MIA, the Knitter’s Edition

It happens to knitters. We lose precious knitted items. It sucks.

I lost a hat that was part of a scarf and hat set when I went to Ireland about a decade ago. It was knit long enough ago that I don’t really have a good photo of it because it was pre-Ravelry. Fortunately, I remembered exactly which Irish pub in Dublin I left it in, called them up and they said they had found it. So I sent along a 20 Euro bill to the pub for them to send it to me. But it never cam back.

If I hadn’t had the scarf and really enjoyed the pairing, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But every time I look at the scarf, I think about that dang hat!

Fast forward to last week, and I managed to misplace a shawl. Not just any shawl, the one I made out of the leftover stash bits, which I blogged about. The shawl that I wore every couple of days this winter. The shawl around which I crafted a sermon on the lessons of knitting and applied them to ministry. This shawl:

It’s been gone more than a week now, and I’ve tried to not make a big deal about this. I’ve searched here at the church, but it hasn’t appeared in any normal locations. The one location off-site was a taqueria that is down the street, but it wasn’t open on the weekend when I could check, and today I realized that it has shut down completely.

Keeping perspective: this is a first-world problem. It’s not the need for the item to keep me warm – I have plenty of shawls.

But within the shawl were memories of other projects that I have given away, and this shawl was keeping them alive. It makes me sad that I might never see it again.

So, knitters, have you had an item go MIA?

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Number 3

As I’ve mentioned, I’m in the middle of knitting 3 sweaters – and it looks like they will all be small-gauge ones. The Sara Lace Cardigan 2.0 was at a sport-weight gauge in fingering yarn. The current one, the Fancy Cardigan, is the same deal, with lot’s of face (what was I thinking? the recipient needs a summer-weight loose sweater). And now I’ve decided on the third sweater pattern and yarn (in consultation with the intended recipient), and at least for this one, it should be a faster knit with a DK weight yarn at a worsted/aran gauge. The pattern is Savanna by Sheilie Anderson:

Savannah

It’s a lovely simple clean-lines pattern. The intended yarn was pricey – it would cost over $140 just to knit a short-sleeve sweater, which is not the budget I had in mind. Fortunately, WEBS is having their anniversary sale, and I was able to snag some Hempathy at a good price, so all is well.


The yarn came in about 3 days, and since I am still working on the second sweater, I may swatch, but that’ll be it until this second one is done.

Last Saturday was the National LYS day, and I decided to go to a store that I had visited once before and really enjoyed, A Yarn Less Raveled. I wore my new sweater:

This was a field trip, and it was a lot of fun. Mindy has a great store and staff! Because my yarn stash overfloweth, I didn’t buy any yarn, but I did get some goodies:


I had been eyeing the knitter’s Pride pin blocks for a while, so I got a set of them, and also the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary – the color knitting boom right now makes this a great addition to my stitch dictionary library, and I already used one of the sheep patterns on a charity hat:

So fun! I’m also doing other hats in my leftover stash, and will soon have a bag to either give to my friend for the hospital, or take myself!

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FO: Sara Lace Cardigan 2.0

I’m officially 1/4 of the way  through knitting 4 different sweaters in the planning mode. Today I can celebrate the completion of the second Sara Lace Cardigan that I knit for myself.

The yarn (well, one skein), started out life as part of a kit that Rosemary Hill and A Verb for Keeping Warm sold at their 2015 Stitches West booth. I needed another skein of the yarn – Even Tinier Annapurna, which I bought this year at stitches.

It was immediately obvious that I had an issue with the different color lots. They were quite different, and as the sweater progressed  it became obvious that there is a real tone-on-tone striping effect:

I decided that I would keep going and to the best of my ability match up the stripes, and decide what to do with the bands and edges once the body of the sweater was complete and I knew how much yarn I had left. At that initial point, it was a real possibility that I’d need to incorporate a completely different color way into the sweater.

Then I realized as I finished the body of the sweater that instead of 3/4 or full-length sleeves, this sweater could be short-sleeved for warmer weather. The light-weight nature of the yarn and the color made this a lovely idea, and it turned out that there was plenty of yarn to finish the sweater.

I chose the darker of the dye lots to use for the bottom edging and bands, which turned out well:

Since the front bands don’t have buttons or button holes, I wanted to make sure that the edge doesn’t get wavy and loose – I think that’s a fatal messy look on many cardigans. Here’s my trick when you don’t need stretch on that edge: k1, *k1, pass 2nd stitch on rt needle over the 1st stitch, k2tog, pass 2nd stitch on rt needle over the 1st stitch*

This tightens up the edge and makes a clean line of “v’s” all the way around. For this sweater, I used this on the diagonal line all the way to the shoulders, for the back (where I need the full stretch of the neckline ribbing) I did the conventional bind-off, and then switched back to the method for the diagonal down the other side. Voila! It’s a magic way to get a professional finish with the stretch where you want it.

