Deflect

IMG_5827I’m sorry — unlike knitting magazines, I can’t take my sock pictures on scenic outdoor rocks, so you’ll have to settle for my scenic indoor couch. I’d never let Pat go for a walk on the beach in his handknit socks, anyway! These are his Christmas socks, a little belatedly blogged. The pattern is Deflect by Hunter Hammersen, from Knitty’s Deep Fall 2013 issue. The yarn is Oink Pigments Sock in “Misplaced Marbles.” I got it at the Torrance Fiber Festival this year — I guess I never did a post about my haul, but it was quite small: just this, bought expressly for these socks, and a skein of gorgeous laceweight purple that you’ll see pretty soon when I make it into a spring lace project of some kind. I was on a mission to buy yarn for this pattern when I was there, and I bought this one because the color was good for ManSocks(TM), and because it felt and looked very similar to Dream in Color Everlasting Sock, which is what the pattern actually calls for. When I got it home and compared it to the skein of Everlasting Sock that I had at home, it was so identical that I think they might even actually be the same yarn base! Even the colorway was pretty similar, though I’d judged the skein I had as “too girly” — more on that later.

IMG_5826This yarn looks a little darker and bluer here than it actually is — in person it’s closer to photo #1, though that one’s a tiny bit washed out. I enjoyed knitting these socks, though I think I ran into a minor problem with the numbers on the heel in the large size. It’s been awhile, so I don’t remember the specifics, but it was just very clearly a mistake in the number of stitches that I should have ended up with or something. Easy to spot and ignore. I just love the way the cables are arranged in this sock! And the toe is gorgeous — I was a little skeptical as I was knitting it, since it seemed like the decreases were happening in unorthodox places, but it looked great when it was done and on the foot.

This is truly a unisex sock pattern, and since I had that skein of Everlasting Sock sitting around waiting for me to do something with it, I decided to make myself a pair also! I’m right about to start the toe on the first one here:

IMG_5842I suppose it’s a little hard to tell from this picture, but I judged this yarn to be “too girly” for Pat’s socks because of the green and purple. When I got his skein home, though, I felt pretty silly — the difference is quite minimal. Here they are side-by-side:

IMG_5846His looks a little more huge than it actually is/was because he’s been wearing his socks pretty frequently for the past month and a half so they’ve stretched out a bit, and you can see there’s some wear on the sole there. But the colors, they’re not so different. I’m pretending that I meant us to have matching socks all along…

Rainshine

IMG_5604 Knit from my own handspun yarn! This pattern is Rainshine by Boo Knits. I’ve had a couple of her lovely shawl designs in my queue for a few months now, but this is the first I’ve actually made. I don’t think I ever even showed you an in-progress shot of this, it knit up so fast! But I do like to include fiber-to-yarn shots in my posts about handspun items, so here’s the yarn when I was spinning it up: IMG_5245_2 Two ounces of a 50/50 merino/silk blend from the Sincere Sheep, purchased from the artisan herself at Vogue Knitting LA last fall. I spindle-spun 420 yards of laceweight yarn, and used a little more than 350 yards of it in this shawl.

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I did the extra rows for the “more dramatic” edging that the pattern offers as an option, but I didn’t use beads and I didn’t do the crochet bindoff, because without a bead to weigh down the middle of that 10-chain point, I thought it might lose its shape and become a loop instead of a point over time. Also, the crochet bindoff was going to be a huge pain in the ass.

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Overall, I’m very happy with this piece. I think it’s a good match of pattern to yarn; I wanted something for this lavender color that was going to be sort of wispy and ethereal, and this pattern fits the bill!

Here’s what else I have going:

IMG_5624This is actually much bigger now, but I didn’t feel like shooting it again — I thought I was going to make this post two weeks ago before I went on vacation, but it didn’t happen! This is the beginning of a Laminaria shawl that I’m knitting according to Xavi’s mods in order to leave out the star chart and start straight in with the blossom chart. I made one of these the regular way back in 2009, and I love it but it’s very big, very wooly, and very gray, so I don’t actually wear it all that often. The yarn I’m using this time is Serenity Silk + from Zen Yarn Garden and it’s lovely. The picture here makes it look both more uniform and more blue than it actually is — it’s really a shifting blue-green that I hope Pat & I can capture when we shoot the finished object!

