Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Paper Moon, Blue Moon

I spent some time with my stash over the past week. I had to have a few Come to Jesus conversations with myself. They went something like this:

Do not be ridiculous. It is literally impossible for you to not have 600 yards of a laceweight yarn you like. Look at the laceweight yarn you own. LOOK AT IT. It's beautiful!

and then:

You spend half your waking life complaining about your inability to avoid purchasing variegated skeins of sock yarn even though you know it's hard to find a pattern for them. How can you now say you have no variegated sock yarn that would work with this pattern? HOW?

In the stash is a lovely skein of Pagewood Farm Alyeska sock yarn in the Vineyard Blues colorway. They've discontinued that yarn base, but they still have the color on other bases. 

The problem, if it can be called that, is that it is only 360 yards. That makes me nervous I'll run out of yarn before I finish a second sock. Remember this? I live in fear of it.

The answer is a toe-up pattern. I've had Paper Moon in my mental queue since it was published in 2011, but I kept putting it off because I don't enjoy toe-up patterns like I do cuff-down. Clearly, this was a toe-up sort of skein. I wound it into two 50 gram balls and plan to knit each sock until I run out of yarn.

Paper Moon Socks (mine ravelled here),

I honestly can't remember if it took three or four tries to successfully get the toe started. Someday starting a toe will be easier. That day is not today. At one point, Andrew, a nonknitter, stopped, stared, and said incredulously, "Are you doing toe up? WHY?" Man, I love him.

Regardless, it's now started and I'm excited to finally make myself a pair of Paper Moons!

I'm not the only one who has projects they want to make that take five years to get started for no apparent reason, right?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Stripy Grays

My stripy gray socks are finished! I washed them yesterday and was thrilled they were dry so I could wear them to work today.

Stripy grays in my normal 3x1 ribbed pattern (mine ravelled here),
knit in the very sensible Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades in Blue Striped Ragg

I first saw this colorway on Glenna C's website here. I fell in love immediately. The fact that it's a workhouse yarn such that I could make a pair of socks for around $12 strengthened my love.

They're fraternal twins.

I could have done an afterthought heel to preserve the stripes, but it didn't seem worth the effort since I wasn't trying to match them to one another. These will get a ton of wear. They're subdued enough to wear to work, but colorful enough to be cheerful. Despite the name of the colorway, I consider these gray socks, not blue.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Knitsonik Mitten #1

I've knit my first Knitsonik mitten. As a reminder, I started with this inspiration:

Chose this palette (ended up not using the yellow):

Figured out some charts, and then started to knit.*

Some things really worked, and other didn't so much, but the whole point of swatching in this process is to play around and see what works and what doesn't. This is hard for me, but probably really good for me, too. 

I couldn't accept that the swatch would just be decoration, so I took a risk and knit the swatch as a mitten.

I think one of the sections that worked the best was the cuff. I did a double cuff. The inside is plain brown, because all gardens start with a base of brown dirt. I knit approximately 20 rows of plain brown, put in a purl row, and then started the patterning. When I'd done the same number of patterned rows as I'd done plain, I folded the inside of the cuff, held the two layers together, and knit them together on the next round. This is not as easy as I make it sound, and my cuff's a bit wonky. It wasn't wonky enough I needed to rip, so I didn't.

Anyway, the pattern part of the cuff is inspired by the path in the photo.

The circular flowers are the pink flowers from the back, right side of the photo. The green vine and leaves represent the abundance of green foliage.

The stars represent the balloon flowers. The heart I added because I needed a small motif for the decrease portion of the mitten, and I'm kitschy and adorable like that.

The section that really didn't work is the green/mist section between the stars and the circular flowers. The outline is done in the light mist color, and I think it was just too light to show up properly. Still, that's what experimentation is for.

I contemplated the thumb for awhile. My first inclination was to match it to the mitten exactly, which means I would be changing colors every couple of rounds. For a 30-stitch thumb, that sounded like madness. Not only would I have a lot of yarn ends that would bulk up the material of the thumb when I wove them in, but I thought I might lose the will to knit before I reached the top of the thumb. Instead, I used the same pink (blush) for the whole thumb and just switched the background color once. I feel fine with the way it turned out.

