When in doubt, rip it out!

As you can guess from the title of this post, I hit the wall yesterday. I had been knitting for days with a growing sense that my projects *sucked* and should not see the light of day. The colors, fit or the overall concept was just off. I wanted to believe, really, I did. Yet, why knit something that won’t make you happy in the end? Pushing through on an unhappy project is probably always a bad decision.

Eclipse Knitting
Not that I’m an unhappy knitter. ūüôā Check out me (right) and my best knitting buddy Deb knitting through the eclipse last Monday.¬†

Yesterday morning I reached that magic moment (after texting Deb first) when I whipped out the needles from TWO DIFFERENT PROJECTS and then either put the knitted fabric into a corner to think about what it had done (a sweater) or rewound the yarn back into a ball to be re-knit (a sock).

Let’s start with the sock. I found this fabulous sock blank (I now think that sock blanks may be the best things since sliced bread…) and decided to play around with knitting a simple sock with a lace top.

Cuff of Sock
Sitting outside with MacKenzie I cast on a simple lace on one set of needles using yarn from the stash, began the ribbing for the sock with the blank on a second set of needles, and then joined them at the bottom of the ribbing. Cute, right? That sock blank is from Greenwood Fiberworks. Don’t you love the sparkles?

Right away I knew that things weren’t quite right. I make my socks in 2.25 mm needles with 64 stitches. Since the lace was a multiple of 6 stitches, I tried knitting the cuff with 66 stitches and then decreased to 64 stitches right before the join. The lace was a little too snug. The color wasn’t quite right. I kept looking at it and telling myself that it would look better as I got to the darker colors in the blank.

Sock
I’m almost done, and I still am not happy with the lace. It is too dark, and it doesn’t stick up enough, and it looked even worse on my leg as it was too snug. The color of the sock looks dull; it is that darn lace! I should have made the ribbing shorter. I should have made the lace whiter. ¬†Why did I use that blue yarn for the afterthought heel placement: picking up stitches will be a nightmare! I hated it.

To make things worse I made a mistake on the heel (too many stitches in that section that will be the afterthought heel) and when I got to the toe I found out that I had 6 more stitches on the top than the bottom of the foot. How did I do that? The whole thing was a disappointment.

New Sock.
Whap! I pulled out the needles, ripped like crazy and had the yarn rewound for knitting in just a few minutes. 

A hunt through the stash found some Bare Hare from KnitPicks that became the new knitted cuff, and this time I cast on 72 stitches for the cuff, and decreased to 64 stitches a couple of rows before the join. The ribbing is now shorter. The sock colors look brighter. I’m much happier with this look.

Good fitting cuff on sock.
Now the sock fits my leg perfectly! Here’s the project notes on Ravelry.

I also entered the unhappy zone with the Marled Magic Sweater. I was making lots of color changes and trying to channel Stephen West while I knitted. You know what, I need to be true to myself and I should knit using the colors and vision that I had when I bought the yarns that are singing the Marled Magic song to me.

Sweater in Progress.
Really cool, but I’m being overwhelmed by all of the color striping, and I don’t think that the yarns themselves are shining like they should.

These yarns are fabulous, but they are hidden by all the color changes. I mean, look at them. I love each one of these guys. They are bursting with potential.

Yarn
Aren’t these great? I pruned out the partial skeins and kept yarns that made this collection of rose, purple and blue with lots of gray overtones.

I pulled the sweater off the needles, put the fabric off to the side, and cast on again. I picked one yarn that I loved and one mohair to go with it, and I’m going to knit the whole first block with just those two yarns. Since the sweater is a modular construction I’m going to focus on balancing colors between the blocks to make this sweater shine for me. It will be great!

First block of knitting.
Now the subtle colors in this yarn can strut their stuff. I’m really happy with the block that is emerging. That mohair makes the fabric feel fabulous, too.

I’m happy and knitting like the wind again. I can’t wait to get to the second block of this sweater. I think I’ll use one of the yarns with a lot of rose in it with a silver gray mohair. Then I’ll go with a black yarn and purple mohair. This is a way to approach the sweater that I can deal with.

