March 24, 2014

Monday FO: Zuzu

Once I got my act together, which involved a few more rookie mistakes, the Zuzu Petals cowl by Carina Spencer zipped right along to the bind off.  The yarn is my own Cedar Hill Farm Company Eco (fingering weight) in the Maybe colorway.  I used about 1 hank for this project, maybe a little less, and opted to work the instructions in the pattern for the fingering weight with a US #5 (3.75 mm), 16-inch circular needle.

As you can see, the yarn did a bit of a tiger stripe for the stocking stitch, but then switched to a nice striping pattern for the lace.  I probably could have done this in a solid, but then I think it would have significantly less character.

When I reached the bind off, the instructions were to use a stretchy bind off instead of the typical knitted bind off, so I did the k2tog bind off that is used by Stephen West so often with his shawls, etc.  Here's a great video for that bind off in case you don't know what I'm talking about: My Favorite Stretchy Bind Off.  I'd totally recommend this pattern if you have a lonely hank or skein of something lying around that's about 250 yds. (fingering weight) and you are looking for something quick to do with it.

March 19, 2014

Before the Fall

There are patterns that are so complex that the veins in your forehead begin to throb just thinking about the number of yarnovers and decreases and twisted stitches that they must contain.  These are the patterns that only a knitting goddess could work without sweating it. Then there are patterns that are so simple that a beginner could master them with ease. In the middle are the patterns that appear to be insanely simple (oh yeah, I can knit that up today and be wearing it tomorrow!), but which turn out to be your knitting nemesis and you just frickin' can't figure out why!

Enter ... Zuzu.  It's a cowl that's really a very small triangular shawl that's really just four yarnovers made in the same places on every right side row.  It's a purled wrong side row.  It's not brain surgery.  Hell's bells, it's not even more than, really, knitting a dish cloth for most of the pattern.  Even the lace pattern is basic.  

So could someone tell me why in the wide, wide world I have ripped back 5 times and re-knit 4, only to discover that I've continued to make the same rooky mistakes, but in different places?!?  That's a rhetorical question because I really know the answer.  Pride goeth before the Fall, even in stocking stitch.  I looked at the pattern and said to myself on Tuesday, "I can have this knit up and blocked by tomorrow. This is super simple!"  I then proceeded to inadvertently SKIP right over the initial 2-row increase pattern repeat (all 48 rows of it) and attempt to join 7 stitches into a circle and didn't seriously wonder how THAT was supposed to fit over my head until I had worked a complete next round. (Rip back #1). That should have been my first clue that my knitting brain was a bit broken. 

knit the entire first half of the pattern before it occurred to me to count my stitches.  BIG mistake.  HUGE!  I knit 48 rows, which was actually 52 because I didn't notice the center increase errors, and only then noticed both of them after independent rip out and re-knit sessions. (Rip out #s 2 & 3).  I was sure that I had fixed my stitch count (which was 4 sts off, and I had only fixed 2), so I knit another 16  rows on the darned thing, not thinking to check my stitch count against a calculator because I can't add in my head, and still didn't have the right count. Then I noticed the missing yarn over on the right-side border. (Rip out #4). I knit another row.  Still off. I noticed the missing yarnover in the left-side border. (Rip out #5). Knit a row.  Now I'm thinking that I just can't frickin' count because I've fixed 4 increase errors.  That's 4 stitches.  Then I recalled having noticed during a rip out that I had somehow knit twice in one border stitch.  I'm still missing a stitch.  By this time I have ripped back 32 rows to a pitiful little triangle. (That's Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Eco in Maybe that I'm using.)

GUESS what row the missing yarn over belonged in? (Pause for guessing, but you probably already know if you are a knitter and have been punished for your own prideful moments.). That's right.  ROW ONE.  It was at this point that I decided that you can't really notice the missing yarnover and slipped in a M1. I counted out the correct number of stitches, and I am moving on, but warily.

Pride, my knitter friends, will get you every time!

So here we are, and after swallowing my pride, cheating with an M1, and counting EVERY stitch as I knit or purled them until I had the requisite 103, I have finished the first section of Zuzu, one hour and 17 minutes later.  The Seraphim sang sweetly (at least they were singing sweetly in my head) as I completed that last stitch and verified that I had, indeed, made it to stitch #103. And while there was only 3 snoring beagles around to share my triumph with, I feel incredibly accomplished for having completed such an incredibly simple task. (Yes, I am still in my bathrobe.)

March 17, 2014

On St. Patrick's Day: Bit O' Luck pattern

I know I should have probably gotten this out sooner, this being St. Patrick's Day and all, but who doesn't need a bit of luck all through the colder seasons of the year?

Introducing my latest pattern:  the Bit O' Luck Fair Isle Hat.

This pattern is sized for 3-6 mos., 6-12 mos., 12 mos.-toddler, and adult.  It's a simple 29-round pattern repeat that mostly relies on working 2 colors at a time (always the recommended method according to Elizabeth Zimmerman), but it does have a few rows that work 3 colors at a time.  This is not much of a trick if you use short stranding on the back.  This pattern has not been test knit for the adult size, but that's in progress so if there are any errata, you will find them here and on Ravelry.

This pattern is now available on Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy.

And to sweeten the deal today, use code GREEN at checkout for free shipping on all domestic orders with no purchase minimum.  Such a deal!