A surprise for me is how much I love the palm! I think it's beautiful. This is the same pattern I used on the Swirly Mitts 2.0.

I'll make its mate soon, but perhaps I'll allow the sting of that many ends to weave in fade a bit before I do.

*This would look better blocked, but I'm not blocking it until I have its mate finished. Use your pretend eyes and imagine that it's blocked, please.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Quick Surgery for Talamh

I knit myself a Talamh back in 2012. Like many people who have knit it, I found the neck to be too boat-like. I mean, there's a boat neck, and there's falling off my shoulders. This was falling off my shoulders. 

Carol Feller wrote somewhere that you could use single crochet to make the neck smaller. I kept thinking that I should figure out how to do that.

Yesterday I decided I was never going to figure out how to do that, and there was probably an easier way for this crochet-challenged knitter.

I took a loooong piece of yarn, threaded it onto a taperty needle, and ran a line of yarn on the inside of the neck near the top. I cinched it until it was at a width that seemed reasonable, ran a second and third line a bit farther down the neck just to make sure everything was sturdy. That's it!

It's much better now. Andrew asked what I had done and then said he couldn't see where it was gathered. Hooray!

I'm wearing it today, and I like the way it fits much better. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lost and Found

On Monday morning as I was getting ready to head out the door to work, I went to grab my mittens.

There was only one mitten on the table.

That night, I checked more carefully. Did it drop out in the car and get kicked under a seat? Is it in my work bag? Have I worn a different coat recently? How many times can I check the same coat pockets before it becomes obsessive behavior?

It was gone.

On Tuesday, Andrew, because he is a saint, went to Target after work and looked through their lost and found. He walked the pond I'd walked around on Saturday, diligently searching.

It was gone.

I told myself the usual things: It's just a mitten. I knit it and loved it, but I love to knit and can make another pair. I'm planning to knit a pair for my Knitsonik project anyway. It's fine.

Lies, all, but what else could I do?

This morning, I was walking Dexter and looked down. My mitten! I brushed the salt, leaves, and bit of snow off it, and this weekend it will get a proper bath. (That didn't stop me from wearing it this morning though.)

It was on the edge of the road. I'd walked right over it more than once this week but never saw it. I know why. My brain is filled with Knitsonik information, and when I look at this:

I definitely see this.

It was hiding in plain sight.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Knitsonik: Charts

After choosing inspiration and taking my best guess on a palette, the next step in the Knitsonik process is to start charting.

Let's get a little bit real: I have many wonderful talents and qualities. However, I do not excel in visual learning. The idea of creating charts from scratch makes me feel sad and defeated.

Sad and defeated is not in the spirit of creativity and joy that Felicity Ford is trying to give me by helping me play with my knitting.

Preach on, Brother Voltaire. Preach on.

So, I searched the Internet and took motifs that I loved and put them in Excel. (I found it challenging because, again, not terribly visual.)

This I'll do in at least one shade of brown, to symbolize the path.

These feel like the pink flowers in the background (not the echinaceas--the smaller ones).

The white area I'll do in the light mist color.

These are for the purple, star-shaped campanula.

For some of the motifs, I see exactly how they connect to the photo (top picture here). For some, I don't. I don't have a great echinacea motif, for example, and I've decided that's fine. These charts make me happy. They feel like flowers to me. That's enough.

The next step is to resize them so they're all a factor of 64. Sadly, and I feel I should have prepared you better for this revelation, I lost a Dither mitten. It's upsetting but not a tragedy. 

It has made beginning this stranded knitting project more time sensitive. There's snow on the ground and I'm wearing store bought mittens.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


It's cold. And gray. I'm wearing my Farmer's Market Cardigan and Pelagia noctiluca socks, but they aren't enough to keep me from wanting to be in my pajamas in my bed with chocolate chip cookies.

It is February. And I have hit the point where it's just "head down, keep walking" and believe that someday it will be sunny again. I'm not yet to the point where I believe that peonies are just a figment of my imagination, but I'm close.

I've begun writing down quotes in a little book I keep in my purse. Today I wrote this, which came from the little tear-off calendar I keep on my desk at work:

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors.
Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny. 
 -Mahatma Gandhi 
It's an ambitious goal for February, but I'll try.

