary, and I brought all these pieces up there to photograph them. However, the other three pieces are all brownish-grayish, and I totally neglected to bring any outfits that would go with them, so this is the only one that we actually photographed up in the woods.

For the rest of them, it’s our beautiful driveway yet again! And sorry to fans of my (very faded) purple hair, but it’s gone now; I have to start being a stern 9th grade teacher again next week:

fullsizeoutput_1ce8

This scarf is also (half) made out of leftovers. The gray is leftover merino/yak/silk yarn that I spun for my Starshower Cowl, and the gradient yarn is the merino/silk handspun that I talk about making here. The pattern is just a simple two-row stripe & one-column rib, made famous by Jared Flood. This is one of those times that I wish you could reach through your screen, because this scarf is SO soft and lovely that you would not believe it.

Next up is an unbelievably large shawl whose knitting took up most of this past fall:

fullsizeoutput_1ce3

No lie, this thing like like 9 feet from end to end. This is Sunwalker by Melanie Berg. The yarn is Sundara fingering merino, in the “Seaside Storm” colorway. This took most of two skeins, which I did in fact alternate to make sure the color stayed relatively even. It’s a pretty gorgeous autumn-y blend of browns and grays up close:

fullsizeoutput_1ce4

Lastly, a project in a mystery yarn:

fullsizeoutput_1ce6

The pattern is Lintilla by Martina Behm, and I love how everyday-wearable it is. The yarn label, though, is lost to history. But look how pretty it is!

IMG_5308

Here’s what I know about it: 1) I bought it at an LYS in Seattle. 2) It’s not a major nationwide brand that I’d heard of anyplace else. 3) It’s a springy two-ply merino sock yarn, not unlike Koigu. 4) I’d swear that the colorway was called something like “copper penny” or “bad penny.” I distinctly remember thinking that was a weird thing to call it, as it’s only sort of copper. I’ve done a lot of googling and am really coming up short here. Does anyone out there have any leads?

Blanketed In Love

fullsizeoutput_1bd1

So my brother got married early in 2015, and I spent most of that year knitting this blanket, which I presented to him & his wife at Christmas of that year as their belated wedding present. I’d known I wanted to knit them a blanket, but I didn’t pick out the pattern until about a month before their wedding, and as you can imagine, this thing was a huge amount of work! For their actual wedding, they got a card from me and a picture of the yarn with an “under construction” label. Here’s the whole finished object:

fullsizeoutput_1bd2

The pattern is Hue Shift Afghan by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence; it’s a KnitPicks pattern. I knit it in KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Sport, and I followed the “Rainbow Version” color suggestions, though I had to substitute a few of the recommended colorways because they were out of stock. I also followed Mariangello’s directions to increase the size of the blanket to fit a queen-sized bed. (If you do this, be sure to buy more yarn than KnitPicks suggests, of course!) It still came out a little small for a queen-sized bed, though; here it is being just about adequate for a full-sized one:

fullsizeoutput_1bd3

I loved this thing so much that it was reeeeeaaaallly hard to give up, and I just might make another one for us to keep one of these days! One thing that’s cool about knitting it is that you do it in pieces, so it never suffers from that huge-blanket problem where you have to keep the whole thing in your lap at once while you’re working on it. You make the squares in strips, and these add up to 4 separate large squares which you eventually have to seam together:

fullsizeoutput_1bd4

That’s the only seaming you have to do, though. After this, you pick up stitches at the edges to do the border. As you can see, there are eleventy-billion ends to weave in when you’re done. You can carry one color up per column, but each square generates two new ends to weave in for the other color. 😦

I over-purchased the yarn because I was terrified of running out, and I ended up with about a ball and a half left of each color. So I made a baby blanket for my friends Jackie and Robin! (Jackie made my wedding dress, as you will recall from my last post.)

fullsizeoutput_1bd6

I’m pretty proud of this, because I made up the pattern myself, using math to figure out how to get the most out of my remaining yarn. It’s knit in strips, and I attached each strip to the next one as I went by picking up an edge stitch from the previous strip to avoid having to do seaming later. Totally seamless, baby!