Mother of Cats Sweatshirt.
Look at what my niece in California sent me last week! I’m so happy. I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can wear it.

Cooler weather! In just another month there may be snow in the forecast.

Time to make the magic happen and to crank out that sweater! I am on fire and knitting like crazy now.

Have a good week everyone.

PS: As I type this I am watching the news coverage about the horrific natural disaster that is unfolding in Texas and Louisiana here in America. My heart is broken for all of those who are displaced and dealing with disaster in their communities.  Hugs to all of you who are affected by this, and stay safe.

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WIPs this Week: Marled Magic Sweater and More Jelly Rolls

I really dug in and worked on my Marled Magic sweater this week. So many colors. So many combinations. So much fun. Seriously, this is addictive knitting at its best with a big side of stash busting. I blogged about this project earlier and showed off all of the yarn I had collected to use in the sweater. I am now well into the second section of the sweater and I am feeling the magic for sure. This sweater is going to be great this winter and I am having a great time dreaming/knitting it.

Sweater in Progress.
The gray colored section at top is the first one in the sweater. I am now about half way done with the pink section in the lower part of the picture.

The sweater is knitted with one strand of fingering yarn held together with one strand of mohair. As the two are knitted together they create the marled look of the fabric.

Closeup of Knitting.
In the first section I used a single gray mohair from the stash with different fingerings that were mostly gray with pink and purple highlights.
Knitting Closeup.
In this second section I am using yarn that has more color in it and I am knitting it with pink, purple , and gray mohair. I am changing both yarn types as I knit to switch up the marl effect.
Yarn
Here are the yarns that I’m using in this second section.¬†

I’m have over a dozen different yarns in this section, and I have to lug around the box of yarns while I’m knitting. So… I admit it. I lost control. I cast on a small project that is easy to carry around to work on while away from home.

Sock
More Jelly Rolls socks!

I couldn’t help it. These yarns are in the bins that I’m using on the big sweater project, and as I dug through yarns to put together the combos for the second sweater section I noticed that speckled yarn. It was near the solid blue yarn, but there were those black specks in the speckled yarn too… ¬†I started to dream about how they would look as a sock combination. Cute, right? Here are my project notes with the yarns that I used for these Jelly Rolls. There are some other sock combinations calling to me already that I’m trying to ignore while I keep working on the sweater.

It’s just crazy to think that I would have only one project going at a time.

If I cast on ANOTHER sock I may need to go buy some more needles.

Oh, little things like that have never stopped me before! ūüôā

Have a good (knitting) weekend, everyone.

Embracing the Sock Blank: Part 2

It all started when I saw these sock blanks near the front door of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. So cute! Such happy colors! I had to have them.

Sock Blanks
See what I mean? Who can resist colors like these?

These are single-strand sock blanks dyed by The Hummingbird Moon, and I blogged about learning how to handle the blank to create TAAT socks that matched here. I learned a lot, loved the final socks, and had a enough yarn left over to make a pair of fingerless mitts.

Or… I could use that leftover yarn with the second sock blank to make a pair of Jelly Rolls socks. Oh. My feet totally need Jelly Rolls! They were practically chanting, Jelly Rolls! Jelly Rolls! Jelly Rolls!

Winding a sock blank.
I wound the second blank into a ball…
Sock being knitted.
…cast on, and started knitting. I’m using the left over yarn for the contrast color, and the second blank for the main color.
Socks
Here are the finished socks!
Finished Socks.
Because of the double rolls at the top of the sock they stay put on my feet just the way I want them to. 

I am so happy with these socks I’m fighting off an urge to cast on many, many more of them from the huge stockpile of leftovers from past-knit socks. The weather is cooler this week, there are birds flocking in the back yard, and my feet want socks. I can feel the pull of the fingering from the craft room even as I type this, but I am resisting the call.