I’ve also been working on a little summer cardigan of a type I’ve been needing for awhile:

IMG_5637And as you can see, I’ve made a lot of progress! (This came on vacation with me, too; also it’s just been a long time since I’ve written a post.) It’s an Emelie cardigan; the pattern is by Elin Berglund. The yarn, which I’m totally in love with, is Anne Hanson’s new Breakfast Blend Fingering in the “Oatmeal” colorway. I’d been needing a little cardigan in a neutral color to wear over pastels etc in the warm weather, and as soon as this yarn came out I knew it would be perfect. As great as it would have been to pair Anne’s yarn with one of her own patterns, I also knew that Emelie, with its cropped length option and its 3/4 sleeves and its lack of seaming, was the sweater I wanted to knit with it. And I can’t say enough good things about this yarn — it’s soft, but with a good firm hand that makes you have real confidence in the shape and longevity of the finished sweater.

I promise it won’t be such a long stretch between posts next time. I’ve actually just gotten started on an exciting “vintage” project with some yarn my mom found in her basement, but I’m going to wait until next time (when I’ve made a little more progress) to tell you about it!

Hooked

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I just received these lovely crochet hooks in the mail from Matt of According to Matt…, one of my favorite crochet and knitting blogs! Aren’t they lovely? They’re a European brand called KnitPro, which can be ordered from this UK-based store, among other places. He ran a contest a few weeks ago asking people to guess how many buttons were in a jar, and I happened to hit on the right number first. The story of how that happened is super dumb: I planned to enter my street address #471, as my guess, but I misremembered it as 417, and a commenter a few before me had already guessed that, so I guessed 419 instead and that turned out to be correct. Hooray, faulty brain wires! I highly recommend Matt’s blog; his projects are always super colorful and inspiring, and he’s always got a sunny attitude that makes his posts a pleasure to read. As you probably know, I’m much more of a knitter than a crocheter, but this is a wonderful excuse to spend some more time crocheting — previously I just had a bunch of cheapo metal and plastic hooks from Michael’s. I think what I’d really like to make is a super-stashbusting freeform crochet tote bag.

I am almost done re-knitting my Acer cardigan — check it out:

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I am now officially farther along with it than I got the first time, when I finished the body and one sleeve before deciding it was hopelessly too large. As you can see, I’m knitting the sleeves top-down this time, because the sleeves in the pattern came out weirdly large for me. Knitting them top-down allows me to try it on as I go and make them fit better. I’m super proud of myself for figuring out how to do this on my own, based on my notes from my Leitmotif Cardigan, which was written with top-down sleeves that I modified a bit to fit my short arms. I now feel confident that I can do top-down sleeves on any sweater I choose, which is pretty awesome! I should be done with this sleeve pretty soon, and then it’s just button bands, collar, and finishing!

I even bought some buttons today:

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I usually end up buying two sets of buttons for my sweaters, because I’m rarely 100% sure in the store what is going to look best on the sweater, even though I make sure to bring a sample of the yarn in with me. In this case, I’m glad I did — I very nearly came home with just the top set of buttons, but the bottom ones are now the clear winners in my mind. I do like the rustic simplicity of those top buttons, though, and I think I’ll probably keep them for the future rather than return them. This sweater should be done pretty soon — so keep your fingers crossed for me that we don’t start getting hit with the 80-degree southern California spring days just yet!

Hold This Thread As I Walk Away

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Once upon a time (last spring), I started knitting an Acer Cardigan in this lovely Tosh Vintage yarn. I knit the whole body and one of the sleeves:

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And it was a little bit too big for me. The sleeve (just pinned on in this pic) was WAY too big, but the body was okay — it’d be a little loose, but I was going to layer under it, right? By this point it was summer and Pat and I were leaving for Austin, so I decided to set it aside and redo the sleeves and other finishing work in the winter. Now it’s February, and I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was a year ago, and this sweater was WAY TOO GODDAMN BIG. And so:

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I’ve started alllll over again, knitting a smaller size. I’ll also probably just pick up stitches from the shoulder and knit the sleeves top-down to fit me, now that I’ve been burned once by the sleeves in this pattern. It’s a little frustrating, but why knit a sweater that won’t fit?

