Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Finished and Free

Officially, spring is less than a month away.  Actually, we have at least two more months of wintry weather.  That means it's not too late to add to your supply of thick, warm neckwear.

Fisher Hill is an infinity scarf that is long enough to wear doubled.  For a quicker project, crochet a single loop instead.  Make it taller if you like.  Use a bright spring color.  Laugh at the cold, windy weather.

You can download the free pattern here:  Fisher Hill

Friday, February 20, 2015

FO Holiday

Although I haven't been blogging about them, I have managed to finish a few items.

I started these mitts in the fall to be a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law who is a painter.  She requested that the mitts have fingers, and I liked this pattern Hidden Gusset free from Knitty, First Fall 2014.  They make a snug, good fitting mitt, and the pattern includes instructions for a version with fingers and one without.

What with one thing and another, and another, and another, these did not get completed in time.  Inspired by the Spirit Trail Fiberworks 2015 Stash Down, I  grabbed the project bag and got to work this week.  Not much yardage to count for the Stash Down, but a lot of satisfaction in finishing them.

Finishing them also frees up the chair where the socks for my brother-in-law, a couple of books, some wrapping paper, and a shipping box have been sitting since December.  Not that I use the chair for much beyond a temporary landing place for things going in or out of the room, but it sits in a direct line of sight from my knitting chair.  Maybe it's taunting presence is why I've been doing my knitting in other rooms lately.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stash Down Buffet

I've got my work cut out for me this year:  Two large afghans for the nieces, another blanket, and the Spirit Trail Fiberworks* Stash Down projects.

I'm hoping giving myself these marching orders will cut down on my crafting distractibility. Oh, call it what it is, outright attention deficit disorder.  It's what led to a closet and a half full of yarn, a slew of unfinished projects, and a general sense of chaos.

I've winnowed the huge pile of Spirit Trail Fiberworks down to this:

Which I hope to turn into this:

1.  Finish the (unpictured) unfinished:

Hidden Gusset Mitts
Glasgow Rose Shawl
Caissa Sweater

2.  Start and finish the unstated (clockwise from upper left):

Brigantia (Sweater Club 2014 blue)  Laurie pullover  Worked at a loose gauge, this should be a quick knit, and be a great sweater to wear with jeans.  It is knit without seams, but I may add faux seams after the fact because I like the structure, and I am too lazy to work out how to knit it in pieces.

Verdande (Sweater Club 2014 red) Adventurous cardigan.  A more ambitious project, but the yarn has excellent stitch definition and will do justice to the cables.  This is a very long coat sweater.  Since I may be a little short of yarn, the fact that it is knit from the top down is a plus.

Birte (Inkheart, Saffron, Glencoe, Graphite, Rosewood) Oslo Shawl.  After much procrastination:  color work.  One knitter commented that this was a good beginning colorwork project.

Sunna (Knitting Club yarn crimson and green) Faberge.  I have loved this pattern since the minute I saw it, and have dithered for years about what yarns to use.  This one is knit from the ruffled edging up, which will be fun, and for although I am someone whose wardrobe resemble's that of a yoga-pant- wearing nun's, I do love a bit of beaded bling.

3.  I'll be throwing in a design project or too, yarn to be announced.

Wish me luck.

*The auto-correct wants to substitute "Fireworks" for "Fiberworks" which is appropriate when you look at the intense, luminous colors of the yarn.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blocked Blocks

Block is one of those great old words that sounds like what it means:  like a stump, like a chunk, like a stop.  But in spite of all that solidity,  my blocks are progressing.

I've completed three for Molly's Afghan and have decided to think ahead, beyond the blocks, to the point a few months from now when I am faced with 63 individual squares and the task of putting them all together.

From the Learn to Knit Afghan Book: Basketweave (#3) and Garter
Stripe (#1) and a wild card square--
Letter "M".

I'll do what finishing I can as I go:  weave in the ends,  wet block,  and edge with the contrasting color.  Today I merely steam blocked to see what the dimension of the square would be:  8.5 X 8.5 inches.  A bit larger than my estimate, but not so much as to radically alter the size of the finished item.  As long as I keep to my gauge, I should have plenty of yarn.

I've assembled granny square afghans before, and the sewing or crocheting together isn't all that onerous, particularly in the presence of some bingeworthy television.

