Thursday, 14 December 2017

cold and bright

The lovely people at Berroco Yarns have send me a package:

This prize includes enough yarn to knit Amy Christoffer's Bindrune from PomPom Quarterly Winter 2017 issue.  I selected a light gray for the body, a camel colour for the background colourwork, and the garnet red for the contrast colour.  I love the cozy look of the sweater, and think I can dress it up or down.  This will be one of my Christmas holiday projects - hope to finish it by January 8th (first day back to school)

The package includes the PomPom Quarterly issue, so I now have other brightly coloured projects in mind for the short and cold winter days:

Dipyramid, a two-colour stranded hat in DK weight yarn by Emily Green (above), and Orianna (below), a pullover that combines cables and colourwork.

All of the patterns are knit in soft, yet bright, colour combinations.  I hope to finish the cardigan and hat over the 2-week holiday break.  The pullover may have to wait... as I dream of spring!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

in between

Feels like the fall rush of starting cozy things has passed, but the rush to finish by Christmas isn't quite here yet.  In between means settling in to finish things I've started and plan for what comes next.  Some things are done, like my Jaded Sleeveless Turtleneck from Vogue Knitting Fall 2017.  It's modeled with bare arms - lovely but highly unlikely to be worn that way by me here in Canada!  I love the finished product, and it's my kind of garment.  Layers, cozy neck, bulky knit, texture...

I've also finished my Girl From the Grocery Store shawl by Joji Locatelli.  Ends are woven in (although not in this picture!).  The yarn is Canadian, Merino Slim by FleeceArtist.

Rye Cardigan by Thea Coleman has buttons and is blocked.  The neckline is a bit wide for me, and it slips slightly to the right, making the front look assymetrical by an inch or so.  I am not off-kilter, so it must be my blocking or finishing.  It's not seamed.  I think I'm better with pieces that I can seam when it comes to fit and finish.  Still like it though!

In progress are a poncho from Knitscene Winter - Hvil.  It's a gift for a friend for her birthday.

The other is a very colourful shawl by Andrea Mowry - Goldfinch.  I'm knitting it for a KAL with my LYS in SweetGeorgia Superwash Sport (green), Cascade 220 sport (pink) and Mineville Project yarn (speckles). The pink is a bit brighter than I usually choose but the pattern is fun to knit with lace, short rows, and stripes (oh my!).

Sunday, 22 October 2017

slow down, you think too fast

I'm constantly attempting to balance my need to "keep on schedule" and "get things done" with the very real anxiety that comes with that kind of drive.  These are self-imposed deadlines, most of the time.  Even when I knit a gift, I am aware that I have the means (time, money) to purchase an equally appropriate gift for the recipient.  These deadlines loom, on top of the very real deadlines at work and the equally demanding time limits imposed on my life as I get my children to school, sports, activities, and social opportunities.

I picked up a copy of Slow Knitting at Indigo Books last week.  I almost put it back as it was close to $40 with taxes.  But then I thought - I want to change my perspective and focus on enjoying what I make instead of starting things that become deadline-driven.

The book focuses on knowing where your wool comes from, how your materials turn into finished objects, and the connection between paying attention to these farm-to-sweater details helps you enjoy the process as much as the product.  The designs also focus on texture, stitch details, and shape - things that slow down the knitting.  Moves you away from choosing projects that will finish quickly and toward projects that give the knitter a sense of connection to the product.  By having to count rows, stitches, charts, patterns, the knitter becomes more aware of the process of making.

This makes sense.... but also means I may finish fewer things.  I don't knit just to have things, but I do like to plan, browse through patterns and books, shop for yarn, and cast on.  This part leaves me with many items in the queue that I want to knit but don't have time for.  This feeling of wanting to make more will be hard to let go.

With that in mind, I'm finishing some shawls:
Girl from the Grocery Store (just needs ends woven in):
Goldfinch:  about a third of the way done (more than in the photo):

When these are done, I hope to cast on a project from the book.  Not sure which one yet, but I'm leaning toward the cabled pullover by Norah Gaughan.  It's an unusual construction, of course, but in a worsted weight yarn that will give me a break from finer gauge shawls that seem to have taken over my knitting plans.

All of this will, I hope, lead to more joy in the process.  I do love to knit, to see the fabric grow beneath the stitches on the needle.  Fall and Winter seem perfect seasons for slowing down as the demands of life continue to pick up.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

back to school

Every summer I forget how little knitting time I have when I'm working full time, running a household, and parenting two very active and athletic kids.  My knitting slows to an almost-halt as the school year starts.  Still, I've managed to almost finish two WIPs:

I knit a Campside shawl by Alicia Plummer to give as a gift this year to a teacher.  She's into camping and has taught my child for two years now, so she's knit-worthy!  It's more blue than gray, and just needs the ends woven in.

