Monday, July 9, 2018

A Problem with a Solution and Stripes

Hello readers!  It's a warm and beautiful day here in Minnesota today.  My son is now old enough to go to our local park on his own so I find myself with some free time in which to write this morning.

My Tegna sweater knitting is going slowly and I already have the fear of running out of yarn in the fawn colorway.  I know I should always buy extra yarn, but I hate having "extra" leftover.  Using it all up is my favorite thing, but in this case I might very well have to purchase extra yarn.  Sigh. 

Though that's not the problem I mention in the title.  See, I made a mistake in the lace.  Well, actually, I made quite a few mistakes in the lace, but this one is pretty consistent, obvious and doesn't look good.  There are two inverted stockinette triangles that are stacked and each are topped with two rows of purls.  The bottom one however only has only a single row of purls and looks rather wimpy compared the the  top triangle which is correct.   Ripping back that far was just not an option.  I simply couldn't handle frogging all that lace (Of course I noticed this mistake after I completed the entire lace section.)

Problem photo.

Thinking on the problem a bit I came up with the idea of duplicate stitch but with purl bumps instead of smooth knit stitches.  That solution proved a bit difficult to wrap my brain around performing, but simple embroidery back stitch worked out wonderfully.  I've only done this one out of my 23 repeats and although it is time consuming the result is perfect I think you'll agree.  My plan is to do a couple at a time to break up all that knitting in the stockinette section. 

Fixed photo.

Speaking of the stockinette section what do you think about the stripes?  I made them 3 rows stripes and am wondering if narrower would be better.  I knit them using this "jogless" technique I watched on YouTube.  I love YouTube knitting videos.  It's so much easier to see what's happening than deciphering pictures in a book I think.  There are short rows that happen in the shoulder section of this sweater so I might switch back to the solid fawn color when they occur and stay in the one color all the way to the bindoff.  Hopefully that will balance out the lace section. 

Well, my son is still out so I might sneak in a bit of knitting time too. Until next time, bye-bye!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sweater Progress and Making Do

 Tegna sweater lace hem in progress.

Hello there!  How are you all doing?  I'm pretty happy and content these days.  I have even been adding long daily walks with my Black Labrador Easy to my mental health regime.  She's such a sweetie as labs generally are, but even more laid back and easy going hence her name.  It's funny that when you are well mentally doing the things that add to your mental well being are no problem, but when you are depressed can be a Herculean feat.  A few months back taking a walk around my block would have been more than I could handle, but now I'm up to walking 10,000 plus steps a day!  My hope is that by establishing a walk as part of my daily duties during these warm summer months I'll be able to keep it up during autumn and winter.

On the knitting front, I have been making slow and steady progress on my Tegna sweater.  I fussed with the gauge, as I seem to be doing lately, trying to get the yarn I already have on hand to work.  I knit up and washed a large swatch of the Charlemont fingering weight yarn on US size 5 / 3.75 mm needles and got too many stitches.  Realizing I would have to go up to at least to a US size 7 / 4.5 mm needles to get gauge, made me also realize that the fabric would be quite loose and too sheer to wear the sweater by itself.  So, since the Tegna pattern had a good selection of sizes I was able to do some math to pick which size would get me the closest to my desired amount of ease.  I'm hoping to get about 8 inches / 20 cm of ease at the bust which makes the ease at the hem a wild 27 inches / 68.5 cm by knitting the 2XL size.  If I would have gotten gauge I would knit the L size. 

Let me tell ya there are quite a few cast on stitches for the 2XL!  I followed the advice of another knitter and placed my stitch markers for the lace repeat as I was casting on to make the counting simpler.  It was such a good idea!  Good luck was with me and I didn't twist the cast on when I joined in the round.  Woohoo!  The lace chart is very clear, but with so many repeats I made any number of mistakes as my attention waned.  Some mistakes I fixed and some I just left alone as the sweater will fall into folds with so much ease that no one should be able to see them.  There are still 6 rows of lace left, then it's onto the stockinette stripes that I can knit easily while I watch a movie.  Since I talk to myself when knitting lace to keep on pattern, I haven't been able to watch or listen to any podcasts for quite a while now. 