I’m going back to knitting the Marled Magic sweater. It will be amazing! Stay tuned for further developments. ūüôā

Finger Protectors.
The larger needles for the sweater are rubbing against some calcium deposits on a couple of my finger joints (thanks, scleroderma…), so I made some finger protectors using a pattern¬† that I found on Ravelry. These babies work great. Marled Magic, I am coming for you!

Have a good week everyone!

Embracing the Sock Blank

Last month I went to the Estes Park Wool Market and scored some great additions for the stash; most intriguing were the sock blanks that I found in the Bonkers Handmade Originals booth. They were single stranded, so suitable for mismatched mitts and socks, or maybe for a little shawl. Hmm… ¬†I bought two of them.

Sock Blank and Mitt
You know that I had to cast on right away. Look, look: a mitt! I started knitting right off the blank and thought that the kink in the yarn would contribute to the funkiness. OK, the fabric is wonky, but I like it. It’s rustic, right?

I have to be honest here. As soon as I had satisfied my burning curiosity about how the yarn would knit up I stuffed the project into a bag where it languished out of sight for a few weeks.

Then I went up to Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder Colorado three weeks ago to get some more bobbins for my current weaving project and I saw these stacked in a pile of yumminess right by the front door:

Sock Blanks
Oh, my goodness. Look at those colors! These babies are from The Hummingbird Moon. You know that I was unable to resist casting on a sock right away since I am completely lacking in will power. Luckily I have several pairs of 2.25mm needles hanging out in my knitting bag.
Sock Blank
This sock blank was single stranded, so I knew that my pair of socks wouldn’t be an exact match, but after the first rush of knitting had worn off I took a better look at the blank to see if I could understand the dyeing pattern. ¬†Hey, look at that! The blank had been folded lengthwise at the midpoint and the two halves are mirror images of each other. There must be a way to get two matching socks from this blank.
Cutting the sock blank.
I cut the blank at the midpoint, pulled out a long runner, cut it off and I had the two halves separated. Easy, peasy. I wound the bottom half into a ball using my ball winder.  Because of the way the blank was dyed the yarn that I wanted to start the new sock with (the bottom of the blank) was on the outside of the ball of wound yarn.
Ball of yarn and the blank.
Since I had already started one sock from the blank I had to cast on the second sock off the ball of yarn onto ANOTHER set of needles (hey, I’m an addict. I have lots and lots of needles…) and as soon as I had the second sock (from the ball of yarn) the same length as the first one I transferred it to the needles the first sock was on.
TAAT socks and patient cat.
Bam! I now had TAAT socks going on one set of needles. As always, MacKenzie was supervising my work.
Socks
From then on I worked off the ball and my half-blank. Look at how well the socks are matching up. I want to mention that if I had figured out the dye pattern sooner I could have wound both halves of the blank into balls; to make matching socks the trick would have been to knit from the outside of one ball and the inside of the other.

I did run into some issues when I got to the heel gussets; I had to use an extra needle (one for each sock heel) to handle all of the stitches during the gusset decreases. Once the stitch number was down to a reasonable number I was able to transfer stitches back to the original needles and finished up with no problems.

Finished Socks.
These are the first TAAT socks that I have ever done. I just love them! This simple vanilla sock pattern is Dave by Rachel Coopey. My Ravelry notes are here.

Flush with the success of the socks I pulled back out the mitts that I had started with the first sock blank that I got from Bonkers. This blank didn’t have a reversed dye pattern so I just went ahead and made mitts that are complementary but not identical.

Mitts
Here they are. These two will play well together but aren’t perfect matches. The fabric is a little funky so I put them into the sink this afternoon to soak for a while to see if the knitting will even out. They fit well when I try them on, so I’m sure all will be well after blocking. I haven’t woven in the ends yet as I thought that might be better done after blocking. My Ravelry notes are here.

I still have two blanks to play with, but as of today I have absolutely no projects on my needles at all; MacKenzie’s WIP basket is empty again. It’s kind of crushing. I have the yarn for three sweaters all lined up, but I’m torn about which one to start on. Should I start the artsy Stephen West Marled Magic sweater that will be very labor intensive, or should I just go for the easy knitting of another drijfhout in a single color? Then there is the crazy colored yarn that I bought for that I See Spring sweater by Joji Locatelli…

Time to start winding yarn. Good thing I am a knitting addict with a lot of needles on hand!

