Other Ways

This year, with my right leg still in recovery mode (yes, it’s getting better, very slowly), I passed on going to fiber and knitting expos this month, which means missing both Madrona Fiber Arts  (which is on my bucket list) and Stitches West (which has been an easy commute  for years – and now a little longer). That’s not really a bad thing, as last year I went to both Stitches West and Vogue Knitting Live, and have the yarn in the stash to prove it. In fact, I have plenty of wonderful yarn that I’m excited to knit. I may still go to Vogue Knitting Live in May, as it is a fairly easy drive, and I can see family and friends down there too.

But seeing beautiful yarn and accessories is only one of the attractions of these events – I love to learn new things at them too. Fortunately, my local knitting guild is all kinds of awesome, and they contracted with a knitting teacher, Vera Sanon, to come to our guild to teach various ways to knit Top-Down sweaters; the guild footed half of the bill on top, plus there was no conference overhead to pay for, so the class was about a third of the price it would be if it were at a big name conference.

And we learned a lot! I’ve knit a few top-down sweaters, mostly for babies and I think one for my mom, I haven’t been wild about the usual construction – called raglan – which is best for athletics builds with no boobs. I look better in set-in sleeves, as do lot’s of women, and we got to learn a bunch of ways to do them. I also loved her warning us about certain construction methods that have downsides too – so we don’t pick patterns that will lead us to tears. There should be no crying in knitting!

The other plus with Vera is that she also lives in a warm climate so most of her sweaters are out of fingering and DK weight yarns – knit looser for drape and to keep cool. Here are some of her beautiful sweaters:

IMG_0811

What a table of gorgeous knitting. And this is a back detail of a sweater that I am itching to start, called the Sara Lace Cardigan (rav link), which, if you do short sleeves, can be knit out of one skein of lace-weight yarn:

IMG_0812

I’ve got the perfect yarn from last year’s Vogue-knitting event to use:

image

In the meantime, the fronts of the cardigan I’m knitting for my cousin are now done, and conveniently, I can apply what I’ve learned in my class to knitting the sleeves top-down. The fronts of the cardigan are the feature with a twig and leaf in relief. Even Izzie was impressed:

image

image

Along the way, I am also knitting socks for Afghans for Afghans. It’s a great organization, and we are knitting baby hats and baby socks for a maternity hospital in Afghanistan. Join me, won’t you? Our group on Ravelry is the best, and we list a bunch of free patterns to use. Baby things like these are terrific for using up odd balls and leftover partial skeins of yarn!

IMG_0810

Download PDF

Beginning 2016, and what Renee knit in 2015

Ok, so it’s January 4th, and I’m lucky to get the holiday today, although work is happening here at home, I get to be fairly informal about things (shower to come later, lol). The housecleaners came today, and it is always like magic that after an hour and a half they leave it sparking and clean for me and the kitties. So, that is a good start to 2016.

My fall into grace (the literal version): A less than graceful start for me was yesterday in worship. I was just finished communion and about to put the last plate and tray of juice cups onto the communion table when I managed to miss the step down to the table, and let us say that things went flying! Fortunately, I did manage not to break any earthen vessels – but the plate went flying, I went down on one knee, fortunately my head and other parts of my body missed the deadly-heavy communion that can only be moved by four strong folks.  I was so totally surprised I stayed down, and probably worried the heck out of the congregation. A few guys came up to see if I was ok (sorta) and a deacon cleaned things up briefly, and I was given a stool, saying “Wow! Is everyone awake now??” and we proceeded through the rest of the service briefly.  The same deacon who cleaned up the table had ice packs for me by the close of the service, and a few folks came up to tell me their own stories of public falls. Such a grace-filled community I am blessed to serve!

This morning I have the already in pain right leg and the left knee is now sore and swollen – feels like a bad bruise. Sigh. Maybe God is telling me to just slow down already. Fortunately the hands are free for knitting and crafting!

I’ve also tallied up the knitting for 2015, and the stats are a little different this year:

  • total yardage (new tally): 17,340 yards (approx)
  • socks – 14 pairs (gifts and charity for the most part)
  • sweaters – 3
  • shawls – 9 (4 from Ysolda’s shawl club)
  • hats – 4
  • cat things – 10 (9 fish cat toys and one cat bed)
  • necklaces – 24

image

  • knitted knockers – 40 (for the charity by that name)
  • cozy for iPod – 1
  • charity knitted bag – 1
  • dishcloths – 21 (gifts for many in my life)

image

with the same general theme – most of my knitting goes to others, although two of the sweaters were for me, which I am totally ok with.