So I am looking forward to how righteously smug I'm going to feel when it comes time to put it all together.   Here's hoping that smugness doesn't go before a stumble.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Toolsday: Substituting Made Easy

I know I'm not the only one who falls in love with a pattern which calls for a hard-to-get yarn or calls out to me in a period of needing to shop the stash, not the store. I also find myself designing patterns with well-aged stashlings that have been discontinued.

In the process of writing what I thought would be today's post, I came across a newish website that takes some of the headache out of substituting yarns:  YarnSub

Run by Wendy Petersen of the muddy sheep blog, this is an extremely easy-to-use resource.  You enter the name of the yarn you want to substitute for and up pops a detailed description of the yarn (fiber, gauge, yardage, etc.) and list of possible subs.  The substitute candidates are listed in the order of how closely they match, and this is spelled out in detail.  If you don't like arithmetic or can't find your calculator, the listing includes the per ball equivalence.

The interface of YarnSub is very clean and features a soothing blue color scheme. As someone with horrible eyesight I appreciate those elements and the large clear font and the lots-of-white space format in which information is displayed.

The big-name yarns are there, but so are a lot of the independent dyers and smaller producers.  In some cases, a link is provided for buying the yarn, particularly useful for some of the less widely available brands.

The site also includes articles on substituting in general, watching, and yarn characteristics.

The science of yarn substitution.

I've bookmarked it for myself, and I know that it will be well-clicked.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Slo-Mo FO

Since the cold weather arrived here, a few months ago now, I've been opening the drawer where I keep cowls and small scarves expecting to find the cushy yellow one.

It hasn't been there, because, although I wound the yarn for it over a year ago, I never got around to knitting it. I have any number of yarn cakes sitting around and I don't expect to see the finished products, if I can even remember what they were meant to be.  But that yellow cowl kept playing hide and seek with my delusional reptile brain which acts as if once the yarn is wound the knitting deed is done.

The heaps of February snow, frigid temperatures, and gray skies have meant a lot of quiet inside time and an opportunity to knit and crochet.  A lot.

So now I have the cushy yellow cowl.  I wore it today.  Portable sunshine. Quince & Co. Osprey in Honey and Carrie's Yellow. My reptile brain is satisfied.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stash Down

It's the crafter's polite version of a Smack Down.  The only thing we are competing with is our own accumulated yardage, though, not some trash-talking tough guy in tights.

Over the years I've acquired some gorgeous yarns from Spirit Trail Fireworks.  They are without a doubt the most luxurious yarns in my collection, and the colors are intense, gemlike, and subtly variegated.  Projects I've made to date with STF yarns are among my very favorite.

This year, I'll be adding some more.  Finishing up the two or three already in progress, including my WIP of Shame, a sweater that's been on the needles for two years, since winter storm Nemo:

There's also a new design for a crocheted infinity.  It's still plenty wintry here in the Boston area.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Heart Ravelry

I have been a member of ravelry since it was in Beta, now almost eight years ago.  I've made friends, published patterns, planned my knitting and crocheting, kept track of my projects, discussed books, spent hours admiring the extraordinary handwork of others, and picked up any number of tips.

On Monday I was reminded of why I love ravelry so much.  Before blogging about it, I posted the afghan project to my ravelry notebook.  In a flash, I had a message from a rav friend who gave me some friendly advice about the Cascade 220 Superwash:  the dark green runs when you wash it.  She had knit something with two of the very colors I had chosen and had that experience, with the off-white becoming a dingy gray.  She took the time to send me a message. We've never met, aren't in regular correspondence, just friends who happen to see what each other is up to, and who are willing to share experience. How angelic is that?

katrog hearts teresa2t

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Year of the Blanket

Not just the blanket of snow that is thickening all over the Boston area.

January 24, 2015

Same table. February 9, 2015

And it's still coming down, with as much as another two feet over today and tonight.

No wonder my knitting visions are of blankets and oversized sweaters.

One niece is heading to college in upstate New York in the fall and since I can't knit snowshoes I thought I'd knit a blanket.  She requested her new school colors--gray and forest green--and I'll be knitting the Learn-to-Knit Afghan from Barbara Walker's book of the same name.  It consists of 63 squares covering a range of knitting from simple knit and purl to lace, cables and colorwork.  I'll be subbing in a couple of personalized squares, and working the squares in gray and white with a forest green edging.  The forest green yarn is caught in a snow drift between here and somewhere out west, but I expect it to arrive soon.

Cascade 220 Superwash.  Silver Gray & Aran.