The WIP basket is empty!

It took a month, but look at what has happened:

Cat in empty WIP basket.
MacKenzie has a new toy!

Yep. This is an event of such astonishing rarity it makes a blue moon seem common: every single one of the languishing items hanging out in the WIP basket has been finished. The basket is now empty. MacKenzie was all astonishment for at least 20 seconds before he moved in to make the basket his own. It took the whole month of May, but I now have all of my needles and stitch markers back where they belong.

Socks.
Arent these cute? I love the way the lace pattern switches on the socks to make a mismatched pair. ¬†It wasn’t too bad keeping the different lace patterns under control as a different needle is used on each side of the sock. This pattern is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey. My project notes are here.
Cowl
The moebius cowl that I was working on is also done. Like my model?
Stitch close-up.
Moebius knitting is really fun. I started with Cat Bordhi’s cast on and then knit from the center outward in garter ¬†and blackberry stitch that I had to modify a little to accommodate the circular ¬†knitting and my stiff hands. Because this is a moebius the right side has the “up” side of the blackberry pattern, and the left has the “down” side.
Cowl
When worn the shape allows the wearer to fold the cowl with the same pattern on both sides.
Stitch detail.
This is the same cowl with the other side up. I like them both. If the cowl is doubled up or worn draped around the shoulders both patterns show.

I took really good notes while knitting this time so that I can post the pattern in my next blogging adventure. If you want more info you can find my project notes here. That yarn is Tosh Merino DK in the colorway NIght Hawk. I was worried about how it would knit up, but I like the finished project.

I’m off to cast on a shawl using yarn from the stash and a pattern a friend gave me.

MacKenzie, get out of that basket!

Cleaning out the WIP basket

There is nothing more that I like than working my way through a big project. What can be more exciting than finishing that new sweater or gigantic, endless, Find Your Fade shawl after watching it slowly grow day after day, week after week from a pile of skeins to a beautiful finished project? The drama of the whole thing: is there enough yarn, will the colors go together, is my gauge correct, yarn chicken, and all the other questions and worries of the large project are part of the fun.  A little stressful, but a labor of love, each and every one.

So, it was a little bit of teeth gritting that I pulled out the basket of unfinished projects (UFOs) down from the top of the bookshelf a couple of weeks ago.

Basket
My goodness. Now I know where all of my knitting needles have been hiding out. 

I wrote about cleaning up the UFO pile a year or so ago and got trolled by people who hoped I was writing about aliens. Nope. I guess I should follow Ravelry’s lead and call them WIPs. Fine. This is the WIP (works in progress) basket.¬†It is full of smaller knitting projects that should get done in a couple of knitting days each. Check it out:

WIPs
There is a half pair of socks (I did cast on the second sock, but I still put it aside…), and three pairs of fingerless mitts.¬†
UFOs
I also found a scarf that was half done and a cowl that had just been cast one night when I was curious about how that great Night Hawk colorway from MadelineTosh would knit up.

Well, how long can all of this take? Time to jump in and clear the basket, I told myself. I pulled out the socks (hey, it was snowing outside!) and got started.

Yarn Chomp
MacKenzie helped as much as he could. 

Now, after two weeks of steady work and cat entertainment I am happy to report that I have made real progress. The basket is almost empty, needles and stitch markers are returned to their proper places, and I have gained a number of small knitted accessories.

Finished knitted items
Here they are. I have finished a shawlette, the socks, two small pairs of fingerless mitts, and a pair of long beaded fingerless mitts. 
Socks
The yarn in these socks made them turn out really cute. This simple pattern for a vanilla sock with deep ribbing at the top and a traditional heel is called “Dave” by Rachel Coopey.
Mitts
The long mitts are Akiko MItts by Sivia Harding and the short mitts are my own simple “Scleroderma MItts” pattern that I recorded in the project notes here.
Shawlette
The finished shawlette is the Riverbed Shawlette (this is MacKenzie’s favorite) by Grace Akhrem.¬†I wore it this week to my knitting group and it was quite a hit.¬†

Now I’m down to the last item in the basket, a cowl. Wow. I thought that this may take me all month, but I should have the basket cleared by the end of the week. Well, there was that one pair of socks that I couldn’t help casting on while I was working on the WIPs, but still, the end is in sight.