Not being able to watch or listen to anything has made my time knitting more focused and actually more relaxed.  Thus, I am enjoying my knitting even more  This need or desire we have to multitask I think robs of of this enjoyment of being in the moment with our knitting.  Hmm, maybe I'll rethink how I want to knit the stockinette section?

As I mentioned earlier about making the yarn I have on hand work I have also been trying really hard to make due with what I have around me for other things such as my wardrobe, sewing, making dinner etc.  This brings me to having some success of turning a "wanting new" into  a "I can do that myself."  For a while now I have wanted a Fringe Field Project Bag.  I see them all over, but quite frankly they are too expensive for me.  It dawned on me while I was looking online at said bag that I could sew one myself.  It wouldn't have the leather handle, but I had thick red canvas (cira 2008) thread and got some cotton clothesline from the hardware store for cheap.  So, I embarked on an afternoon of making a project bag for myself with no pattern just a general idea from the pictures I've seen.  Below is the result.

Homemade Field project bag.

My only disappointment, if you can call it that, was that the bag doesn't close completely as the fabric is really thick.  Otherwise, I am thrilled with it!  It has 3 inside pockets, double thick sides and bottom and it stays open on it's own.  It is also big enough to hold all 4 skeins for my Tegna sweater!  A wonderful achievement for an afternoons work.  How are you finding ways to "make do" with your crafting?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I'm Back

     I'm back both in both the literal and figurative sense  I'm "back"writing a blog post and I feel "back" to my old self again.  The wonders of modern medicine and talk therapy!

     It feels wonderful to be enjoying knitting again.  Since I last posted, I finished that scrappy linen stitch scarf as well as a shawl (shown above) called Areas by Martina Behm.  Areas was a very simple and soothing knit with no purling at all.  Because I didn't do a gauge swatch (I know, I know, bad Ann.) it came out smaller in length measuring only 72 inches instead of the patterns stated 84 inches. I am a tight knitter by nature and should have gone up a needle size, but in the end the shawl turned out to be perfectly fine for how I would like to wear it come cold weather.

     The yarn I used I've had in my stash since Mother's Day of  2015, so it's high time I used it up.  It's called Charlemont by Valley Yarns and consists of a blend of Merino Wool, Silk and Nylon.  I used their colorsways natural and navy blue as these two colors represent about 80 % of my wardrobe and as I mentioned earlier they were already in my stash.  I enjoyed the feel of the yarn while knitting and adore the sheen when it catches the light, but it is rather a splitty yarn.  That said, I am already planning to use it again as it's such an excellent value for the yardage and fiber content.  Of course, there is the fact that I still have 2 more skeins of the navy blue left in my stash.

     Yes, I am already off planning a new project.  Yay!  I love the planning stage.  My wardrobe lacks any summer short sleeve sweaters or dressier tops so my plan is to next knit Tegna by Caitlin Hunter to fill that gap. Tegna is a swingy oversized short sleeved sweater which consists of a lacework hem, stockinette body, dropped shoulders (I been seeing these everywhere on knitting patterns lately) and snug short sleeves.  My 2 skeins of navy blue yarn will not be enough to complete the pattern, but then I thought of adding stripes to the stockinette sections and I think it will work out.  I landed on the colorway called fawn which is a warm light brown shade.  The lace, neck edging and sleeve edges will be knit solely in fawn and the rest of the sweater will consist of narrow 2 row stripes of navy and fawn.  I think it will look smashing!  So, I have purchased two more skeins of Charlemont from WEBS and now am anxiously awaiting the mail.  After having downsized my stash I was a bit loathe to buy more, but it will help lessen my stash in the long run.