Here it is with my body & bookshelves for scale:

fullsizeoutput_1bd7

I deliberately made it pretty big for a “baby” blanket, because it’s totally not machine washable, so I figured the parents might not want to actually give it to their kid until she’s old enough to keep her bodily fluids inside her body where they belong. Also I wanted to use up all of that dang yarn!

Since I have so very much ground to cover in order to get caught up, I’m going to share with you one more blanket that I’ve made while I’ve been gone. This is a much smaller baby blanket, knit in machine-washable yarn:

fullsizeoutput_1bd5

I knit this for my friends Tia and Reid in freeform log-cabin style, a blanket-construction method I fell in love with a few years ago, when… holy smokes, it turns out I never shared the finished object from this project with you, either! Okay, I’ll show you that in just a minute! Anyway, the above blanket was knit in Berroco Comfort held double on huge needles, to create a very thick and squishy blanket that could also work as a playmat for “tummy-time,” something that I gather babies are into. (I am very childless, as you may have figured out by now.)

One more blanket, then! As the link in the above paragraph explains, in mid-2013 I inherited some vintage 1970s yarn from my mom’s basement, and I started a freeform log cabin project with it since I wasn’t really sure how much yarn I actually had. Here’s the finished product, which I must have completed sometime in 2014:

fullsizeoutput_1bda

It’s got some creases in it from being folded up on our couch; this is very much a workhorse blanket that keeps me warm when we’re watching TV in the winter. Look how handsomely it goes with our new turquoise sofa!

fullsizeoutput_1bdb

I knit those pillows on the sides, too, natch. #allkniteverything

Gaea’s Wrap

IMG_5927Hello, and sorry for the long absence! Work got crazy for a couple of months there, but now I have the summer off and I can catch up on posting my backlog of projects! What you see here is a freeform wrap that I knit for my friend Gaea for her wedding in April. Gaea is very much a free spirit, and it came to me in a flash about a month before the wedding that (a) I ought to knit something for her, and (b) it ought to be something out of my brain and heart and intuition rather than something from a pattern. So I went to my stash and pulled out all the greens and blues, since those are the colors that come to mind when I think of her:

IMG_5857Not quite all of these made the cut — sorry, lime-green Fun Fur — but most of them ended up in there somewhere. I cast on an unholy number of stitches — north of 300, I’m pretty sure — and went to town. The wrap is mostly garter stitch, seed stitch, bird’s-eye lace, and shell stitch (or whatever that wavy drop-stitch thing is called — I don’t have my stitch dictionary in front of me). The result was a ginormous wrap that I loved to pieces and managed to remember to model before wrapping it up for gift-giving:

IMG_5941SO HUGE. SO AWESOME.

And here it is in another configuration with me looking a little drunk, which it’s entirely possible that I was:

IMG_5938That dress is the one I wore to the wedding, by the way. It was a fantastically freaky potluck Burning Man wedding at a park in San Francisco. So much fun!

Over the next few days / weeks I’ll fill you in on what else I’ve been knitting since February — stay tuned!

Vintage/Modern

IMG_20130713_0004

My parents are cleaning out their house in vague preparations to downsize and move sometime in the next year or two, and one of the things my mother unearthed was this great 1975 pattern book for Brunswick yarn, along with an unfinished crochet afghan she’d been making from this book in the 70s and a whole bunch of yarn that had been earmarked for the project. There are some great pictures in this thing! The top photo is my favorite; it’s from the back cover.

Here’s the front cover. I guess it’s the same model, but it’s not quite as amusing as her sassy cigarette pose:

IMG_20130713_0006

Upon reflection, though, very little about this picture makes sense. “Oh, it’s just little old me, in my glamorous makeup, wrapped up in this giant afghan, crouching on the ground outside.” Maybe she came over for a fancy barbecue (if that’s a thing) and drastically underdressed for the weather?

But the real prize for absurdity has to go to this shot:

_20130713_0001

My mom calls this a “James Bond girl shot,” and I think she’s onto something. “Dahlink, vhy don’t you step into the kitchen for a drink and some snuggles?” The pattern for that dress is in this book, too, and interestingly the only sizes for the clothing in this booklet are 12, 14, and 16 (with bust measurements of this dress coming in at 41″, 43″, and 45″). They probably intend for some positive ease, but I think that speaks volumes about how size standards have changed over the years. (And about how knitting patterns have become more user friendly, presented in a wider array of sizes!)