March 13, 2014

FO: Pi Shawl

Although the edging just about did me in, and caused me to use one more hank than I had intended for this project, my first Pi Shawl is finished.  I say "first" because, well, I already had a semi-circle lace shawl near design completion when I began this and it is, well, technically a lacey half-Pi.  But this one was quick to knit, right up to the edging that I think took me about 3 weeks to complete for the simple tedium of it--that's about equal to how long the entire body took to knit, I believe.  You have to watch out for that knit-on edging with this pattern!  The flip side is, since I knit it on, there was no additional tedium of sewing the edging to the shawl which, in all honesty, would probably have made this one of those "hibernating" type projects.

I elected to do a simple openwork lattice lace edging that turned out to be 3.5 inches, unblocked.  I didn't block the edging because I blocked the body of the shawl so that the edges made sort of an arch pattern all the way around.  This method, I think, has contributed to more of a ruffled look to the edge of the shawl, which I like very much.

It wears fabulously!

Total yardage for this project was about 1,000 yards and the finished diameter was about 54 inches, blocked.  For those of you who don't know about the dynamics of the Pi Shawl, this giant circle of fabric is folded in half for the purpose of wearing.  As a matter of a fact, this morning is sooooo much colder than expected (how did we go from 80 degrees F. 36 hours ago to 35 degrees F. this morning?!?) that I think I might wear it around today.

March 07, 2014


I'm also a bit too restless to make much progress on this Pi Shawl. 

Truth be told, it really should have been done by now; but after realizing that the edging involved 1,192 rows of knitting, the wind went out of my sails just a tad bit. I've been chiseling away at the border edging for the last two weeks, but I'm not even half-way around the damned thing.  I would like to be wearing it already.

I've also been fussing about the weird weather that always begins March. Between the Spring afternoon temps and the freezing early morning temps, plus the onset of blooming vetch and dandelions and plum trees, my sinuses are in a constant state of misery.  I feel like I have brain freeze 24-7.  On a farm, February is kind of a waste of a month.  It's too cold to start planting, even with our little green house because the overnight temps are still so frosty, it's too windy to feel like you can work outside constructing new structures or fences without getting frostbite on your ears or your eyes watering to blindness, and it's too cold for knitting on the porch.  March is, however, sunny and warms into the 60s but then drops down to freezing at night, and you never can tell if you've planted too early or too late until April arrives.  The chickens are fussy, too; some are laying, some are on strike.  The rabbits are burrowing into their straw to hide from the wind that never stops blowing.  The dogs are restless all night long, like they sense the coming of a storm.  Maybe they are just in tune to the restlessness of the coyotes and fox in the woods.  I'm restless about being inside so much and the future of my greenhouse seedlings and what's next for knitting and all the work that needs warmer weather to get done around here.  I have a laundry list of knitting projects to start and to finish, but none of them feels like the right fit right now.  It's right next to the list of spring cleaning that needs to get done, but which I just don't feel like getting around to doing yet.  It's that whole "waiting for Spring" thing, I guess.

I've been so restless these past two weeks that I've started cleaning out both the fiber and the yarn stash.  All of those trash bags bursting with projects remnants … either the tangles are being wound into little yarn cakes or they are going into the trash.  Acrylic leftovers, especially, unless it's mostly wool with just a smidge of acrylic or I can use it for charity knitting, are hitting the trash can hard. I've even organized the storage drawers according to weight and new vs. used hanks.  I'm down to a pile of acrylic on the office that needs to be wound for the knitting squares charity project that my knitting/crocheting club, Hooks & Needles, is doing or just trashed altogether, two considerably sized plastic bins--thought those are mostly organized already with everything bagged and tagged--and two trash bags of chunky acrylic that are materials for those super cute headwraps that I knit and sell in my Etsy shop. I should probably make it a point to knit more so as to free up some storage space in the ol' closet under the stairs.  I'm on the fence about the crate of yarn that I used to use to teach knitting classes at the Monroe Art Guild. It may become a charitable donation to a church knitting group, as I don't foresee a whole lot of time in the coming year for teaching local knitting classes, and it, too, is acrylic.  Yes, of course, I am saving sock yarn remanants for the Beekeeper's Quilt.

As for the fiber … I have plans to store it by type this week.  This would be about the first time ever that I didn't just stuff it into a box and worry about finding it again later.  I'm always surprised by how much raw fiber I actually have and I am always surprised at how little spinning of it that I do. Maybe spinning is what I should do for a while and give the knitting a rest.

March 05, 2014

On the small side

Sometimes I do little knitting projects, too.  "Little" as in projects for very little bodies.  I've been knitting tiny socks this past week or so, partly because I wanted some samples for the tables during my Mastering Magic Loop knitting class that I'll be teaching at the Alabama Fiber Arts Festival in April and partly because I have a friend with a new baby, and that baby deserves to have warm feet (one is never too young to begin appreciating the awesomeness of handknit socks, am I right?).

Gifts: These are all superwash merino in a 0-3 month size, so that foot is about 3.5 inches.  I chose ribbing through to the toe so that there is a little accommodation for growth spurts.

Samples: The green is done in my hand painted BFL.  I had a bit of this left over from the Urbanista gloves that I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas. The green is so green that it reflected back against the camera for the shot, apparently.  I love, love, love this colorway, and I think these might be a bit warm for a baby in March in the South, so I'll just hang on to these.  

The variegated are my Cielo DK (colorway: Stowaway). Since the weight is DK, the end result was a bit larger and something that will fit a 6-month old baby.  I used US #2 (2.75) for all of these socks and did them, per usual, 2-at-a-time; roughly 3 hours per pair from start to finish.

Honey has been suggesting that I'm never actually going to get around to knitting him a second pair of socks with all of this baby sock knitting that I've been doing, so I guess that I will have to cast on for his socks this week to prove him wrong.  


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