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Toppers

I found out from a knitting friend that our local hospital loves to get knitted things for infants and children. Love this! So I’m going through my scraps to make cute hats. These are out of a lovely very washer-friendly yarn: DY Choice in the Baby Joy DK. The two colorways have speckles!

All three had pompoms as you can see in the bottom photo, until I washed them and one came out. Didn’t have enough yarn to re do, so I improvised something fun, because a baby hat without a fun topper seems naked to me.

Here’s what I did: using a knitting needle and crochet hook, I did a provisional cast-on (crochet method) of about 25 Stitches. Put down the hook (or not) and then conventionally bind off all the stitches with either the hook or another knitting needle, leaving a long tail. Knot the resulting length about three times, then take the two tails, thread a darning needle and poke through the top of the hat and secure the ends. Voila!

Time to find more yarn scraps to knit!

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Synchronicity with the yarn whisperer

in which Clara Parkes and I have a mind-meld experience with a yarn.

Since I am on this sweater kick, I decided to go ahead and swatch for the one I am making for Allison – my cousin’s daughter who is having a baby later this month. We agreed that I would make her a Fancy Card – an overlapping cardigan that can be flexible for size when one is dealing with a postpartum body that will be nursing.

The yarn is new to me: Holst Garn Coast – a lovely wool/cotton that namoriwesa on Ravelry used for a test knit of this pattern (project link – only Rav members can see). I ordered some from The Yarnery and it came licketty split. Then it sat.

On Easter evening, when I woke up from the extra-long pastor nap, I started swatching to Jesus Christ Superstar (omg, it was such a great production. You don’t have to be Christian to love it!). It’s a dry yarn, and not a lot of twist, but it knit up easily – although it looked pretty holey even though gauge-wise I was ok.

It says you can machine-wash gentle, cold water, so I threw the swatch in for a warm-wash short cycle (live dangerously!), with a cold rinse. It came out a completely different yarn!

The resulting fabric is soft and drape, yet cozy and with some halo – absolutely lovely.

And just as I was thrilled by my discovery, the yarn whisperer aka Clara Parkes, posted about the very same experience. We had pretty much the same opinion, she writes:

"I love yarns that surprise you in the wash. They make the whole knitting experience much more fun, forcing you to wait until the final blocking for the big reveal."

I’m now pondering a DK-weight summer cardigan, using the yarn doubled – I might even use two different colors held together? I know, yet another sweater.

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It is risen (the dough)

Last week was Holy Week, a big week if you are a pastor, like I am. Things went well!

Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed!

Monday, I took off as my reward for being busier than usual – and while I initially had plans to wander to Santa Cruz, I woke up somewhat low energy, so I didn’t, which is a luxury too. Instead I wandered through Guadalupe River Trail – which cuts right through San Jose, and it is the site of where the first Europeans put down their stuff and started interacting with the Ohone people.

Some photos:

What I am not showing you is the fact that because we have terrific housing shortage in San Jose, and extremely high rents, we also have a large homeless population. The City doesn’t like this, and they try to do things like tell churches not to give out food at public parks because that encourages them to stay there (there are not shelters with oodles of spaces around, where are they supposed to go?), although they will not arrest church people for doing that because it’s a really bad look for a city that wants to be seen as progressive. Anyway, the homeless who are trying to find a little peace camp out along the river. I get it, and to be honest, I felt bad seeing their tents, like I was intruding. At the same time, I was wary when I met the mostly alone guys who look like they’re camping on the river. But I was alone, and I didn’t feel like I could take the chance to do more than a simple acknowledgment of their presence.


Dough news: I am back making sourdough after about a 3 year hiatus. I dropped making it when I moved to Fresno, because I didn’t plan ahead to bring my starter with me (you can travel with it, generations have, I just didn’t know I could). In the years since then I had the leg issue which cut down drastically on my cooking, and now I’m back in the Bay Area and it felt right to start again.

My first loaf was kinda sad:

Yeah, pretty flat, and the taste was a little off. I ran through a couple of more cycles

and this most recent loaf showed me that I am back to my previous sourdough skills:

Maybe not coincidentally, that loaf was made the day after Easter!

If you’re interested in how I do mine, I’ve combined some techniques from these website pages – it’s really not that hard once you get the hang of it!

Sourdough Baking Basics

Exploratorium Museum Basic Sourdough recipes

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Bending to the siren song of sweaters

I haven’t made a sweater in a while – in fact, other than a shell I made that didn’t really turn out all that well, it’s been over a year!

