Let’s talk WIPS and I’m not talking the ones that would be used in 50 Shades of Gray, I’m talking about the pile of partially knitted items that are sitting on some flat surface in my house. It seems like they will never be done, I know they have to be done sometime but that’s really the problem isn’t it. When will they get finished? I can’t predict it, maybe I need a Magic 8 ball, so I could ask it I will have a new sweater and the new shawl.
I am trying to work on my Ashby and my AcornTrail and get them off the needles as fast as I can, The problem is they just are extremely slow going. Sometimes it’s not even the knitting portion that is slow going like on my AcornTrail I stopped and blocked all the pieces so I can see them together more easily and I can also pick up the stitches more easily for the buttonband.
Maybe it’s the fact that I get so easily distracted. That feature on Ravelry which shows patterns what patterns it thinks you might like is similar to showing crack to an addict. There are so many things I want to to knit. Everyday you see suggestions on what pretty colorful oems you could knit up. This is way more exciting than looking at my yarn covered living room and deciding which of my WIPs to pick up.
I’m actually making good progress now on my Ashby. I reached the mindless portion of the project. You know the part of the knitting projects where you can just “phone it in” you follow the directions once and repeat it’s like rinse cycle on the washing machine “Rinse repeat. Rinse repeat” this is my favorite kind of knitting. I really enjoy a good mindless knit it. It is a guilty pleasure of mine.
But as much as it is one of my guilty pleasures I got sidelined by my biggest guilty pleasure, a quick knit. I just finished at hat that was designed by Julie Hoover. I bought the pattern in Portland at Knit Purl, and knit it up in one day. I should say that I don’t normally knit things up in one day, there are caveats to the situation I was sick, it was an easy pattern, and most importantly I got to make the smallest size
I have been doing some test knitting lately. It is one of my goals for 2015. I recently had the opportunity to test 2 beautiful patterns. Its a “twofer!” I achieved one of my goals and got to knit 2 wonderful patterns. I think it is safe to say that the sweater goal will be met later this year (I’m still optimistic about the stretch goal:). There were a couple of weeks where I was signing up to test knits and KALs left and right (things are settling down now).
The first pattern, Bloemen is by my friend Ien Sie (A.k.a. kgmama on Ravelry). I am so excited for her to be designing again. She previously had a pattern published by Quince & Co. and she is dipping her toe back into designing. It was fun to test this quickly little knit, and I got to learn a technique I haven’t tried before the Latvian braid; who doesn’t love learning a new technique (Can you see me raising my hand at the back of the class going “Oooh me!!!!)? This is a great pattern, because in addition to options( you can do ribbing, you can line it, you can do a Latvian braid, and you can use as many colors as you want) it is a great pattern to use scraps. My yardage was a bit off because I deviated from the pattern when I picked my colors (Even the main color on my project used about 120 yard or less). It is fun to watch the colorwork take shape and paint a picture. I used a combo of the Plucky Knitter’s fingering yarns and opted not to line the cowl.
I promised this one to my daughter, but she has graciously allowed her grandpa to have this after he asked her for it. I can’t wait to see what Ien comes up with next.
The other pattern I tested is for Melissa Schaschwary (Aka Dandiliongrl on Ravelry) named Gideon. What can I say? I really enjoyed knitting this project. It is a really soothing knit. The yarn, which Melissa S. used for the sample is something I chose to copy for my project because Sweet Fiber’s Cashmerino Worsted is “Ahhh-mazing!” (especially in this pattern); luckily I had some in my stash (look at me work through stash, I am a machine:)). I just want to smoosh the shawl and wrap myself in it. I tend to knit for myself and my family (I can be the occasional gift knitter when I am not burned out), so when I saw the call for testers on this project I kept my fingers crossed because I wanted to knit this for myself, and getting to test it would be a bonus. I was excited to be chosen, and cast on ASAP. Since I was knitting in my Ashby in Shelter (another great yarn) getting to knit with the Cashmerino blend was like sending my fingers to Tahiti (Its sooooo soft!).