In other long-hibernating-project news, I am finally moving towards finishing my linen-stitch pillows. I tried three different seaming methods before I hit on one I liked:

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This is the stockinette back joined to the linen-stitch front of one of the pillows (unstuffed). I’m pretty pleased with how nice and neat this looks. My original plan was to just crochet the backs and fronts together, since I like crocheting much more than I like seaming, but this created an ugly bump in the stockinette section — I didn’t think to take a picture, but it was gross. Then I tried backstitching, but I eventually got spooked about not being able to see the seam (since the wrong sides were facing me), so now I’m doing a version of mattress stitch and it’s working well, if slowly.

I’ve also started a new mindless project for third-drink-of-the-night knitting:

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The pattern is Groovy by Annie Lee of JumperCablesKnitting. The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, which I bought in Seattle about a year ago. I expect this will take me about six million years to knit, as it’s knit on US 2s and may take as much as 700 yards of yarn, though I definitely might quit before that. But what a lovely, simple concept for a shawl! I had to pin it to get the pleats to separate for you, but presumably blocking will make them lie reasonably flat.

That’s all I’ve got for now — enjoy your holiday if you’ve got one!

Thelonius

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My usual photographer managed to get stuck in rush hour traffic on his way home from running some errands today, so I decided to awkwardly photograph these socks on my own feet. Hooray! They are Thelonius Socks from Cookie A’s beautiful book Knit. Sock. Love., which I was lucky enough to buy from her and get signed at VogueKnitting LA last year. (Judging from the ridiculous prices on Amazon, I guess it’s out of print now! But you can still buy the e-book or individual patterns on Ravelry.) I’m a big fan of the traveling lace-panel in this sock, and will probably knit another pair of socks with this design feature sometime in the near future — Cookie has lots of great patterns that use them!

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The yarn is Sundara Sock in the Antilles colorway, which I received in a deep-discount grab-bag sale that they ran a few months ago, where the color of the yarn you were buying was a surprise. While I’m happy with this color and generally love turquoise, I have to admit that I was hoping for a skein of something that would push me out of my color-comfort-zone a little more. But the yarn was a good match for this pattern, which called for Koigu, and Sundara Sock is very Koigu-like in its weight and texture. As you can see in this photo, there’s quite a bit of color-pooling, but I don’t mind very much since I basically just wear my hand-knit socks as super-fly slippers around the house.

I started a new project recently, seen here:

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It’s not very photogenic right now, but this is the beginning of a chuppah which I am honored to have been asked to knit for my friend Amanda’s wedding this summer. There is all of one chuppah pattern readily available on the internet and I wasn’t a big fan of it, but I found a square blanket pattern which I liked much better: Serenity. The motif looks hilariously vaginal in this picture, but trust me: once it’s stretched and blocked, these will be beautiful, intertwining, only-slightly-vaginal cables.

I have also continued to work on my sparkly Summit scarf/wrap:

ImageIt grows very quickly because of all that negative space, but it’s also been neglected for awhile. I’d say it’s about halfway done at this point. The pattern was a little mind-bending at first, but I’ve made friends with it now and it’s actually quite easy to execute.

Soon — later this week, I hope! — I’ll have not one but two new finished objects to show you. Stay tuned!

Breeding Lilacs Out of the Dead Land

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My Christmas knitting is in full swing, and I can’t really show you any of those projects, so here’s some spinning! I’ve just finished the first of what will be two skeins of my first properly laceweight handspun yarn. I got over 200 yards out of the first ounce of this 50/50 merino/silk blend from Sincere Sheep — exciting! I highly recommend this shop; I bought this fiber and met the proprietor at Vogue Knitting LA last fall, and all her stuff is wonderful. She’s based in Napa, and uses only natural dyes and locally sourced fiber. I’ve been naming all of my yarns after poets and poetry, and this one is of course named after the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots and spring rain.

The only non-Christmas project I’ve made any progress on lately is my handspun cowl:

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Woo! It’s so squishy and light; I’m excited to wear it this winter.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think I’m out of the woods re: Christmas knitting. I was deeply worried for awhile there, but I’ve just finished the one largeish present, and I’m nearly halfway through one of two remaining smallish presents. And then on top of that, I need to finish Pat’s scarf by a few days after Christmas when he arrives on the east coast. But I think I can do it! Wish me luck!