Stripy grays in my normal 3x1 ribbed pattern (mine ravelled here),
knit in the very sensible Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades in Blue Striped Ragg

This helps.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Knitsonik: Palette

The first step in the Knitsonik experiment is to choose an inspiration. Mine is this photo:

The next is to pick the palette. Choosing colors was trickier than picking the inspiration photo, but it was pretty fun. I happily spent a lunch hour comparing colors, cutting out possible shades and putting them together. I ended up with 12 colors. I'm not sure if that's too little/too much/just right in the Knitsonik world, but I suspect there is no wrong answer. Just right it is!
Click to enlarge.

First column: Mist, Blush, Fuchsia, Alfalfa, Grass, Safflower
Second column: Almond, Thicket, Sky, French Lavender, Urchin*, and Hyacinth
All yarn is Knitpicks Palette.

You're supposed to start with a Basic Palette, matching colors as closely as possible to the colors in the inspiration photo. Then you add Question Colors, which is a way to expand the palette and focus on the more nebulous aspects of the photo (texture, light). I think it's also an important way to expand the colors I'm using so it's not quite so literal.

In an ideal world, I would be comparing these colors using a swatch card. Here's the truth: I'd rather spend $15 on yarn than on a swatch card. Therefore, I choose to do my best based on images I see online, recognizing that this may bite me on the ass.  Risk acknowledged and accepted.

The part of the process of choosing colors that is most difficult for me is determining the contrast between the colors. If the colors are too similar in terms of warmth/coolness, they won't stand out well. If you'd like to see a striking example of this happening, I direct you to my teal/purple Fightin' Words Mitts. Unless I'm in bright light, these two colors don't show the pattern well. (See the bottom picture here to see--well, not see it best.) The two colors are too close tonally, I think.**

I honestly have no idea if I have enough contrast here. I also don't know how to figure that out, so I'm going to hope for the best. I like the colors themselves, so if any do not work for this project it can become something else somewhere down the line.

A friend gave me a Knitpicks gift card for my birthday. Purchasing the yarn for this project feels like a perfect use of it. Onward, ho!

*At the last moment, I took Urchin out of my cart and put in Chicory. It is my nature to overthink things. I'm fighting it, but... baby steps.

**I know very little about which I speak.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Knitsonik: Inspiration

There are two main projects residing in my brain that come up when I think about slowing down and really taking time to delve into the process of making something. One is to do the measurements and reading to figure out what sort of sweaters flatter my body type (using Amy Herzog's two books). The second is designing a stranded knitting project based on a photo/object that I love using the guidance of Felicity Ford's Knitsonik book.

The sweater feels like something I should do, and the stranded colorwork feels like something I want to do. Colorwork it is!

I'm determined to slow down and work through the process. First up: Find inspiration.

It seems like the logical place to go is my own pinterest page. I chose three images:

Dahlia 'Princesse Gracia'

 Perennial flower border 

My very favorite book

The dahlia is beautiful, but probably not right for this type of project. I'd need more elements--leaves, stems, etc. 

Both the second and third photos would work, I think, and both would be fun. The flower border has more obvious elements to work with, more colors, more shapes. I love the colors in the photo, so many blues, purples, greens, and pinks.... delightful. My guess is that I'll make mittens, and looking at mittens inspired by a beautiful flower garden will brighten a dreary winter day.

I'm excited! Next step: Picking colors.

Monday, February 1, 2016

One Step Closer

I'm waiting for more yarn to arrive so I can finished sleeve #2 on the test knit sweater, which means I have no need to feel guilty that I'm not knitting.

In celebration, I finished a pillowcase I'd been embroidering.

I realized this year that I needed*  a pillowcase embroidered with Christmas ornaments as well as a pair of great striped Christmas socks. I have yet to find the right colored yarn, but I'm confident I will.

This pillowcase is actually for a friend. I plan to make myself an identical one.

As I wait for my yarn, and once that sleeve is finished, I can put my focus on my new year's intention of not knitting so much, of giving myself space to rest and let ideas percolate rather than focusing on Getting Things Done.

And I realize I have no idea how to do that.

*I need them in the same way that I need dark chocolate.