Friday, August 31, 2012

Finished Object Friday: Helm

What does everyone need in August?  A winter hat, of course.  Duh.

Pattern:  Helm by Stephen West
Cast on:  Can't remember...a few months ago
Finished:  August 22, 2012
Yarn:  2 ply handspun from Fiber Optic superwash merino fiber, "Peacock"

I cast on this hat when I needed a break from a cabled sweater I was working on.  Note to self:  when taking a break from a sweater because you are tired of the cables, don't cast on a cabled hat.  A few rows into the cable pattern I realized my mistake, and Helm was tucked into the bottom of the knitting bag for awhile.  A few rows here and there over the last few months and ta-da, finished hat.  In general, a cool pattern (but really what Stephen West hat pattern isn't?), and it's perfect for showing off nice squishy semi-solid yarns.  I can see making this one again.  When my hands recover from the cables that is.

The only issue I have with the pattern is the sort-of earflaps, which are both my favorite and least favorite parts of the hat. The earflaps are awesome because they create a shape that completely covers ears, but they are shaped with short rows.  Everyone says not to pick up the wraps when you use short rows in garter stitch, and while this worked on one side, on the other, not so much.

Uh, yeah, the wraps always disappear in garter stitch and never leave holes.  Sure. 

But whatever, nothing a few stitches can't tighten up and with Helm, another skein of handspun bites the dust.  This was my third attempt at knitting this particular skein.  I was about to declare it cursed after knitting almost the entire skein twice only to not like the pattern on attempt 1 and to run out of yarn on attempt 2.  Helm to the rescue!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Good Citizen

This is what the first 2 hours of jury duty looks like.


The knitting dropped off quickly after those first couple of hours when I was actually selected for a jury.  The general public does not seem to understand that garter stitch and listening to testimony actually go beautifully together.  For some reason I decided not to try to point this out to the judge and dutifully kept the knitting tucked away in my bag while in the courtroom.

Knitting in the jury room during our breaks has sparked some interesting conversation.  No, I did not grow up knitting as a child, nor was I taught by my mother or grandmother.  Yes really, it was a grown-up decision I made all by myself (with the help of a couple of enabling coworkers).  A couple women wished they knit but insisted they don't have the time.  Um, you just talked about the 2 hours of television you're going to watch tonight, but whatever, I smiled sympathetically.  Must be rough to be so swamped, and no, I didn't see Project Runway this week.  My favorite though was that apparently I only have the time to knit because I don't have children.  Seriously?  I'm sure none of you other knitters out there have children either.  Wait you do?  You work full-time and have children and knit?  Will wonders never cease? 

And no, I did not get my hand-dyed merino cashmere laceweight at Michael's.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Clockwork

The road of self-discovery was rather humbling this week.

Lesson 1:  I am not in the kick-ass shape I imaged.  Not exactly a news flash since I’ve been slacking since June, but even though I can boast completing a marathon and a half-Iron distance triathlon in the last six months, when confronted with the Insanity workout DVDs, I still collapsed on the floor in heap of sweat while gasping for air.  My quads feel like lead, and stairs are not my friend.  Oh yeah, and I’m only on day 2 of 60.  It’s going to be a long 2 months.

But you guys don’t really care about that right?  You’re here for the knitting.  That brings me to:

Lesson 2:  I AM AN IDIOT

Ages ago I planned to knit Clockwork, bought the pattern, and then whined when I realized I didn’t have as much yarn as the pattern called for.  Anyone remember that pity-party?  Apparently I needed 16 months of continuing to daydream about a red and cream Clockwork to come to the ridiculously obvious conclusion that it’s just a scarf knit lengthwise, and I could knit a narrower version.  Seriously, it took 16 months for that to occur to me.  Within hours of my monumental epiphany, the pattern was printed, yarn was wound, and Clockwork was in progress.

With the easy Citron project wrapped up and Laika currently acting like a black-hole of knitting, Clockwork is my new go-to project.  Is it all I hoped and dreamed?  No idea yet, but I'm enjoying it so I'm not stressing about the end result. After weeks of laceweight yarn and size 2 needles for Laika, I'm absolutely loving sportweight and size 6.  I thought I’d be further along after spending 10 hours at a dog agility event on Saturday, but the day was hectic and I was exhausted. Juno too.

Despite the blue ribbon, it was not one of our better days--only 2 clean runs of 5.  I think we were both hot, tired, and out of sorts.  Hiking and swimming with Rugby on Sunday was more her speed.  Wet dirty dogs are happy dogs!

Happy dogs will still refuse to look at the camera though. 

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Finished Object Friday: Starling Citron

Recent epiphany:  the amount of time it takes me to post a finished knitted item is directly related to how I feel about said item.  Jordan, which I was thrilled with, I posted within 2 days.  Citron?  It was finished over a month ago.  I could drone on that I was on vacation, or just too busy lately, and the colors weren't coming out well in pictures and I wanted to wait until I got better ones, but really, those are all just excuses.  The plain and simple truth is that my feeling on Citron is best summed up in one word:  meh.  And it's not that easy to motivate to sit down and write about something that you are not excited about.

The crazy thing is that it came out almost exactly as I envisioned and planned.  Apparently I had to see the actual item and not just the picture in my head to realize it is so not me.

Example of color wonkiness

I do not do bold stripey shawls. Unfortunately I had to make one to realize that.  So I'm chalking up these few weeks of knitting and over 700 yards of handspun (those runched sections absolutely devoured yarn) to a lesson learned.  I will be trying to remind myself regularly as I drool over gorgeous handpainted braids of fiber that solid colors are my friend.  Or at least slowing transitioning gradients.  And maybe variegated braids that aren't as vibrant.  Or I could spin the fiber differently to give it a more heathered appearance. Or....yeah, I don't see myself passing up all variegated braids anytime soon.  How about just:  choose wisely?

The good thing is that I adored every minute of knitting Citron.  Even those beastly 700+ stitch rows (I seriously think it took about 90 minutes to bind off).  The handspun came out so well that I think I just liked knitting with it no matter what I was knitting, even endless rows of stockinette.  And talk about utilizing every last bit of handspun--I had maybe 2 grams left.  So while I am firmly in the "product knitting" camp, even I can't regret all the happy hours this shawl provided.  You win some, you lose some--I'm calling this one a draw.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Laika

You know those vacations that you feel like you need a second vacation to recover from?  That would be my week in Lake Placid in mid-July.  We’ve been back for weeks, and I’m just starting to feel like I’ve got a handle on things again.  It was a fantastic week in a house filled with friends, good swim, bike, run training for me, and I got to watch Mike cross the finish line of his very first Ironman triathlon.  Amazing. But exhausting.  Especially when you top off a very active week with 2 long car trips.  I had some lofty crafting expectations for my “vacation” week, almost none of which amounted to anything.  My spindle never made it out of the bag, and my already lackluster Tour de Fleece fizzled to non-existence.

Despite a bag packed with 3 or 4 projects, the only knitting of the week, and pretty much the only knitting since, has been on Laika.

Sadly, not much to show for over 3 weeks of knitting.  I’m not sure what I expected from a sweater knit with size 2.5 needles and laceweight yarn, but in theory, I started this project with hopes of having a lightweight sweater to wear in the fall.  Even though I’ve been knitting Laika almost exclusively for weeks now, that goal is starting to appear rather delusional.  At this rate, the body alone will take a couple of months, and then when I think about sleeves and the hood…Oh. My.  I’m going to be knitting this sweater forever.  Perhaps I’ll shoot for a spring sweater. For 2014.  

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