Here’s one more gem for you:

_20130713_0002

Oh yes, you can knit her all-yellow outfit if you choose!

I elected not to finish my mom’s crochet afghan, for several reasons. (1) I’m not much of a crocheter. Even though it was a simple shell pattern and would have been within my abilities, it would have been tough to work on in front of the TV, where is where I do 95% of my knitting. (2) She’d given up on it because her gauge had gotten wonky, so there would be some significant fixing I’d have to do. (3) There were eleventy billion ends to weave in already, and the thing wasn’t even half done. And (4) there was enough of her yarn leftover for me to just knit a blanket myself that would be both more fun for me to work on and more functional as an end product — shell stitch produces a fabric full of holes.

I decided to just freestyle a garter stitch blanket, in part because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to determine how much yarn I actually had, since the labels on this yarn list its weight in ounces but bizarrely not its yardage. After I’d embarked on this plan, though, I thought to look the yarn up on Ravelry and lo and behold, there it is despite its being long-discontinued: Brunswick Germantown. I have the older 4-ounce skeins, and I could have calculated my yardage and followed a pattern, but I’ve been having so darn much fun doing this that I see no reason to stop:

IMG_5642

I’m using the Mason-Dixon Moderne Baby Blanket as inspiration, but I’m not really following the pattern at all — just deciding for myself what colors will look best where. The main insight that pattern gave me was the idea of using intarsia to break up rows into multiple color blocks, which you can see that I’m doing on the top right now and already did on the right hand side. I’d never actually done intarsia before, but it turns out to be stupidly easy and basically exactly like fair-isle knitting except you don’t carry the strand along with you; you just knit in blocks and twist the strands at the color changes. I expect that the hardest things about it are following complicated patterns that call for it and keeping your tension even at the transition points, but here the “pattern” is dirt simple and the transitions are easily managed. I’m having so much fun with this thing that I’m finding it really tough to put down, despite the fact that it’s growing into a sizable wool blanket and it’s the middle of August! Of course, it’s also been a shockingly mild summer here in southern California, and the hottest months are probably ahead of us — September and October are usually the worst. So this blanket probably won’t be finished until the fall, but it’ll be a fun thing to pick up now and then until the cooler weather hits!

Linen-Stitch Cushions

IMG_5431_2

They’ve been a long time coming, but I finally finished these linen-stitch cushions! My friend Heather sent me this yarn last fall, and I’ve been working on these intermittently ever since. There’s no pattern; I just knit each of the two skeins of variegated yarn into a big square in linen stitch, using just about every inch of these two skeins. Then I switched to a smaller needle size (since linen stitch is really dense) and used some stash yarn in blue to knit identically-sized stockinette squares for the backs:

IMG_5434_2

Then I just sewed them together and stuffed them with polyfill! I initially had crazy plans to try to actually use these as covers for our existing tremendously-ugly pillows (not pictured), but I soon realized that would require more exactitude and pillow-experience than I actually had. Then I thought I might try to at least recycle the insides of those ugly pillows, but it turned out that those ugly pillows were all lumpy because they contained gross, lumpy stuffing. So those old pillows went into the trash (after I’d slashed them open to get at their insides, unfortunately rendering them unfit for donation), and now our couch is much more attractive!

I’m done with the button bands and collar for my Acer Cardigan, too! Now it’s just a matter of weaving in ends, blocking, and sewing on buttons. You’ll see that soon!

All this finishing, of course, means it’s time for some starting. Later today or tomorrow I’m going to cast on for a little two-person KAL I’m doing with my friend Lisa. Here’s the yarn, which is accidentally holiday-appropriate:

IMG_5437_2

It’s Cascade Heritage Sock in “Christmas Green.” Lisa and I are going to be knitting “Cusp” from Cookie A’s Knit. Sock. Love. book, and we decided to actually use the yarn that the pattern calls for since a 400-yard skein of it sells for only $11, and I like the idea of using a true solid to show off the lace pattern in the sock. Enjoy your St. Patty’s Day!