I don’t set knitting goals as that is the place in my life that is fun and not structured, so it will be interested to see what unfolds over the next year! The first FO for 2016 is:

Oh! Valencia socks – The color is great, and the lace pattern is stretchy but not too holey:

image

Download PDF

It Takes One to Know One

In my current congregation, there is a couple – he a Rev (Paul), she a quilter (Ursula) and an amazing fiber artist – who I am glad to get to know!

They stopped by this week to give (unexpected) gifts, and they are lovely. First up, a lovely throw with the building of my seminary, San Francisco Theological Seminary, woven into the fabric. The Rev (Paul) was on a fundraising committee for my seminary a number of years ago, and he got his as a thank you – but since he didn’t attend the seminary, it’s been in a closet. Usually I don’t like branded stuff, but this is well done, and features lovely historical buildings of the campus. My friends from seminary will recognize the buildings.

image image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

image

But that’s not all (as they used to say in game-show-land! Ursula also made me a bag – something that crafters always need~

image

The lovely thing about this bag is that the designer created this free pattern for sewers to use, on the honor system, that they not be sold – only given away. Ursula, of course, was using up some of her stash to make this, just like any good crafter will! My crafting eye quickly saw a couple of lovely details:

image

The handles are reinforced where they meet the bag (for strength), and those are french seams – a couple of lovely fine-sewing details to what appears to be a simple project.

Lovely gifts from a crafty and her spouse to another crafter!

Download PDF

Giving It Away

Recently, an acquaintance asked if I would knit her something that she had seen in a photo. It was innocently asked, but I had to make my usual reply: I don’t knit on commission. And suggested she might want to learn to knit! She took it well!

This encounter reminded me of my own approach to knitting. I knit for a lot of people, including women and children and babies in Afghanistan, schoolchildren in an underserved area of Maryland, and breast cancer patients recovering from surgery. I knit for  family and friends who appreciate the value of my knitting. I even knit for pets (although it’s usually something really fast!). I would venture to say that 3/4 of my knitting is given away to others.

But there’s a difference between giving it away and being paid to make it. When it is my gift, I have a particular intention with the giving, and it’s on my timeline, almost all of the time. Usually I start the holiday knitting way ahead of the date, be it a birthday or Christmas, so I’m not up at the last minute trying to finish something instead of spending time with the folks.

Giving it away also keeps me free for knitting things I want to knit. Unlike Irish and Scottish women of the last century who knit like the wind to support their families, my knitting is my hobby, even if I do sell a few patterns online. Because my profession is almost always intangible (writing sermons, visiting folks), I love the material-rich textures and colors of fibercraft. And then there are the mental health reasons to use needles: Happiness is a Needle and Thread Away.

I’m just now at the tail end of knitting a good spell for others – after all, holidays were coming. These are the latest things coming off the needles:

First up, a shawl called Artesian by Rosemary Hill, knit in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the Baltic colorway. It’s a simple concept executed extremely well – nary a purl stitch to be found, and consists mostly of garter and simple mesh lace with some short rows thrown in. Project notes here.  Yes, a gift, but not for Christmas (this person doesn’t celebrate it anyway).

IMG_0497 IMG_0498

I also finished up a pair of Christmas socks, the last pair, and of course they were for the largest feet in my family. LOL. A basic ribbed sock recipe from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley. I really like this colorway of the Cascade heritage Handpaints – works well for guys, but with more depth of color than a solid.

IMG_0493

The last project is a hat/scarf combo for a special young girl who loves, loves, LOVES pink and blue, and the brighter the colors, the better. I improvised this hat and scarf in brioche stitch, so it will be extra warm and has that cool reversible effect. I knit this out of an inexpensive acrylic/wool blend that is very soft and machine washable.

There was an issue with the pom-pon. The first one I make was huge! and it turned that because the yarn is somewhat slippery (acrylic, I’m looking at you!), it fell apart on me. So, I had to go with a more modest pom-pon, and hope for the best!

IMG_0494 IMG_0495

Now, there are only a couple of more presents to make – neither of which should take much time, so it’s time to knit for me again. The last shipment of Ysolda Teague’s 2015 Shawl Club should arrive in a week or so, that will be perfect timing – can hardly wait to see what’s coming in an early Christmas present for me.

Download PDF

Grounded

Over the past three months, I’ve been coping with a leg issue – which I haven’t really talked about, because, you know, privacy.  It started in late August, and after a few days, I figured out that it was probably due to a condition that I knew about before – a kind of non-cancerous tumor in my leg – that you don’t do anything about until it causes you trouble.

