Friday, May 29, 2015

Shetland - Yes Please!

First off, a wholehearted "Thank YOU!" to all you commented on my last post.  I usually respond to each comment, but there were so many I thought I'd thank you all at once.  You all made my day with your sweet kind words.  I read them all aloud to my husband who commented "Knitters are so cool."  How right he is!

Speaking of my husband, he brought home one of his knitted vests (he keeps them at work so they're on hand when he inevitably gets cold) that he stopped wearing because it was too short.  It's knit out of the first yarn I ever spun.  I used MN Shetland fiber as the Scots in me loves the heritage connection we have and well, it's super easy to spin too.  Needless to say I did not want to frog this sweater vest, but it was knit from the bottom up making me unsure on how to lengthen it.  The internet came to my rescue and with a video no less!  Seriously, the internet is wonderful for all the knitting information and videos you can find.  Following the Knitting Daily video I picked up a row of stitches just above the ribbing of the vest and then, gulp, cut the row just below and removed the ribbing.  It was very slick, not messy and I was able to save the handspun yarn from the ribbing to reuse.  Yay!  So, I've knit the 2 inches that was the ribbing in stockinette and just started on the new ribbing thankful that I had extra of this handspun yarn on hand.  I'm thinking I will finish it today and block it over the weekend.  There is a bit of a "ridge" from the old to the new knitting, but hopefully that will block right out.

In the Shetland theme of today's post I'm showing you the latest (and probably last for quite a while) addition to my stash - Clara Yarn Shetland 1.0.  Have you heard of this company?  They have a great story which I found so compelling that I bought a sweater's worth amount of yarn.  It came in the mail yesterday and man I am in LOVE!  The color, texture, feel it's just all so perfect for my taste and it's destiny is this sweater.  In my knitting schedule for the rest of the year (don't you have one of those?) I have it blocked off for December for a from me to me Christmas gift.  Thus, all the Christmas knitting I'm planning on has to be done by the end of November, which works on paper, but we'll have to see if I'm biting off more than I can chew as the saying goes.

Joining in with Amanda for Fibre Arts Friday and Linda for Creative Friday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Stash Situation and Progress

Small portion of the out of control stash.  And yes, those are each 2 gallon sized Ziploc bags or in other words a sweater each!

Dan's sweater vest.

So, it's happened again.  While my back was turned my yarn stash added to it ranks.  I was down to 1 1/2 Rubbermaid large tubs of yarn and now suddenly it's doubled in size and I have three.  How does this happen you may ask?  Well, definitely with some stealth, forgetfulness, impetuousness and excitement of new possibilities (because that's what yarn is after all - new possibilities.)   That and well...maybe a yarn sale or two and a couple of fiber events might of pushed me over the edge.  But, this of course is not the real reason why I purchased so much yarn.  The real underlying reason, I figured out recently, is that I'm lonely and when I'm lonely I shop.  

Now, don't get me wrong I have friends and a loving family, but what I don't have is knitting friends.  Only one of my friends knit and she has 3 kids with one on the way so you can just imagine how much knitting time she has on her hands (let alone time to visit.)  Knitting has become my passion and fills much of my waking hours.  And not having anyone to talk to about it (besides you lovely people, but let's face it it's a bit one sided on a blog) is really getting me down.  

To remedy this situation I turned to Ravelry and started looking for a local knitting group to join.  It seems the obvious answer and I just haven't done it yet out of shyness and my hermit like tendencies.  Well, there is one other reason I have yet to find a group.  I knit kinda weird.  My mom taught me and she taught herself from a book which wasn't very clear with it's directions.  It works fine.  I make knitted things as you've seen, but sometimes I look rather fumbly and awkward (at least I feel that way.)  It's very silly of me I know to be concerned with how I look knitting, but I do so that's that.  But, I think I really need people to talk to in person about knitting so I'm making the leap to join a group.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming of knitting.  I've made decent progress on Dan's Wall Street Cables vest and will definitely finish it in time for Father's Day.  The yarn is a nice soft merino, but I'm thinking I might not have quite enough or it will be tight to say the least.  I started this project 3 years ago when I was still rather new to knitting and didn't know to estimate more yarn then suggested by the pattern.  I think I will have enough to finish the front panel thanks to the deep v-neck so the worst outcome would be a contrasting neck and arm edgings.  Which, let's face it wouldn't be too terrible.  The frustrating thing is I think this sweater is going to be big on my Hubbie and I probably could've knitted one size down eliminating my yarn shortage issues.  Agh!  I am determined to finish though and well, Dan likes loose clothing so all this wringing of hands might be for naught.  At least that's what I hoping.