There have been a couple of stall outs along the way. I bought a bunch of Miss Babs Yowza to make this cardigan from Knitty, called Wisteria, because it was a triple-threat for me: a cardigan, with set-in sleeves and a shawl collar (!), but after looking at the Ravelry projects, it turns out that many people had trouble getting their sweaters to fit, so it sat for a long time, and I decided to frog it and think a while.

Then I got the idea to make Copperplate, a lovely top down, set-in sleeve open front cable pattern, and I was going to make it part of the Ravellenic Games (aka the Knitting Olympics. I even copied all the pages of the pattern in the lovely book by Elizabeth Doherty, but other than putting everything into a project bag ready to swatch and start (my previous swatch was on gauge), well, nothing has happened.

In the meantime, I started thinking about the people for whom it is worth it to me to knit sweaters (a stunningly small universe because of all the time involved). They are all relatives, in case you wanted to get in line. Ha-ha! I told my cousin Marie about this – and she said she wanted a drapey kind of sweater, which is fine. And her daughter, Allison, who is due to have a baby next month, will need a sweater than is flexible size-wise.

And then I had bought that sweater kit with yarn I wasn’t using, so I needed to find something to knit for me as well.

In the deep dive into my pattern library and the general Ravelry contents, I’ve come with:

  • knitting another Sara Lace Cardigan for me – I really liked how the first one worked. My skeins of yarn are two very different dye lots, so I am alternating every two rows – there’s a slight stripe-effect, which I am ok with. Current progress: finished the yoke and working on the body…

  • knitting a Fancy Cardi by Joji Locatelli for Allison – it has fronts that can drape or be over-lapping, which seems to be the best for flexible sizing and nursing coverage. The yarn I’m going to use is Coast by Holst Garn. I love me a wool/cotton blend, and since this is washable, it’s good for a new mom(have yet to swatch). It’s also very reasonably-priced, so if I like it, I’m going to get more of this! I’ve also considered knitting this pattern for myself too – we’ll see once I’ve knit this for Allison. Here’s what the yarn looks like:

Either of these patterns would be possible for Marie, but I’m seriously considering the Hitofude cardigan because I think it would flatter Marie’s cute figure, and it looks good on people of our height. I’ve made two of them, in quite different yarns! We’ll see, I don’t have yarn yet, so this is theoretical at the moment.

So, what sweater patterns are beckoning you with their siren song?

 

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What did I do with those Stitches purchases


Going to Stitches can be an overwhelming experience – it is a sensory rich event, with yarns of all textures, colors, fibers and weights squished into one humongous room for your buying pleasure.

My early attempts at purchasing yarn there definitely had mixed results. I bought a really cute baby sweater kit that turned out great, and the pattern is still one of my go-to patterns. Other times I would get home and realize I had fallen in love with the color of the yarn but had no earthly idea of what to do with actual yarn. Sometimes it took many years to figure it out.

I like to think that I’m better about using the yarn I buy at yarn shows, but let’s take a look at what I bought in 2015 at Stitches West.

Photo:

In this photo, up at 12 o’clock, and going clockwise we have: a gradient yummy 2-ply mini-skein set from Miss Babs, Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (yum!), a couple of random mini yummy-2-ply skeins to add to the mini-skein set, a skein of Anzula Nebula, a skein of fingering weight rainbow yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts, and a sweater kit bag from A Verb for Keeping Warm with 4 skeins of Even Tinier Annpurna yarn, plus a pattern, and a shawl pin.

Total amount of yarn – probably about 4,000 yards. While I still love all the yarn, the reality is that in 3 years I’ve only used a fraction of it, but I now have specific plans for much of it!

What I Did Use

  •  a gradient yummy 2-ply mini-skein set from Miss Babs and a couple of random mini yummy-2-ply skeins to add to the mini-skein set

It took a bit of figuring out, but on my trip to Paris and Munich I ended up making an On the Spice Market Shawl, subbing out a couple of the colors of the gradient

I went with the bottom set of colors, minus the variegated yarn:

There were some leftovers that are bagged with a couple of purchases from the most recent 2018 Stitches awaiting inspiration (new stuff shown):

  • Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (yum!) – eaten within days if I held to form. Yes, I have absolutely no resistance to them
  • a skein of Anzula Nebula – This past fall I finally broke into this loveliness for a shawl, Ametista, that’s part of a pattern club from Janel Laidman called the Armchair Traveler’s Club. I still have leftovers from it, so someone else will get sparkly yarn!

Future Plans (This year!)

  • a skein of fingering-weight rainbow yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts:

I’m surprised that this has marinated in the stash this long. It’s really fun and makes great socks (except I probably wouldn’t wear them, and I can’t figure out who would). The longer term plan was a baby thing, and since there is a baby on the way, perhaps its use is coming very noon.

