Twenty

Happy Birthday Emma! 

Twenty is a cool number: 2 times 1 teen (how your Papi would have put it). 

I've been thinking about what to write about you for a few days now and it all came together when I found this video (that I posted earlier today on Twitter)

A short movie of the kids

This is a "very Emma" moment and looking back, it shows how one's disposition doesn't really change over time.

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You're always singing and dancing, whether it's The Who, Wham or other hits from the 80's, the soundtrack of your current favourite musical, your latest musical infatuation, or dressed as a pineapple. 

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You've grown up into a fierce young woman and your twenties are going to be amazing. Just make sure to keep singing and dancing!

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Resolution Three: Longer Sleeves and a bonus tutorial

As I mentioned in my last post, I tend to make the sleeves too short on my sweaters. I really don't like them too long and I think I over compensate (that and I'm probably impatient to get the sleeves knit). Hence Resolution Three: Make your sleeves long enough Steph.

In the case of Maxfield it also seemed to mess with the fit of the sweater so much that I stopped wearing it. The sweater is a bit tight in the arm and the too short sleeve seems to make it feel constricting and it pulls at the shoulders. So I decided to lengthen the sleeve. 

This sweater has a different construction and there is no way to undo the sleeve, rip back to the armpit and knit on the length (well you can, but it means taking apart the whole garment).

I decided to do some surgery.

The plan was to knit an extra repeat of the 20 row pattern (the coloured zig zags and rows of blue) right after the cuff. So using a circular needle I picked up the right part of the V of each stitch just below where I wanted to remove the cuff. There were two set up rows which made this easy as I didn't have to pick up the k1p1 cuff or the zig zag pattern.

Then I took my scissors and snipped just above the picked up stitches. Yikes.

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Then I unravelled that row. The cuff was now separated from the sleeve. Yikes.

I picked up the cuff stitches and knit the extra repeat. Bonus points for not having to reknit the cuff. The attached sleeve was safe on the circular needles. I thought about knitting down from the sleeve, but the zig zag pattern wouldn't be pointing in the right direction so I needed to knit up from the cuff.

Actually, full disclosure, I started knitting down from the sleeve, realized the zig zag was pointing the wrong way, ripped back and then picked up the cuff and went the other direction. I might have been a bit delirious after cutting the cuff off.

Once the extra length was knit, the last step was to kitchener stitch the cuff and added length to the garment sleeve.

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The yarn must have faded a bit with washing, so the new part is a bit dark, but that'll change with time and there are lots of dark variations in this lovely hand-dyed yarn. Also having the original cuff helps keep things looking "together".

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Here is is with the new part grafted on

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First sleeve done-major improvement! The sweater fits better and I love it again! 

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While I don't have a finished photo, I can assure you that I did knit the second sleeve and it does cover my watch nicely. Totally worth taking the few hours needed to do this. 


2019 Knitting Resolutions

I took some time to update things on Ravelry yesterday and it was sort of like doing my finances, or shopping for a bathing suit. It made me take a moment to reflect and consider changes for the future.

Really, there's nothing wrong with my knitting life. It's foundational to my social time--I knit with friends, talk about knitting online, blog, hang out on Ravelry, do knitting related travel, and generally knit every day. It's more about the stuff of knitting and how much of it I have. 

It's a lot.

What I notice is that over the last few years, I tend to knit what I buy almost immediately. Like Russell Street--the kit was purchased at Rhinebeck in late October and I was wearing it by December. It never became stash. 

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Some of this feeling is likely a function of having more disposable income and some of it is knowing what I want to knit--I'm a self-actualized knitter :) . Having a stash is great. But adding stuff to the stash doesn't hold much allure. Knitting from stash almost feels like an obligation, albeit a nice one. We won't even talk about my fibre stash and my non-existing spinning time.

Resolution One: I will only knit what I have on hand until Rhinebeck 2019. If I somehow encounter a knitting emergency, I will sell or get rid of equal yardage from the stash. 

The other thing I realized I need to do, is keep notes about what I'm knitting. I'm really bad about this. Like, having to forensically investigate sock one, to knit sock two, bad. This is part of the reason I decided to join Kate Davies' Knitting Season Club this year. I was lucky enough to snag the full club with all the yarn (see Resolution One) and the journal. I rather like journals, but am not a journal keeper. I have them at work for rough notes and to-do lists, but tend to use my iPad and pencil for work notes. 