     This method of first accessing my wardrobe to see where there are gaps, second to view my stash to see if I can make what yarn I have on hand work, then third picking out a pattern is how I plan to go about my knitting in the future.  In this way I am hoping to only make what I feel I need and not just getting pulled in by a the latest patterns excellent photography/model/yarn and making something that doesn't suit me or my lifestyle.  I'm hoping to slow down my knitting and I think this method will help me do just that.  Why am I wanting to slow down my knitting you ask?  Well, I've decided to get off the producing treadmill and focus more on the enjoyment of the project in and of itself.  Because really, what's the rush?  I'm not a designer with deadlines to meet.  I've gifted so much to my mother that she has told me to stop knitting her sweaters.  My own closet is already pretty full so I don't need much more.  Why speed through the knitting simply to have something new to photograph?

     This documenting of knitted products I find good in that it's enjoyable to see your past knits and your progression as a knitter, but I think it can cause stress too.  As much as I enjoy Instagram I feel it is one of the culprits of this stress to produce more so you can share new photos of what your working on and thus feel part of the knitting community.  It's this feeling of more, more, more that I want to rid myself of , instead focusing on that I have enough already and I'm only refining my wardrobe here there.  Do you know what I mean?

     To keep myself in check of accumulating endless amounts of yarn for endless amounts of projects I found that I have to miss out on going to fiber fairs, knitting shops, knitting retreats and classes.  This leaves me sometimes feeling like I'm missing out, but I know myself too well that I can't just view.  If I view, I want, and if I want, I buy.  Then I feel the push to knit faster and faster in order to get through all that yarn.  It's time to stop the madness.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Some Knitting


     Hey there.  I thought I'd pop back in for another entry to tell you how things are going.  Basically, it's better, not great yet, but waaaayyyy better than where I was in early Spring.  I believe we found the right mix of medication and certainly having a wave of beautiful sunny days which had me walking my dog around the neighborhood is helping too.  Getting out and moving my body has been really wonderful after our long snowy winter when people just gave up shoveling their sidewalks as we continued to have snow until the end of April. 

     The question then is - is my creativity coming back along with my better mood?  Well, yes albeit much slower.  I did purchase this lovely skein of naturally dyed yarn to tempt me into knitting, hoping to turn it into a lightweight summer scarf with this pattern, but it is not what's calling me back to knit.  What is speaking to me, oddly enough, is my bag of sock yarn scraps.  The rather clean slate I accomplished by selling off most of my stash was not enough for me.  So, I decided to knit up my sock yarn scraps, leaving only a small bag of bits and bobs for sock darning, to shrink my stash even more.

     Over the years I've started and stopped a lot of scrappy knitting projects.  Do you remember when "hexipuffs" were all the rage as well as the mitered square blanket?  In the past I've started both of those patterns, but lost interest and drive along the way.  They were basically too epic.  Having a penchant for scarves, I decided to try this very simple linen stitch scarf as the way to use up all my sock yarn.  The means with which the slipped stitches blend all the colors really appealed to me.  There was the hurtle though, of the humongous amount, 500 in total, of cast on stitches (this scarf is knit lengthwise instead of the usual widthwise.) It took me a few days to complete casting on all those stitches, as well as a kind husband to check on my counting skills.  Finally, I got to the fun part of trying to blend the yarns in some aesthetically pleasing manner.  In my first attempt, I switched yarn every two rows picking a contrasting colorway each time.  This method turned out a bit muddy looking.  So, I switched over to grouping the yarns in like colors i.e. there might be 10 rows of blue, then 8 rows of yellow etc., this method made the colors stand out and shine much better.

     I'm knitting a bit each day, but only for short stretches.  There is no hurry.  After all, it's now Spring and the weather is warm.  I might not even keep this scarf for myself as I have enough cozy scarves for Winter already.  Luckily, my local knitting guild takes donations for charities each year so it will find a home with someone who needs it.