Pompa

I’ve finished my Pompa scarf and I’m thrilled with it! It’s perfect for spring, and the color is fabulous. Thanks, Julie, for that skein of Tosh Merino Light — it was the perfect match for this pattern!

My only modifications were to knit this much longer than the pattern specified (Anne Hanson’s scarves are always so short!) and to do my standard lace-bindoff so there’d be sufficient stretch for blocking. I just knit this until I felt like it was long enough, and when I weighed it I found to my amusement I’d used 100 grams — exactly what a current skein of Tosh Merino Light weighs, but this must have been one of the older skeins that had 440 yards instead of 420.

The earrings I’m wearing in the above pictures are my own creation — I remembered today that I haven’t blogged them (or the necklace that matches) yet. Here they are up close:

I bought the beads when Pat & I were in Portland in January, and I finally strung them a month or so ago.

I’ve also started knitting my Acer Cardigan, and I have something to show you that is going to blow your mind. Are you ready?

That, my friends, is a full-on, four-inch-square, washed and blocked gauge swatch. Possibly the first I’ve ever knit in my life. I do swatch, especially for sweaters, but I usually either knit a tiny two-inch swatch (which sometimes results in heartache), or, in the case of my Leaving cardigan, I knit a whole sleeve as a gauge swatch and then had to pull the whole thing out. This time I wasn’t taking any chances, and I also miraculously hit gauge on my first try as you can see here. So now I’m off to the races with the sweater itself:

So far, this sweater has been a lesson in hubris and, accordingly, in Advanced Fixing of Mistakes. The charts seemed complicated at first, but after a day or two of meticulously moving my handy pattern magnets through the chart, I realized that all the non-cabled rows are the same and started gliding along more quickly. BUT because there are two very similar charts (what you see here is actually two charts that mirror each other), I started making mistakes after the next cable row, doing things like working “k3” instead of “k2tog yo,” and I didn’t realize it until last night. So I had to do a LOT of multiple-row local fixes, turning whole columns of “k3” into whole columns of “k2tog yo” or  “yo ssk.” But I surprised myself by being able to do this passably on the fly, without consulting youtube! And now I know to pay close attention on the rows after the cable crosses.

My other new project is this simple side-to-side garter-stitch scarf that I’m knitting Pat for our anniversary:

Pat has never wanted me to knit him a scarf before, because we live in Southern California and he almost never feels like he needs one. But we went camping in the desert last weekend and I thought to throw in an extra scarf for him since it gets cold in the desert at night, and he was immensely grateful. So I’m knitting him this scarf out of the leftover yarn from the socks I knit for him and me this past winter. The colors remind me of dawn in the desert, which makes this a triply wonderful anniversary present.

That’s it for now, but tune in next time for Adventures in Steeking!

Blackberry Waffle Socks

My, what handsome socks! I finished these last night, and Pat was sad that I wouldn’t allow him to wear them to bed because I wanted to photograph them in their pristine condition this afternoon. But now he is happily wearing them in the living room while playing the new Spiderman videogame, which he was actually doing while I was taking this picture — I kind of had to climb into his lap.

Here they are sans feet:

The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh DK in the “Cosmos” colorway, which both of us love — the flecks of turquoise keep it interesting, but it’s still decidedly manly. The pattern is, nominally, the venerable old Blueberry Waffle Socks. But I knit them on much smaller needles (US 2s) to get a denser fabric, and I added some extra stitches to accommodate Pat’s wide feet, and I knit them using the magic loop method instead of with DPNs, and I completely changed the heel because the pattern didn’t make any sense to me as written, and I also altered the toe a bit. The end result is that I felt like a sock ninja by the time I was done with these — basically the only thing I took from the original pattern was the dirt-simple textured stitch, and the rest of their construction was designed on the fly to fit Pat’s feet and my sensibilities.

I have a surprising amount of yarn left over — equivalent to about 3/4 of a full skein. I might turn it into a little cowl, but I’m thinking seriously about just knitting another pair of these — in a smaller size, and a little shorter in the leg — for myself. I like the idea of the two of us snuggling up on the couch in matching handknit socks!