The short of it is that it appears that trouble has arrived, and I’m exploring with specialists what to do about it. Fortunately, I have excellent medical insurance, so last week I visited UCSF Mission Bay medical center. The nursing student who did my intake stuff says his professor calls it “The Emerald City” – it is certainly spanking new and hi-tech and soft green windows in multiple buildings of medical excellence:

image

The other thing I got out of the appointment was this:

 

image

which is precautionary to make sure I don’t make things worse for now.  Although it is better than using crutches, it makes me feel a million years old;  lest I get too depressed about this, I hastily add the for now. (Remember that I managed to get a cool certification to teach aqua boot camp at the beginning of the year? Feels like a long time ago.) In a few weeks I’ll consult with my specialist (my nickname for him is Dr. Fancy Schmansy which cracks up the staff there because he is probably God to them) and we’ll figure out what to do. He sees patients like me all the time, which is great.  But it has taken 3 months from knowing there’s a problem to getting to the guy who can fix it, all the time trying to work out the pain/foggy dynamic of pain meds that make me comfortable.

Here’s what I know about pain that I didn’t know before: it takes a lot of energy to cope with pain. It saps you, and then when you are in pain, you don’t think that you’ll be able to take care of business because – pain. When you’re not in pain, you are calculating the pain-cost of various activities. Here’s an example: should I go out tonight (meaning no pains meds because that makes me foggy), then suffer the fact of more acute pain going to bed, meaning I take more meds and wake up with foggy brain? I’m coping, but that’s all that it is. And waiting, waiting for what’s next…

Perhaps it is appropriate to be in a time of waiting, as the season of Advent in the Christian calendar is right around the corner. I’m in that time of waiting too.

Now, onto fibery goodness!

The Dictionary of All Knitting

I finally broke down and bought the dictionary of knitting:

image

The price is going up $20 in the next printing, and I don’t want to pay that much more. I do buy hard copies of books for knitting, especially reference books. If there’s a deal to get the e-book too, I’ll buy that as well. Here’s why I buy physical books:

  • so much easier to browse them (although I haven’t cracked this one open yet)
  • full size photos without zooming in and out
  • always there whether or not my device is charged
  • I “really” own this “book.”

This last point might be lost on a few folks. When you “buy” a Kindle book, it’s really a long-term rental. There are a ton of conditions and terms of use for that Kindle book, while with a “book” you just plain own it and can do what you like with it (not copying for others, of course). I don’t have to worry that any heirs will have access to the book, or whether the software will become so outdated that the book ceases to function, or if my device fails I can no longer access my book.

How do you buy your knitting books today? What have I overlooked?

Projects

I think I am onto my last pair of socks for Christmas knitting, and of course they end up being Size 12 Mens. That’s a lot of knitting! I’m doing a basic 3×1 rib sock (essentially the basic ribbed sock from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley). By the way, if you have sizing issues with your socks, check out the  Ravelry forum Kate Atherley Designs – there’s a terrific thread on sock sizing and Kate weighs in frequently!

image

The baby set is done and washed and dried and delivered. Turns out the baby is small for its age, so Jason might be wearing the set a lot longer than I thought!

image

(sans baby)

I’m working on a semi-surprise for a friend, Artesian shawl (rav link) by Rosemary Hill, which is an asymmetrical shawl with garter and mesh lace. Not on deadline, thank goodness.

image

I just heard that Ysolda Teague is sending out more of the yarn I need to finish the Osebury Rock scarf/shawl, so I will be working on that again and see if I can make enough progress that it is a short hop to finish it before Christmas. That will be the last knitting deadline for this year!

Download PDF

Finishing, WIP-ing, and RIP-ing

There’s been a fair amount of fiber-related work here at Casa del Revknits since I am mostly staying off a leg to prevent further injury til we figure out what’s up. It roughly falls into three categories.

Finishing

The Christmas knitting continues apace – I’ve knocked out another pair of socks from Kate Atherley’s new Custom Socks book. Any serious sock knitter will want this on their shelves, as the author deconstructs sock sizing, sock versus shoe sizing, and fitting the unusual foot. It’s quite perfect, as one would expect from a technical editor  (she techs for Knitty.com). If you have weird foot to ankle circumferences, narrow or wide heels, have a tough time fitting your foot, this is a great book. In addition, the instructions are really, really clear!

I adapted a pattern from the book called Wellesley – altering the cable to work better with the variegated yarn that was in my stash.

image

I also “finished”some yarn – it started out as polwarth wool and silk 50-50 merino top, from Into the Whirled, purchased two years ago at Rhinebeck. I had spun the single on my KCL multiple shaft spindle, so I made a two-ply plied on my trusty 2 oz Schacht spindle. The fiber is the one on the left…

IMG_1914Unfinished yarn:

image

And after soaking, twacking, and hang drying:image

This is a laceweight yarn, about 600 yards. Ivwill probably be used for shawl, I have to show off the beauty and drape of this yarn!