It’s funny to me how I can never predict what kind of reception something will get. I wore it at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival and that’s when I realized that people were going to like the design. As I was waiting to be seated for table at the Hotel Murano’s restaurant, a woman who was leaving walked towards me and literally missed a step and almost fell down trying to check out the shawl (I am happy to report there was no knitter injured, as she was able to catch herself mid fall). Things like this normally don’t happen, but it was kinda like a perfect storm, because I was surrounded by fiber enthusiasts left and right.
A few Jennie the Potter ceramics purchased from friends at Stitches West
Acorn Trail Custom Fit ( I am really moving on this)
I’m sure everyone has had those moments where they wish they were a better parent (It’s not uncommon). My latest motherly guilt comes from not knitting more for my daughter. Last year she requested a pink sweater. I happily obliged quickly knit her the “Mini Rock Rose” cardigan( I’m not really a person with a passion for pink, but it’s what she wanted). It is a really clear and well written (although it looks intimidating) pattern. I was able to knit the whole sweater in about 10 days (I really can’t remember). She didn’t wear it immediately but know she has to wear it everywhere. In fact we get in to arguments about her wearing it. Let me clarify even when I try to be a good mom and wear a warm coat when it’s cold she insists on wearing it all the time. I am glad she loves it. I mean I used to “hate” when my mom sewed my clothes. I wanted store-bought all the time as a kid but we couldn’t afford it.
So after I realized how I should appreciate this moment, I decided it is time to cast on another sweater or so misc. item. I am suffering from mom guilt… She won’t always want hand knits, and may not like a green sweater, but clearly I need to put my needs of not wanting a crazy amount of WIPs aside and make her some knitwear.
I live about an hour from a city called Tacoma. Every February fiber lovers descend on the Hotel Murano to take classes and catch up with friends at the Madrona Fiber Festival. While it runs several days I only was able to swing a day trip to the event. I felt extremely guilty because the day I was able to attend was on Valentine’s day and it was the weekend following my trip to Portland ( I celebrated with an amazing dinner with the Hubby the night before). I loaded up the car with some destash to give my friend (who had traveled down from Canada) and headed south towards Tacoma. I had no expectations other than meeting yo with friends. I explored the marketplace, which is different than any other market place I have seen before. While they have yarns the primary focus is on fiber so many of the yarn vendors have fiber braids that they are selling, spinning equipment or yarns that are breed specific (they have plenty of tother stuff too!!). The market place is free which was nice as the last few marketplaces I have attended have charged a fee.
It was a nice trip with vendors traveling from all over the country to attend. Oh yeah there is knitteratti too. If you geek out on famous knitters than this is the place for you ( I literally almost ran in to Lucy Neatby and the Yarn Harlot when I was entering the marketplace. This is not the reason why I attended though so I didn’t even glance twice and kept on walking to see what the marketplace had to offer. I checked out the Churchmouse Yarns and Teas Booth, the latest Wool People trunk show was on display and it was nice to look at the garments up close and check out their constuction.
I also checked out these cute little notion dishes that are made locally. I had to pick a couple of them up. I can’t decide if I am going to keep them or gift one. They would make a lovely gift.
I stopped by The Fiber Gallery’s booth and saw some beautiful skeins of Hazel Knits. I love how saturated with color her skeins are, and her yarn is beautiful too. The Fiber Gallery always has a nice selection of Hazel Knits.
I also stopped by to see a Rav friend of mine who is vending, Amy Lee. She is based out of Portland and has a wonderful assortment of yarns. She is pretty well known for her self striping yarn. I was surprised to learn she not only does self striping sock yarn but she does, DK Aran, and worsted weight as well. I had to pick some up to make my daughter a pair of mittens (I showed her the yarn today which has sparkles in it and she smiled). I also was really excited to see that she had some self striping minis. I picked up a few of these and will put them in mittens or a scarp blanket at some point.