I use my iPad for PDF patterns and do annotate them, but not often enough and usually too cryptically to understand if a lot of time has passed. I think the tactile nature of knitting demands the tactile act of writing on paper. Or at least that's what I'm going with for now.  

Resolution Two: I'm going to crack open this lovely journal and use it as my knitting log. I'll make notes on my projects (which I might type into Ravelry later), write down what freaking row of the pattern I stopped on, note mods or issues and generally make notes about my knitting and spinning. 

The rationale for my last resolution is my next post. But here's the teaser:

Resolution Three: You don't like bracelet length sleeves even though you always wear a big watch and a lot of bracelets. Knit your damned sleeves long enough for the love of all things wooly. Ask Emma if the sleeves are long enough if you're not sure. Her arms are way longer than yours and she despises too-short sleeves.

 


The Knitter's Dictionary

My very talented friend, Kate Atherley has a new book out--a perfect Christmas gift for a knitter (or yourself). 

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The Knitter's Dictionary is just that, a dictionary of everything knit-related. It defines many of the usual terms: yo, alt, worsted and some you often read in patterns but which are often not defined--from the notorious At The Same Time to the silly Yarn Barf. 

The book itself is a tidy, small hardcover--easy to store in your knitting corner for quick reference. It is full of really nifty illustrations for things like darning eggs and decreases adding to the explanatory heft of this book.

I'm a long time knitter, solid Googler and love the idea of a book that keeps all these terms in one place. I'm also someone who used to read the dictionary as a kid, and I find myself with a cup of tea working my way through The Knitter's Dictionary from Across the Row/Round to Z-Twist.

This is another great book from Kate. I love her approach which aims to give knitters the knowledge and tools of our craft. A dictionary of terms is a perfect addition to the knitting cannon.

 


Happy Birthday Alexander (Adult edition)

My baby, this guy...

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Is 18 today.

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A lover of my knitting (even if he didn't want a university blanket).

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A kind, generous, considerate and joyful guy.

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A musician, gamer, budding geographer, camp counsellor, cyclist, skateboarder (still cringe at this one, so much danger), swimmer, and all around fun person.

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Now an adult. Woah. 

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Can't wait to see what you'll do out in the world. It's going to be fantastic.

Happy Birthday my Xanderman. 


My favourite mittens (a goodbye)

My Fiddlehead mittens have been the hand knit I've worn the most. I love the fit. I love the short cuff that covered my wrist but didn’t mess with the cuff of whatever coat I was wearing. I love the colour—colourful but grounded in a neutral. I love that they had a built in liner to keep my hands warm. 

I knew they were perfect the minute I finished them  

I wore these mittens most days in the winter. I rode my bike wearing these mittens even in the coldest weather. (Okay, so they weren’t great below -20C, but that’s asking a lot of hand knit mittens). 

They’ve been repaired and washed and loved. But then they were too worn out to repair (shifting gears on the bike is the likely culprit).

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This year it’s time to say goodbye. 

Sniff. 

I snipped out the liners and added a cuff. They can line some other mittens and live a little longer. But the outer mitt is done. 

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Sniff. 

Yes, I can knit another pair, but they may not be the same. The Tanis kit is no longer available so I might use two colours of the same yarn this time (If you have a kit in stash I will buy it!). Maybe I’ll strand in some kidsilk haze for extra warmth. Maybe I’ll knit something completely different just so I won’t compare. 

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We had eight great years together. I already miss you...


The Skinny

My knitting mojo is back big time. On top of the few projects I already had on the needles, I started 4 new projects since Rhinebeck, 2 of which I started last weekend. Craig went off for his yearly Rhinebeck (deer hunting at Pineapple Lodge) and being alone all week made knitting all the things seem like the right thing to do.

I'm pretty sure he was just out of the driveway when I got out the loom and warped it using my Miss Babs Yummy Toes mini skeins for a Mad for Plaid scarf.

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Then I did a bit more work on my first panel for Twitch.

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Then I got really ambitious and starting this:

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The Shieling blanket by Kate Davies. I love knitting blankets. They're always the right size, they're incremental--one square at a time--and who doesn't love snuggling under a blanket? 

This one might be a challenge...it's fingering weight AND fair isle. And completely addictive. Two squares done and I'm smitten. It's beautiful and fun to knit.