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What a difference a quarter millimeter makes! As you may recall, I ran out of yarn just inches from finishing this piece the first time around, and rather than rip it back beyond the halfway point and work fewer repeats, I decided to rip the whole thing out and knit it in the same size on US 5s (3.75 mm needles) instead of US 6s (4 mm needles). It seemed minorly crazy at the time, but the end result is a piece that is much larger than it would have been otherwise, and that uses up most of the skein of yarn rather than leaving like a quarter of it leftover. It’s amazing how that quarter-millimeter difference in the size of the needles allowed me to have more than enough yarn to knit this to the end!

I actually finished this weeks ago, but life has been hectic around here and I didn’t get time to block this until earlier this week. But I love it! I’m so glad that I decided to go with the green Hazel Knits MCN; my original plan was to knit it in red, but I came to my senses and realized that this grass-green yarn and this leafy pattern were really meant for each other.

Ummm pardon my boobs — but this was our best close-up shot. This yarn is seriously divine; it’s so soft and lustrous I can hardly stand it.

I seriously love this thing; I’m glad I took the time to re-do it!

I’ve also made a lot of progress on my River Crossing Cardigan, though it’s currently shelved in favor of holiday knitting:

As you can see, I’ve started one of the sleeves. But as you also might be able to see, it’s kind of a mess right below the shoulder — the pattern told me to switch to double-pointed needles, and I blithely did that, but my gauge definitely changed and got looser. I remembered after awhile that I could just knit the sleeve using the magic loop method, and the bottom part of what I’ve got there looks fine. But I think I’m going to rip the whole sleeve out and do it over with the magic loop method so the tension is even. After the holidays, that is!

Some of my holiday knitting can’t appear on this blog, but Pat is fully aware of the scarf I’m knitting in anticipation of his visit to the east coast this winter:

I am insanely happy about how this is knitting up. Pat picked the pattern from a couple of different reversible-cable scarves that I scouted up on Ravelry — yes, that’s right, it’s reversible! It looks identical on the other side, which I’ll make sure to show off to you once it’s a little longer. It’s the Deliah Scarf by Bobbi Padgett, a designer who has several lovely reversible-cable scarf patterns that you might want to check out for your own holiday knitting! The yarn is just gorgeous, too — it’s “Sporty Rambo” from Alpenglow Yarn, so named because it’s 100% Rambouillet wool. I’d never heard of that wool variety before, but it’s awesome: merino softness with targhee springiness. The colorway is “Deep Space Blue.” I picked it up at the Southern California Handweavers’ Guild Weaving and Fiber Festival a few weeks ago. I was relatively restrained there this year; this is the rest of my haul:

That thing on the left is a mystery skein, a cone remnant that I picked up for $5. You can see it’s got little rainbow flecks throughout it, which is what sold me. The lady it came from said she didn’t know its yardage or even its fiber content, but I suspect it may be a wool-linen or wool-acrylic blend; it seems denser than wool on its own. That lovely blue yarn in the middle is from Alexandra’s Crafts in Silverton, Oregon; it’s called “Baby Silver Falls,” and it’s a superwash/bamboo/nylon blend. It’s very shiny and drapey, and it should be hard-wearing from the 10% nylon. The colorway is called “Gunsmoke.” And on the left is a little packet of sari silk fibers that I plan to try to incorporate into my spinning one of these days!

And speaking of spinning, I finally have another handspun project on the needles:

This is the Lilac Wine cowl by Amy Christoffers. It’s a free pattern and dirt-simple; just a long cowl in a 1 x 1 rib. I bothered to learn the tubular cast-on for it, though, and that was sure a pain in the ass. Definitely do the two foundation rows back and forth before you join in the round; I think it would be literally impossible not to end  up twisted otherwise! I spun this yarn from merino fiber I purchased in Seattle last winter, and I considered more elaborate patterns for it, especially since it’s a solid color and might work for lace — but its airy, springy texture really seemed to want to be a big snuggly cowl. Now that I have proof of concept, this project is being largely ignored in favor of my holiday knitting, but I hope that I’ll finish it in time to enjoy it on the east coast in January! Wish me luck!