WIP-ing

Yes, there are some WIPS (works in progress), neither of them a dishcloth. The Osebury Rock Shawl is on hold – an odd thing occurred with this project, which is part of Ysolda’s 2015 Shawl Club. While I can’t say enough good things about this club there was a small hiccup for this project. It turns out that many of the knitters, including me, are running out of one of the colors despite it being test knit ok. Because it is Ysolda and she is fabulous, she is working to resolve the situation instead of just leaving us to hang trying to make do. I hope to sign-up for next year!

image

I have a new WIP because a pastor in my congregation has just taken on two foster children with her husband, one of whom is a small baby, so I’m making the Buttons Cardigan in a lovely varigated DK Regia yarn. This is my go-to pattern for baby sweaters, and with the washable DK yarn, it’s perfect for a busy mom. I hope to finish in the next couple of days, and make a matching hat as well. The chill in the air has reached Fresno!

image

RIP-ing

I am saying good-bye this week to one of my hand knits – a pair of socks out of A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Creating yarn. It’s very soft and lovely, and the socks have been great, but I have come to realize that 100% soft wool, such as this beautifully dyed 100% merino wool, doesn’t hold up in wear the way that merino-nylon blends do.

The brown yarn is a previous patch in wool-blend yarn, but now there a big hole below it. I’ve now mended these a couple of times, and it’s time to move onto to new socks!

image image

Download PDF

Why Ravelry is my Knitting Bestie (in a virtual way)

I joined Ravelry.com all the way back in the summer of 2007, having heard about it on Brenda Dayne’s Cast On podcast. I’m apparently Raveler #5154  out of more than a couple of million account holders today. You could say I was an early adopter (for once)! Although by that point I had found a local knitting circle and yarn store, and learned about on-line knitting resources such as the free online knitting magazine Knitty, the creation of Ravelry truly has changed my knitting life for good.

Through Ravelry I have met wonderful people in person as a result of Ravelry, discovered amazing projects, finally created a knitting project notebook to track what I knit, and become part of a community that spans

It also makes my current projects possible, things that would not have happened at all in the pre-Ravelry era.

Take my latest project, a lace shawl called Linken. It began with the purchase of the yarn – a lace yarn called Ombre Lace by Freia Handpainted Yarns in the Lichen colorway. I bought it in August while I was in Western North Carolina. See?

IMG_0249

I just love the yellow with the gray!

I had this yarn in my mind for a Christmas present, but I didn’t have a pattern. So I went looking on Ravelry – first in my library of patterns for shawls and scarves. I found some possibilities, but wasn’t sure, so then I searched on the yarn, and that particular colorway, and there were many different good choices, including this, this and this.

Then I saw that the Linken pattern had been test-knit in my yarn, and I already owned the pattern – a double plus. The reason I own the pattern is because the designer, Romi Designs (Rosemary Hill) has been able to create many pattern and pattern and kit clubs through Ravelry to build her independent knitting design business.

IMG_0372

That was just the beginning – it turns out that this particular shawl has a repeatable section, so that one can repeat a particular section more (or less) times depending on the amount of yarn you have. And here I managed to score another Ravelry win – two people, including the test knitter, had not only knit the pattern in my yarn, they had also kept track of their yarn usage as they knit, so I could track my knitting and yarn usage against theirs, in order to maximize my use of the beautiful gradient.

In the old, pre-Ravelry days, I would never had access to this information, and been able to figure out that I could squeak in two more repeats into the shawl. The amount of yarn leftover after casting off — 2 grams of a total of 75! Yes, it was cutting it close, and I could only do so with the information provided by the knitting hive-mind of Ravelry.

IMG_0375

Two grams of yarn left.

In addition, when I discovered some small glitches in the pattern (one chart symbol not explained, for example), I searched in the community forum thread for this pattern, and got an answer to my question. In the end, a wonderful shawl, previewed and researched by the community before I even started. For more details, check out my project notes.

IMG_0371IMG_0374

And most importantly, Izzie, who noticed that the yarn matches both her fur and her eyes, has given her feline approval:

IMG_0377

So, Ravelry, thanks for continuing to be my Knitting Bestie, I trust we’ll have many years ahead of us!