     This brings up an interesting topic which I think about often:  how do creatives create with out amassing huge amounts of knitting, clothing or whatever your end product my be?  Now, I believe creating is vastly important.  For me, it's an actual need and I feel a hole when I go long stretches without making something.  But, when does it become too much?  Have a bit of a think on this and I'll talk about it more in my next post. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Not Knitting

     Hi lovely people!  I've been vacationing on Instagram, but felt like to coming back to blogging as I miss this space for simply writing.
     There has been a struggle within me these last few months with my depression and my creative life.  I've been sailing along quite well for many years with my regime of medication, counseling, exercising, using a SAD light, seeing friends and trying to eat healthy.   Then I was derailed this past February.  It was a subtle shift.  A slow decline that I did not notice was happening until I was no longer interested in knitting.  Not interested at all.  I was not physically knitting, planning new knitting, reading about knitting or listening to knitting podcasts.  It all seemed so pointless to me and when I felt that, I knew something was truly amiss.

     Now, my depression is pretty severe and not of the situational type, but I'm really, really good at pretending everything is fine, even to myself.  My doctor had no answers as to the "why" this was happening to me, but I am of an age of hormonal changes, and she said frankly it just happens.  So, on to dealing with it.  New meds were ordered, then rejected and yet a different medication tried.  It's like being a rat in a lab, doctors truly cannot predict what is going to happen. You need to try the drug out yourself and wait and see.  As your mother always told you - everyone is different.

     Meanwhile, it felt like the end of who I was as I so heavy defined myself as being a knitter.  If I wasn't a knitter than who was I?  Where was my personal identity?  I had no idea.  I started going though all my knitting accoutrements hoping to jog myself out of this rut.  When I got to my stash, it felt wrong to own so much yarn if I wasn't going to knit with it.  Thus began the great selling off of my stash.  Now, stashes vary quite a bit so to give you a sense of the size of mine it was stored in ten Rubbermaid plastic bins. At first it was hard to take in all that I had, list it on sites such as Ravelry and Craigslist, putting a price to my precious stores but, then I started to feel good about what I was doing.  It was like shedding a old skin, an old life.  Currently, my stash consists of only a one gallon sized Ziploc bag of sock yarn scraps and two smaller bins of full skeins.

     Sitting with what yarn I had left I realized how much more comfortable I felt.  There wasn't the crushing weight of years of knitting waiting in the wings.  It was a fresh start.  I kept those last bits of yarn hoping I'd find my way back to the knitting world and my old life.

     Yet, I knew I could not go completely back to my old life of knitting all the time.  The cycle of acquire and consuming at such a fast rate.  Being now unbalanced emotionally I could see how unbalanced I was in my day to day life.  So, I started to remedy this imbalance by watching movies with no knitting in my hands, reading instead of listening to books that kept my hands free to knit, walking in the garden I started so many years ago before knitting entered my life.  I observed there was more to my life than only knitting and there was more to me than just being a knitter.

     I'm making my way out of my hole both emotionally as well as creatively.  I have high hopes for the future, which for me is big thing.  My future with knitting, but also including the other things I enjoyed and sadly forgot about along the way. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Yarn Along - Cheating on My Knitting

 Sleeve number one for what will be my new Spring Cardigan.

Now, I'm not a monogamous knitter, but I was really hoping to be with my Branches and Buds sweater.  There is only a sleeve and about 4 inches of body to go, but the dark navy blue is dragging me down after so many cloudy, dark days in a row.  I resisted as best I could, but that meant I wasn't knitting anything at all, which is bad.  So, I succumbed to the CoBaSi plus yarn in my stash in it's beautiful bright shade of indigo blue.  The pattern is for a cardigan called Silver Creek by Andrea Sanchez.  Maybe going from a sweater to a sweater is not the smartest move.  Maybe knitting up a quick accessory would be the thing to do, but I actually need some sweaters so here we are.  For once I am using the yarn called for in the pattern and got gauge bang on nose with the recommended needle sizes US 7/4.5 mm and US 8/5 mm.  The larger needle sizes are lulling me into the belief that this sweater will fly off the needles, as my Branches and Buds sweater is on US 4's. Time will tell.