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Revisiting an Old Project

No, I've not finished the second mitten, or the navy and white summer top, but yes, I have moved on to another project.  I think I have a knitting specific ADD.  Well really, it occurred to me the other day that Father's day is about a month after mother's day and maybe I should make something special for my husband (especially after not knitting him anything for his birthday - for shame Ann.)  When given the option of this spiffy hat or another sweater vest he opted for the vest (he gets very cold at work even in the summer as he doesn't care for AC.)  It just so happens I have one halfway knitted from over 3 years ago.  Yup, you heard me right 3 years ago I started this vest, finishing the backside only to then panic that I would not have enough yarn to complete it so I promptly stopped knitting.  Because if you don't knit you won't run out of yarn and everything will be fine right?  Fine, but no sweater vest to wear.  Sigh.  So, I decided to get back to it for Father's Day and it seems to me I'll have enough yarn and if not, well then there's always contrasting trim right? 

The only bummer is a mistake I made in the middle of the back all those years ago - can you see it?  I made one whole grouping of cables tighter than the rest all the way across.  It's right smack dab in the middle of the back too.  Now, my quandary is do I replicate this mistake on the front panel so the seams match as they should or do I knit it correctly for the front and side seams be damned?  Notice how I don't mention re-knitting the back to fix said mistake?  It's just too much for this faint heart to unravel that much knitting.  What do you think?

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday and Amanda for Fibre Arts Fridays

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shepard's Harvest and Mittens

- The Festival -

- The Goodies -

- The Results -

Ok, you made it through the pictures; now onto the text!  This past weekend was Minnesota's largest fiber festival Shepard's Harvest and needless to say I was very excited to go.  It was my first time attending and boy was it a wonderful experience.  It will definitely be an annual pilgrimage for me and my family.  There were beautiful alpacas, goats, sheep and of so soft bunnies (I could just kick myself for forgetting to take some pics of the angora rabbits they were so beautiful.  Sam held one too.)  There were hand knitters, machine knitters, spinners with drop spindles, spinners with spinning wheels (there was even one of these great wheels being demoed) basket makers, tons of vendors, lovely musicians and yummy not so good for you Fair food.  Lots of demos were happening all weekend: spinning, sheep dog herding, sheep and alpaca shearing and machine knitting to name a few.  Crafts were available too for those families so inclined as well as many, many classes (which you need to sign up for months in advance - note to self for next year.)   Ah, it was lovely.

My new friend Mary Lou of Angora Gardens even displayed some of my knitted bunny and cat children's toys (for which I use her yarns) with her fabulous angora products at the festival.  She did a little post about me too on her blog.  Here is a picture she took with one her baby angoras.  She titled it "Real or Imposter?"

She had bigger bunnies ready for adoption at the Fair and my son Sam was itching to take one of the black ones home.  We're considering it and may be making a farm visit to adopt one.

After perusing all the the many vendors I made a few purchases.  From Golden Meadow Alpacas from Lewis Minnesota I bought 5 sport weight skeins of natural colored alpaca yarn.  My original intent was to find Shetland yarn to make this Kate Davies hat which requires 9 different shades, but alas no Shetland was to be found.  So, I "made do", if you can call this beautiful alpaca yarn making do, with only 5 shades of 100% alpaca yarn (I wanted more colors but the price of full skeins multiplied by 9 was a bit too cost prohibitive for me.)  Then to satisfy my spinning urge I purchased 2 buttery soft balls of angora and alpaca roving from Three Sisters Farm and Fiber from Winona Minnesota.  There was quite a lot of alpaca at the festival, which makes me think they must be well suited to our crazy climate of freezing winters and hot humid summers.

Of course upon arriving home I quickly abandoned my current knitting project to knit with these new yarns.  Such a fickle woman am I.  I tried stranded mittens for the first time using this Knitting Traditions pattern.  It calls for eight colors so I had to modify it a bit, but I don't think using only 5 colors detracted one bit from the outcome.  I'm very pleased with the results to say the least.  Although I did pull my strands a bit tight in places, even with knitting them inside out to keep them loose, the blocking seems to have eased the yarn tension sufficiently.  The only bummer is the thumb is a tad bit short, but still wearable.  I was suspicious it would be (I have long thumbs), but then it seemed like it was going to be ok, but then it wasn't.  Trust your intuition Ann!  I'm hopeful that the yarn will stretch a bit with use.  I know I could always undo the thumb and add more rounds, but that sounds too daunting to do with stranded knitting so I'm just going to leave it as is.  Now to get going on the second mitten, then maybe a matching Scottish tam and cowl? much for summer tops.

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm and Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A New Project!