Download PDF

Finishing

Gosh, it’s been ages since I’ve blogged. Partly it’s the getting into new rhythms part, partly it’s that I’ve traveled three times since moving, and now I’m coping with a leg thing that has to be dealt with. In other words, life. Yeah, first world problems for sure!

Along the way, I’ve seen a lot of beauty:

Up at Lake Tahoe:

IMG_0098

In Sonoma County at the coast:

IMG_0212

Montreat, North Carolina (near Asheville):

IMG_0233

and I’ve even gotten all the things up on the walls in my new apartment:

IMG_0256 IMG_0255

IMG_0254

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, there are a few pesky boxes that still need to be unpacked, but I am feeling at home in my new world for the most part.

 

 

 

 

 

Knitting and spinning wise, there’s a sense of completion after a summer of slogging.

One non-slogging thing was my opportunity to teach some knitters how to make the knitted necklaces at the Sheeper Than Therapy knitting guild. I was nervous teaching over 20 knitters how to make the necklaces, but it went ok! And then the women’s group at my church has a fall boutique fundraiser, so I’ve been making a couple of them a week to sell.  I blocked a bunch of them, and sewed on buttons from the amazing dumpster stash I got for free:

Button stash for free!

IMG_0096

Necklaces for Fundraiser:

IMG_0261

The knitted knockers group is cool, and I was part of stuffing a lot of them last month:

IMG_0190

and I’m making bunch more, even though my pastor colleagues think this is pretty weird.

I finished another shawl from Ysolda’s shawl club, this one is called Crockern Tor with a lovely loopy crochet edge:

IMG_0172

And the yarn for the next one is waiting for me to start (Izzie is impatient too!)

IMG_0199

There is some secret knitting happening and finishing up!

IMG_0263

and I am just finishing up a sweater called Gisela by CocoKnits – aka Julie Weisenberger. I think I’ll like the sweater, but the process of knitting it was not very fun.

   
 And speaking of finishing up, I also am adding to the stash with souvenir yarn from Black Mountain Yarns in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Lovely store, and it is important to support the LYS, even if it isn’t your LYS. She had a couple of locally dyed yarns:

IMG_0251IMG_0248

 

 

 

 

 

 

With several things finishing up, I’m planning on plying some singles that I spun while I was preparing to move, and working on a couple of Christmas gifts. Shhh, don’t tell!

Download PDF

Shawlicious

IMG_0573

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been knitting mostly shawls while throwing in a couple of socks here and there. It started with knitting Marin by Ysolda Teague almost twice. Still it came out lovely and drapy, and is winging its way to a friend in need of prayer shawl (merino, silk and cashmere should be comforting).

IMG_0408

Marin in Zen Gardens  Serenity Silk Single – Ooak Wild Fiber

Then I joined Ysolda’s shawl club this year and got to knit a completely opposite yarn – hearty, hairy, woolen spun loftiness:

IMG_0568

Stac Shoaigh in Blacker Yarns Soaz Bronze

The third shawl was from stash, deep stash, as it turns out, in a bright punchy spring green sorta-solid. I added beads in the way that the pattern suggested, made it less circular than the pattern talked about it, and I really, really like it! Airy, blingy, springy!

IMG_0569 IMG_0579

Indian Feathers in Scout’s swag fingering – Citronella

And the last one I’ve knit was a yearning that I had for at least a couple of years. I knit a Sherilyn shawl (again by Ysolda) in the amazing Rayon Metallic by Blue Heron for a friend who’d just lost her father and her uncle. It came out really well, and ever since I wanted one for myself. Now I do, in just the perfect colors for me:

IMG_0576

Sherilyn in Blue Heron Rayon Metallic – Deep Forest

All these shawls are done, and now I’m onto knitting the sweater kit from Rosemary Hill – but first I have to get gauge~Yeah that. Already down two needle sizes and not sure it’s enough!

And then, there’s the fact that another installment in the shawl club should be coming shortly. Uh-oh…

 

Download PDF

FO: iPod Touch Felted Cozy

As it turns out, the iPod Touch Cozy was a very small update on my original iPod Nano cozy pattern. Basically this is the change: instead of casting on 42 stitches with Judy’s Magic Cast On (21 stitches on each needle), I cast on a total of 50 stitches (which, by the way, was a kind of mistake, because I had intended 54 stitches). It totally worked. Here’s the cozy before felting:

 

IMG_1711.JPG

Felting: I put into a pillowcase and tied it shut, then washed in cold water with some other clothes into the wash cycle, then pulled it out after repeating the initial agitation (but not the full rinse and spin cycles) and popped into the dryer with a towel until dry (checked it along the way) and it came out a perfect size!

See?

IMG_1712

IMG_1713

Download PDF