Excellent. I have some large projects all kitted up and ready to go.

Wait until you see these sweaters and shawls I’ve got lined up!

Have a good weekend everyone!!

Crazy Knitting

Yep, I am totally knitting on the wild side; I hit the stash last week and pulled out some Crazy Zauberball in the wildest, hottest colors I had. Sometimes you just need to have some zing in the knitting, you know.

It seems like¬†forever since I made something for myself. I made mitts to give to scleroderma patients, I’m still working on the PuppyPaca yarn for my friend Deb, and I have several more alpaca projects to finish for Alta Vida Alpacas.¬†Last week I kind of snapped, found the Crazy Zauberball, and decided to make some fun things for myself. Check out these little bed socks: fun!

Socks
This yarn is Crazy Zauberall, and it is so rewarding¬†to knit with. It¬†is pretty light weight and knit a little loosely in this pattern; perfect for bed socks. Then there is the lace… These¬†Om Shanti socks are from the Socktopus book by Alice Yu.
stuff
The heels and toes are knit with a short row technique that really made the toes strut their stuff. Ravelry notes are here. 

I have enough yarn left over to make a pair of mitts to wear in bed too. The colors of this yarn just make me happy. I will have to make the mitts for sure.

Mostly the gardening has been on hold this week. It has really warmed up over the last few days and suddenly roses started blooming. Here are the first ones to open…

Hot Cocoa
The Hot Cocoa roses by the front door are doing great. I covered them several times this spring with blankets supported by tomato cages between the rose plants. All the attention has paid off big time! As I was leaving for a doctor’s appointment I glanced at the front of the house and there was the bloom!
Home Run Rose
My Home Run roses by the driveway are now almost 3 feet high and suddenly they also began blooming. These guys will bloom all summer!

The backyard gardens are still jungles, but it rained hard last night so I’m hoping to weed out another flower bed tomorrow morning. How lucky that plants are patient.

Cat asleep on shawl
Kitty revenge can be quite a thing: MacKenzie still hasn’t gotten over the washing of his blanket. He spends very little time on it now, and has taken to sleeping on my “Waiting for Rain” shawl.¬†He’s so sweet I’m letting him keep it for now.

One Crazy Zauberball project just isn’t enough right now. As soon as the bed socks were done I grabbed another ball¬†and cast on another project just for myself.

Yarn
May I present the yarn for a Solaris shawl by Melanie Berg. The shawl is supposed to use 5 different MadelineTosh Unicorn Tails (in five different colors), but I decided to use this wild Crazy Zauberball yarn for the colored sections. There are at least 5 different colors in there; I can always pull off yarn to get to another color if I need to as the colored sections are pretty short.

So why did I snap and start the crazy knitting for fun? The truth is, I’m somewhat¬†miserable these days. For reasons I don’t understand June is the month when my illness decides to get particularity ugly on me. For the third year in a row I just feel pretty darn sick. My muscles and joints hurt, I’m dizzy, my gut is misbehaving, I’m running a fever, my arms and legs have developed edema… ¬†I got out of breath and had to use my inhaler while winding a ball of yarn last Wednesday at my knitting group. I’ve been in to visit doctors twice already this month, and really, there isn’t too much that they can do. I’m in a flare for sure. Mostly I don’t leave the house much, but I can still knit.

You see why I broke out the Crazy Zauberball? Bright happy colors that change quickly. How can I not smile while knitting lime green and deep rose? This month I totally need some knitted hugs of happiness, and Zauberball delivers big time.

Got to go. I’m at the part of the shawl where I start knitting in some crazy color. Bright purple! Woohoo!

Have a great weekend everyone!!