Casting on for a new project - yay!!  The Summer Top is currently blocking and though I have yet to wear it, it has turned me on to knitting even more summer tops!  Thus the above project has begun and will be the Astonish Top from Knit Picks Golden Morning collection of patterns.  It's knit on the bias and has a lovely drape.  I'm using Valley Yarns Charlemont fingering weight yarn (the other yarn I got for Mother's Day last year - see the theme?) which is mainly merino wool, but has 20% silk in it's makeup.  The silk should really add to the drape of this pattern as well as lending a lovely sheen.  I chose my favorite classic color combo of navy blue and white (which is starting to take over my wardrobe.)  My only trepidation to this project is the fact that it is fingering weight yarn knit on tiny US 2 1/2 - 3 mm needles.  This is making progress slow, but oh, do I love the look! 

Joining in with Andrea for Fibre Arts Friday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Summer Top!

I'm finally finishing up my warm weather sweater I planned on knitting last summer.  I received the yarn as a gift from mother's day a year ago, and knit the bulk of it while on retreat this Spring.  The pattern is Gemini by Jane Richmond and it is free and very easy to follow.  It's meant for a DK weight yarn and while the Hempathy by Elsbeth Lavold is considered DK I thought the fabric was a bit too loose at gauge.  To remedy this I added a lace weight strand of Malabrigo merino yarn and now I love the resulting fabric and the color variation the Malabrigo lends.  Of course this addition means I have to handwash the sweater, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.  I have about 4 inches left to knit which is so close and yet so far as it's boring stockinette (good TV knitting though.)  Then just a few rows and some ribbing to finish off each of the sleeves and I'm done.  This is my first knitted warm weather top and I can't wait to wear it.  Now, if it would just warm up already, but alas Spring in Minnesota is temperamental to say the least.

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Socks for Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Since I filled my mom's quota for knitted hats I've turned to knitting socks for her.  Who doesn't need more hand knit wool socks right?  I used this simple toe up pattern, using Artyarns Ultra Merino 6 DK weight yarn and US size 3 needles.  They came out quite squishy, bouncy, soft and fit just right.  I gave them to my mom early as I never seem to be able to hang on to a finished gift to the actual occasion (if I finish early that is.)  

So Happy Mother's Day everyone:  to the moms still with us, those that have past and especially to those women who want to be but haven't been able.  I wish you all a wonderful day full of love that lasts all year.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Loss, Illness and Hats

I have been absent from this space at first because I left for a trip to visit a friend, then because I was getting ready for a craft fair and lastly because of a large loss.  We lost a wonderful neighbor whom we known for over 18 years to suicide.  She was a woman who always had time for a chat and a chuckle and was the glue that held our little city block together.  Up and down our alley way she would walk and check in on people working in their yards or tease the kids riding their bikes.  She didn't mind the neighborhood children filching her delicious raspberries out of her garden and was always generous sharing plants and her love of gardening.  I still can't believe she's gone and keep expecting to see her in her yard weeding or watering as I pass by on my way somewhere.  It hurts to know she was suffering and none of us knew she needed our help.  It was a total shock to us all.

To deal with my sadness I've turned to knitting hats for cancer patients who have lost their hair to chemo therapy.  I just have this need to give comfort and help someone since I can no longer help my neighbor.  My friend Amy lost her mom to cancer a couple of years ago, and to deal with her grief she organized a group called Team Yarn to knit chemo caps.   She then personally distributes them all over the Twin Cities metro area here in MN.  Sadly, their is a large need for these hats as many people come here from all over for treatment.  It's really helped her process the loss of her mother.  I have knit hats for her here and there over the last 2 years for fun and to support her, but now I am knitting in earnest.  In fact, I've gone through my entire stash and scraps of yarn and knit up everything that is soft enough for a chemo cap.  I'm up to a dozen so far, knitting about one hat per day.

I have the time for all this knitting because a week after the news of my neighbor I had an onset of Vertigo that landed me in the hospital.  Vertigo is extreme dizziness that then causes nausea and vomiting.  After a lot of tests the doctors told me it was brought on my an inflammation in my inner ear and that I just have to wait it out until it goes away in some 2 - 6 weeks.  Now, I'm much better than I was in the hospital and the nausea has past, but I'm still dizzy and I can't drive.  The first week my husband stayed home and took care of me as I couldn't walk around that well, but this week I'm on my own and am managing ok.  Except now, my son contracted Strep Throat and is out of commission as well.  Thus, my poor husband is working his regular job, caring for us, doing all the driving to Doctor appointments, washing dishes, cooking, laundry and cleaning.  And what's amazing is he does it all with a smile.  We may be down and out, but I sure feel very lucky.

Joining in with Andrea for Fiber Arts Friday.