This pattern is pieced and sewn together at the end of all the knitting.  I think this will play in my favor as finishing each section of the sweater can be an accomplishment in and of itself.  They have you starting with a sleeve knit in the round.  Now, I like DPNs but I get ladders, not between the stitches spanning the gap, but from 2nd to the last stitch on each needle that gets pulled out of shape i.e. I pull too tight.  I just can't seem to get the right tension.  Since I don't want ladders running up my sleeves, instead of DPN's I now use ChiaoGoo's 12 inch circular knitting needles.  I simply love them!  This solution wouldn't have worked it this was a full length sleeve, but being a 3/4 length loose fitting sleeve it was perfect.

This week finds me again without a book of my own so I will write about the book I am reading to my son.  It's called Time of The Dragons by James A. Owen.  It's from the Teen Fiction section of our library, not so much for content I think, but for the writing which can be challenging at times.  The book is quite a hefty tome at 772 pages, but the action is such that my son's interest hasn't waned in the least.  There is a lot of history and historical literary figures, mythology and legends used as well as his own vision of course.  You could spend a year with this book, which is the second in the series, looking up all the references.  In fact, we did spend quite a lot of wikipedia time on the 1st book as well as watching all the Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio movies (my son didn't like watching Disney movies when he was little what with the parents always dying off in the beginning and all.)  My only real complaint is there are no female characters, even in the background (the first book did have 2 female secondary characters.)  Just men, men and more men.  Even the talking animals have all been male.  This doesn't bother my son at all, but I find it incredibly ridiculous seeing as we women make up half the planet.  It's just a book of course, but you can bet I did point this out to my son.

Well, that's that for this week's very belated Yarn Along post.  I wish you all a relaxing weekend. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's All About The Planning

 My small stash of Shetland Spindrift for my Fair Isle Knitting class at this year's Yarnover Event.

There's a group I belong to on Ravelry called Pre-process Yarnies.  They are knitters who love the planning of projects possibly more than the actual knitting itself and tend to get themselves into trouble by acquiring too much yarn and more patterns than they could ever knit up.  Loosing themselves down the Ravelry rabbit hole for hours on end.  Does that sound familiar?  The hope of these knitters is to have more yardage go out, in the way of completing projects or selling yarn, than comes in over the course of a year.  It all started with the group leader's blog post which you can read here.
The leader has developed a great Spreadsheet to help the group members track their progress oddly called The Spreadsheet of Doom. It helps you track the yardage of the yarn you knit up, bought and sold (as well as fiber and spinning if you are so inclined.) So far mine spreadsheet numbers are abysmal as so much yardage has gone into my stash with my local yarn shop closing.  Also, since I am in the midst of a large knitting project I have only been able to add 2 small projects to my finished knitted items column.

To help get me an accurate picture of what I have on hand I dove into my stash (yes, again) and pulled all the yarn I haven't yet photographed to get them listed on my Ravelry Stash page.  I do love this process, the organizing and cataloging, as well as just tossing the stash to say "hi" to all those beautiful skeins of yarn.  It was a pretty enlightening.  My stashed yarn listings went up quite a bit more than I expected.  Remember this photo?  Well, imagine adding 3 more of those tubs and you have my current stash.  I'm going in the wrong direction folks.

The yarn budget now has only one fourth left with less than one month of the year gone, but the stash looks like about 3-4 years of solid knitting.  I have a lot of sweater quantities which got me to thinking of a challenge for myself:  I am going to try to knit and complete four sweaters this year.  Basically a sweater per quarter.  Definitely doable don't you think?.  Probably there will be a little room leftover for sock and accessory knitting too, at least that's my hope.  A girl doesn't want to get too sweater crazy right?