I've also finished the knitting for my Rye cardigan by Thea Colman (Baby Cocktails), from the Berroco Portfolio Volume 1 collection.  I need to seam the sleeves (I knit them flat), sew on buttons and block it.  Hope to finish today!

I had problems with the symmetry of the decreases - didn't notice until I was almost done so I've left it for now but may rip back.  I think the error was in when I decided to keep the bramble pattern or not, leaving fewer stitches in the texture panel on one front compared to the other.  We'll see how much it bothers me when it's done.

Up next is another Lowlands Hat which uses grafting in garter stitch which is this month's technique for A Year of Techniques.  I'll be knitting a pattern I own using stash yarn, as I've done each month.  The patterns in the book (just published) are gorgeous but I'm challenging myself to knit what I have. At least for this series of projects!

I am also casting on a Joji Locatelli shawl:  The Girl in the Grocery Store using Fleece Artist Merino Slim in a purplish gray colour and a cream with the purplish speckles.   I have other shawls in the queue including a MKAL with Sweet Georgia Yarn that starts in mid October.

Now if I could just knit more and work less, I'd get it all done!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Long Runway.

I have completed a second mystery KAL.  It's very far outside of my usual knitting comfort zone (which does shift in terms of technique but not usually with colour).  It's huge, knit in fingering weight yarn (close to 2000 yards of it), and very colourful.  It took me a long time to pick the colours, and even though it's very beautiful now, I'm not convinced I'll wear it.  I usually choose solids, and muted colours.  If I'm combining colours, it's usually in either a muted palette or a very predictable one.   Otherwise, the colours are too bright, too contrasting, too... much. 

I find lots of things 'too much'.  I read a blog post called "When you have a long runway" and named my shawl Long Runway.  The gist of the post: it takes some people a while to make decisions, act on their thinking, speak their minds.  Not because they don't have an opinion but because the thought process is so complicated and deep that saying the exact thing you mean to say, the moment you mean to say often never happens (to borrow a phrase from "You've Got Mail").   

I have a long runway.  I think a lot before I act, I deliberate all the options, I consider perspectives and consequences.  I'm not impulsive, risk-taking, or impractical.  So to buy 2000 yards of multi-coloured fingering weight yarn for a 'mystery' project that I may not like in the end is so far out of my comfort zone.  That said, I love the process of knitting with a group and keeping up (or trying to keep up) with the clues.  

In the end, the wrap represents the process of being bold, and slightly brave.  I realize it's just knitting and not a life-changing decision.  But I believe we make choices based on habit, decisions based on past experiences and patterns.  Next time I'm unsure and reach for the familiar, I can remind myself that it might be okay to do something differently.  Maybe.

Friday, 14 July 2017

There's a first for everything!

In the spirit of "A Year of Techniques", I am attempting July's technique, the heel-flap and gusset.  This requires me to knit my first pair of socks.  I've been knitting for over 30 years, on and off.  I've knit garments of all kinds, hats, shawls, lace, cables.... I can cable without a needle, read lace charts, and am not intimidated by most things knitterly.  Except socks.

My hesitation to knit socks is related to technique, mostly.  And style.  I knit loosely.  I often have to go down at least 2 needle sizes to get stitch gauge (and then adjust for row gauge as needed).  For socks, this means knitting on VERY tiny needles.  I'm using 2mm needles for my current project, but if my LYS had smaller DPNs I'd likely be one size smaller.

So far, I'm done one repeat of the chart, and realize that cables, twisted stitches and a heel-flap all in one might not be the best combination for one's first pair of socks.  I'm not a beginner, so other than the heel-flap these are not new skills.... but socks are knitting much more slowly than I'd like them to be.  I feel a strong case of "second sock syndrome" coming on in my near future!

Pattern - Festoon by Rachel Coopey
Yarn - Viola Sock by Emily Foden

Sunday, 18 June 2017

more techniques

I'm moving along with the Year of Techniques hosted by Arnall-Culliford.  So far, we've covered Helical Stripes, Intarsia, and Pinhole cast-on.  I finished my Amstel Hat that started top-down with a pinhole cast-on, using Berroco Ultra Alpaca:

June's technique is knitted-on edging.  In keeping with my plan to use stash yarn and patterns I own, I'm knitting the Hydrangea Neckwarmer from the book Brave New Knits.  I'm done the main body, and have started the edging.  This is a new skill, but not a difficult one.  The pattern calls for a provisional cast-on for the edging, but I will seam at the end.   The yarn is variegated and pattern is lacy, so a small seam in the edging won't be noticeable.  It was less awkward than the provisional one in the original pattern.

I'm enjoying the challenge of learning (or practicing) new things, but am happy that I've stuck with using pattern and yarn I own.  It's so tempting to buy new patterns and yarns.  This allows me to search through my books and patterns for things I may have overlooked before, and match with yarns to knit things I may not have considered before.  Can't wait to see what July brings!