So while I picked up a few skeins here and there at Sincere Sheep and Northwest Handspun, my new discovery was Catherine Lowe Couture. At first when you see the booth you are not certain what is gaining on. they have a garment rack, and some boxes. But on further examination I saw the shawl the designer was wearing and asked about it. She takes piled or lighter weight yarns and winds them together treating a new fabric. Her yarns and fibers are nice and really luxurious. I had to pick up one of the kits.
the pictures may tell a story of a successful shopping trip, but while it is easy to document shopping, it is a little bit harder to document the 5 hours of getting together with friends that occurred on this yarncation(when you are the photographer):)
Body Warp Kit by Catherine Lowe Couture
Merino #5 Black by Catherine Lowe Couture
Merino #5 Cream by Catherine Lowe Couture
Sincere Sheep Cormo Worsted in Aegean
3 skeins of self striping Cannon Hand Dyes in various heavier weights
2 assorted mini self striping samplers from Cannon Hand Dyes
2 little knit ceramic dishes by Charan Sachar from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
I know yarncations can’t last for ever, although it would be great if it could. The final day was a nice slow day. I had take a photo with Joji the day before and she had pouted out that my lens was a little off. I had been planning on buying a new lens so I was able to grab one in downtown Portland. I know it seems weird but I really had a hard time dropping so much money on an expensive lens for my DSLR. I do spend a tidy sum on yarn, but yarn and knitting is my passion. While I enjoy taking pictures, photography is not my passion. When it was pointed out by my friend how much I actually have been using my DSLR I forked down the cash and bought the lens.
The rest of the day was killing time and exploring Portland before the class on Sweater fit with Joji. We quickly stopped at Powell’s bookstore in downtown Portland. There is a lot to see the bookstore is bigger than a city block and has multiple floors. After seeing the reduction of bookstores as we move to a more digital way of reading I was really happy to be in a book store. They have the biggest amount of knitting books I have seen in one place.
I was able to taste some of Portland’s great cuisine and got to experience the Waffle Window. This is pretty awesome, they have upgraded the crepe experience by using a Belgian waffle. They had an assortment of savory and sweet waffles on their menu.
After brunch we jetted over to Happy Knits. Theclass was pretty great. While the topic was closely related to the one covered the day before I learned several new things, mainly I am not apple shaped. I had a nagging feeling I was but after taking the classes over the last 2 days I came the the realization that I am actually a boy/inverted triangle with a generous chest. I think the is going to give me some pause for thought when I pick sweaters. I have been totally obsessed with what makes the “girls” look smaller and how I can hide things… I have completely neglected adding details to my waist to give the appearance of a more balanced shape.
While I could talk about class I though I would talk about the funniest thing that happened on the trip to Portland. I asked Joji to show me how to knit the Argentinian way. In Argentina they knit with long needles and place them under the armpit. It can be used for knitting flat garments. I took several pictures of her knitting this way(my camera was out of focus, so you can ask, but I will not be sharing these). She kindly teased me that if I was going to take pictures of her it was only fair that she could do the same. Her point was well made:)
7 skeins of Madeline Tosh Sock in Mockingjay
3 skeins of Madeline Tosh Vintage in Mockingjay
1 mug and notebook of Joji and Veera Knit america 2015
I didn’t even blink when Joji and Veera announced that they would be teaching at Happy Knits in Portland, Oregon. I immediately signed up for 2 of Joji’s classes (I thought Veera’s topics were interesting, but I have been on a mission to focus more on sweaters this year). I signed up for “Approach to Sweater Design” and “Sweaters that Fit.” First of all I have to say Joji is a really warm, and funny person; she puts you at ease immediatly. I know she was a bit nervous because this was the first time that she has ever taught, but I think she was a pro (and yes I know she designs sweaters for a living:). There were a lot of prolific knitters in the sweater design class so the topics covered tended to be more for the intermediate to advanced knitter, although I am sure that there were beginners in the class too. From my perspective many of the people in the class wanted to learn more about sweater construction or how to make modifications to an existing pattern. I sometimes find taking classes tough. I used to take more classes, but the classes are designed to appeal to multiple levels of knitters, so sometimes the questions that are brought up in classes vary significantly (i.e from the new knitter to the advanced knitter).