  • a sweater kit bag from A Verb for Keeping Warm.The big yardage was in the sweater kit which was an end of the day impluse purchase. There was a lovely kit and sample from two of my favorite vendors: Rosemary Hill and A Verb for Keeping Warm, and I talked myself into thinking I’d make the sweater, which really is better on taller, more straight bodies, and not the shorter, curvier body I actually have.

I did start knitting the sweater, but bogged down pretty quickly. So, at this Stitches, I bought another skeins of the olive green yarn, and will probably make a flow light cardigan out of the color ways. The yarn is wound, stay tuned!

Overall

Well, I managed to knit about 1/2 of the yarn, which isn’t too bad considering the major error on the sweater kit. Hopefully I get through that yarn this spring and I’ll be doing better.

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Needles and Blades: the Ravellenics

The Blades

I might like figure skating a whole lot. Ok, I’m one of those superfans. It’s legal in most states, thank goodness.

You can imagine then, how seriously I take the Winter Olympics, which has not only the for individual competitions that we get every year – mens, women (aka Ladies in the US), Pairs and Ice Dance, but also something that began in Sochi four years ago – the team event!

In a way, it’s like getting two competitions in one. The top ten countries battle it out against each other, which means that many (not all) of the top contenders skate first for their team.

By one week in to the games, I was exhausted from watching skating literally every evening. But so much drama and a lot of great performances.

The Needles.

I’ve participated in every one of them and have all the pins to prove it.

This year, I signed up for three projects with Ravellenics: baby booties, short socks, and a cardigan.

Shortly into the games, I realized that I didn’t have the bandwidth mentally to make the cardigan. I’m always adapting the patterns to fit me, and I knew it wasn’t in the cards.

The baby booties you’ve already seen and only took two days to finish:

and then I finally used some commercial Yarn I bought in Munich on my trip in 2016. I love the colorway:

The pattern is a heel called the Thumb-joint hat-top heel from Sock Architecture. It’s actually done as a fore-thought heel and works nicely with variegated yarns.

That’s it for this year! Next stop: 2020 in Tokyo.

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Stitches West (by Light Rail)

It’s been three years since I went to Stitches West; the last time was in 2015. In that adventure, I took 2 classes, had lunch with friends, and still did major financial investing in my fiber future. Wow!

This year, after a 2-year hiatus living in Fresno, I had the opportunity to do Stitches West as a true local – I got there by the VTA Light Rail this time. I literally live about 3 blocks from a station on the right line, and the VTA drops you off across the street from the main entrance to the convention center. It took about 45 minutes, but that’s time spent gazing in the distance and strategizing for the marketplace.

Yes, this year I didn’t take any classes, partly because lot’s of thing had been filled, but also because I feel like I want to live out trying some of the techniques I’ve learned in the past. Even though I arrived an hour after the marketplace had opened, there was still a hefty line to get the 1/2 price tickets with coupons, but it moved quickly and it was fun to chat with those next to me. One woman was attending her first Stitches ever, so I tried to give her first-timer advice.

It reminded me that my first Stitches was over 20 years ago while I was in seminary, and the event was at the Oakland Convention Center. Since then, I’ve attended a number of them, in the past decade it’s been like every 2-4 years, mostly because there are now other yarn events that I’ve gotten to attend, like Vogue Knitting Live and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck).

Just before entering, I spied members of my old knitting group – they had already gone through the marketplace and were heading to lunch already. They looked great!

Having taken a couple of years off, it’s always interesting to note the changes in the marketplace. Yarn Barn from Kansas is now MIA, the WEBS booth is a fraction of its former size, and Knit Picks had a booth with their higher-end yarns. But there were some new to me vendors, and a lot of familiar faces.

One essential stop was at Miss Babs, where I got some Yummy 2-ply – a full skein in a charcoal color, and some mini-skeins:

And I found some organic cotton in a gender-neutral color way for a future baby sweater:

My good spindle dealer vendor Ken at KCL Woods had a new set of spindles could not be ignored:

and my purchases were complete with some odds and ends – a couple of shawl pins that I wear with my open cardigans, a small travel LoLo bar in lavender, some stitch markers for a friend who couldn’t come, and a deal on highlighter tape.

A final humorous note about my return trip on VTA. I sprang out of my seat at my stop, went just onto the platform when I realized I forgot the bag holding my purchases. Fortunately there was time to rush back to my seat and get them out before the doors closed!

Coming soon: What did I do (or not) with those 2015 Stitches purchases. I’ll review the photo, talk about the projects finished and frogged, and about repurposing.

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