I learned a lot from the class and afterwards was able to get some hints about how I will be adopting the Freshly Fallen pattern by Amy Miller ( if you are curious she suggested that when I do the v-neck increases at a deeper rate to start and then lower the rate of increases, causing a heart shaped neckline). I really don’t know when I am going to the actually sweater, but since I am committed I will do it. That reminds me I need to check my gauge on swatch #2. Okay back to the trip.
The 3 hour class went by really fast, it was as if I blinked and it was over. This class definately changed some perceptions that I had about sweater construction; mainly on gauge and how a looser gauge can be flattering with positve ease. I recently have been thinking about the tighter the fabric the better with sweaters would fit, flatter and wear, but I came away with some different takes after this class. I think I was looking at sweater construction a little two dimensionally before this class(which is okay), and not taking other elements of the design or my body shape in to deciding what and how I want to modify the pattern. I was just looking at what I would make as how the sweater was pieced together (ie. Raglan, top down, bottom up, seamed) but after taking this class I understood that certain construction types can be more flattering on my body type. Another way I can phrase this is that I think we look at making sweaters as knitters, construction, and what we would like to make, what is challenging. Joji noticed that my bust and the depth of armhole measurement was disproportionate ( i.e typically we pick the bust or chest measurement and that gives you a sleeve size). Hearing this made me realize that when I pick patterns this way or with a raglan construction I can end up with wider sleeves. This was kind of mind blowing to me because, although I have my measurements from Customfit, I don’t really think about changing the type of construction and modifications due to my measurements(length of garment and size yes, but that is about it). Her perspective as a designer at which she could dissect my body shape was extremely helpful. I definitely have new things to think about now when I make my next sweater.
So after class my friend and I ventured over to Knit Purl and Dublin Bay Knitting in downtown Portland. I was no disappointed. These shops were completely different from each other and the ones that I get to visit in Seattle. Knit Purl specializes in upscale yarn. I have visited their website before, but have never visited the store it was great to see and touch yarns that I have read about. I learned I liked Happy Mink by Jones Vandemeer, but was not as into Clever Camel (a worsted weight yarn made from baby camel hair by the same company).
I ended up picking up some of the Happy Mink and deciding to try the new FAR Woolfolk yarn ( in a gray color way…. what can I say I love this color). I am really excited about the Happy Mink yarn I hope to make the Becot hat by Julie Hoover with this yarn.
After wrapping up we headed to Dublin Bay Knitting which is about a 20 minute walk from Knit Purl. I can’t say enough about this store. I think the however is from across the pond. It has traditional Celtic themed things you would expect to see, but also new stuff like their own yarn line. I ended up picking up some Hedgehog Fiber’s Silky Merino Lace-weight yarn which I have been wanting to try ( I think I want to used this for the BeauB cardigan, I’m not a huge fan of mohair, which is called for in the pattern) the staff was very friendly and I enjoyed browsing some yarns I have not seen.
It hard to believe, but there is still more for me to share with you about my trip to PDX.
Norwegian knitting book
4 skeins for Hedgehog Fiber’s Silk Merino
4 skeins of Woolfok’s FAR in a grey color way
2 skeins of Happy Mink ( 1 is marled, the other is black)
When I signed myself up to take the two classes at Happy Knits with Joji. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to.It turned out it was a weekend of “AWESOME”. I drove down fro, Seattle with my friend Ariel on Friday and arrived early, so it was an easy call to visit some Portland’s local yarn stores.
First up was Twisted. It was a very nice place I have to say I have been to my share of yarn stores and I have to say that Portland has it “going on” in this department. Simply put, Twist is beautiful. They have a wide selection of colors and indie dyers. What impressed me the most was the amount of colorways they stocked and the quantity that they keep on hand. Just some of the yarns that I got to see were Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Knitted Wit, Hazel Knits, and Quince & Company. I could go on (because there were a lot) but I will stop there because I have to talk about what really caught my eye. I have been trying to get some Quince Owl in the “Cielo” colorway from a local LYS and the couple times that I have visited they have not had it in stock or the quantity that I was looking for. Needless to say I had to snap up some skeins of that yarn.
One of the sweaters that I have been wanting to knit is the Hazelwood Cardigan which is one of Twisted’s shop patterns. I really love this sweater and have every intention of making it this year, infact have even swatched for it. Needless to say when I saw the mannequin in the shop I was very intrested in seeing it up close. The helpful ladies at the shop who they call “Twistedistas” took the mannequin down and let me inspect it. It was a real treat. I was able to see how the details and design elements came together and check out the overall shape and construction of the garment. I am super excited to knit this sweater. I think it will go very fast, but I have a few things on the needles that I need to work through first.
Next up was Happy Knits…. after finishing up at Twisted I headed over for a meet and greet event with Joji and Veera at Happy Knits. While I can be outgoing at times I have to admit that when first meeting people I sometimes have a bit of anxiety(yes its true) and can be a little more reserved. Knitters are so welcoming though so this feeling usually doesn’t last too long.
In this case I got to finally meet some friends and some people I had seen or interacted with on Ravelry. It was a really great evening all around.
I am so excited. This weekend I am headed down to Portland, Oregon on a road trip with one of my friends. I will be taking a couple of classes at Happy Knits with Joji. I also am going to check out their Interpretations 2 trunk show. The show features Joji and Veera’s latest designs. I am excited to see the sample knits in person. I also might get to finally meet one of my Ravelry friends who is also going to be at the meet and greet on Friday night.
Needless to say I am excited for a weekend of yarn and friendship. I have been debating on what to bring on the trip. I am lucky because normally when I travel(which is rare) I am the passenger and get to int while my husband drives. This time I am driving, so it makes me a bit versus on what projects I should bring for the trip. I am hoping I am going to get some good knitting time in this weekend, because I signed my self up for a new test knit. I am really excited about it. the design and the yarn I picked are oh so awesome (more to come on this in another post).
I am still slogging along on the Ashby, but I can’t lie I find the new test knit pattern kind of addicting to knit.
A yarn bowl
No yarn (although some of the preorder yarn I reported on earlier did arrive at the house)
So I have signed myself up to do three KALs this year. KAL #1 Ashby #2 Northport and #3 Freshly Fallen. I have making good progress on #1 and have finished #2. This brings me to the inevitable #3. While not originally on my radar ( because the pattern game out before my 2015 goals) I will be able to count it against my sweater goal (4 adult sweaters is my goal and 8 being my stretch goal).
I am having to consult one of my knitting friends from the East Coast because I want to modify the pattern’s neckline. I guess I am growing a little as a knitter but am a little intimidated by the pattern and off roading it. I don’t think this would be the case if I was a sweater knitter (one that primarily knits sweaters). I guess that is the point right?
I promised myself that I would not blog until I finished something. I had already planned on blogging before the Superbowl, so when my team lost (I still can’t believe it!) I decided to quit procrastinating. I have some actual news I finished not one(wait for it), but two items.
I finally finished he Sunshine Day Afghan (by Alicia Paulson)crocheted with Plucky 10 ply cashmere(now discontinued). This took a really long time, as I wasn’t monogamous on this project and had other things on the needles. I learned a lot on this. I still don’t consider myself a crocheter, but I think that if a pattern is simple enough I can do it. Two big things I learned were (1) if you want to put a blanket together and want it to be smooth, seaming is better than single crocheting items together, because it will leave a flat seam and (2) while the weight of the yarn didn’t matter as much as I thought on the squares (it mattered a bit) it really mattered on the overall weight of the blanket. I had decided to hook this using aran weight vs. dk as the pattern calls for because I wanted a larger blanket.
I also finished my NorthPort (by Amy Miller). I had knit the ribbed brim while I waited for my yarn to arrive from The Plucky Knitter. I love this design, and almost copycat’d the sample in the pattern entirely. A few mods: (1) I knit it up in Oxford (2) I used “Gumshoe” as the main color (3) I put a pom pom on it(I mean who doesn’t love a good pom pom?).
So what’s next up? I am swatching for a sweater and trying to finish up my Ashby shawl. Hopefully I will finish the shawl before I leave for my yarn-cation in Portland.
Some Plucky Cashmere in Williamsburg and Traveler DK in Monogram from the Gauge + Tension trunk show ( a friend picked these up for me)