I have a few other things on the needles and I noticed they're all fingering or lace weight. Skinny yarn and big projects.

While I love a chunky cowl or a worsted weight sweater, there's something more refined in a thinner-yarn garment. They're more  clothing and less hand made. There's more space for a motif or colour. And really there's more knitting which isn't ever a bad thing.

Go little on something big...or go home.
 


I'm Back

No really, this time I mean it. 

Maybe not in a John Wick way...

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But yeah, I'm thinking I'm back.

So why now? 

One reason is because I miss it. All the Facebooking and Twittering and Instagraming is okay, but none of them are long-form mediums. They're all meant to be short and also controlled by the platform and its algorithms. Blogging is a much freer medium. I don't have any ads or affiliate programs, just me and I can decide what I say, how I say it and when. And I realized that I don't really care if I get a like or a retweet or whatever. I do love when people comment and I love conversation, but there's something diffuse about social media that I'm liking less and less. I've practically given up Facebook (I've only logged in once since New Year's) and am consciously deciding to spend less time on Twitter (because it's really not very fun anymore). Both of these sort of replaced the blog, but not really. I think I missed writing and documenting my life here. 

And another funny thing happened. My kids, they grew up and are off at university.

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I know, I can't really believe it either. 

It's been a bit weird with them gone. The pace of my life has changed. I'm not lonely or sad or anything like that, but the house is quieter, there's a hell of a lot less laundry and Craig and I are doing more than working and all the stuff that keeps our lives going. I will say that we miss the kids a ton--and really notice all the chores that now fall to us--but we know they're doing their things in the world and that's how parenting is supposed to work. 

When they left, I decided to give myself until after Rhinebeck to figure out what I was going to do with myself. I already knew I didn't want to work more. The job is good, but more of it doesn't make it better. I definitely wanted to knit and spin and weave more, but also know I'll need something else. Writing here will be one of those things and the other stuff, well, that's being more elusive. 

But I'll be ready when the opportunity arises to do something new. 

So for now, I pulled out my old And She Knits Too! banner (that I really love and should never have replaced) and changed my blog template a bit to mark my new resolve. I also warped the loom today and casted on for The Shieling (swoon) and also knit a bit on Twitch and am having fun with all things yarn-related. More about those projects soon.


Bang Out a Carbeth


I already had a Carbeth in my Ravelry queue when MSK declared February as Bang Out a Carbeth month for a knit-along. I loved the simplicity of the pattern; it’s a raglan turned sideways so the diagonal shaping line crosses the front and back instead of the shoulders. That’s a good shape for my body and broad shoulders and at 3.5 sts to the inch, it’s something easy to knit up. 

And the photos. I'm knitting the whole, wear a gorgeous skirt and frolic in the winter highlands lifestyle...

Finding the right yarn in my stash was the bigger problem. I made four swatches.  The roughly Aran weight handspun was a bit too floppy. The two strands of sport/dk together was delicious squooshy merino silk cashmere but I couldn’t get gauge. The Queensland tweed too thin to even finish the swatch. The Cascade Ecological wool was just right, except I only had one skein each of two colours (they were a gift). 

I did some colouring (my new iPad Pro is going to be great for knitting stuff) to determine how to use the two colours in a way that maximized the design. 

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I chose the dark bottom with the light top (just above) I casted on and a week later I have the body done, one sleeve attached and the next one started.

All good.

Except I knit myself into a corner.

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If I want to continue with knitting in the round, I'm going to have 4 skeins on the go. Light left sleeve, dark back, light right sleeve, dark front. I also have to figure out how to do the decrease so it's pretty. I was trying to think up a latvian-braid like effect with the decreases. Any hints or ideas on how I might do these 2 colour decreases? 

I could also do each piece separately and sew as was done with this beautiful colour-block Carbeth

I'm not against seaming a sweater, but will avoid it for this one if I can.

 


Startitis

I’m back knitters. BACK. Knitting. Thinking about knitting. Writing about knitting. 

Swatching

I knit 5 swatches this week. Not counting the mitten I started which was to serve as a swatch if I didn’t get gauge. I got gauge and the mitten is half way done.

Could be that my Fitzcarraldo knee socks were the stopper. Two years to knit two socks. I got that done and bam! I’ve knit a sweater in a month, start planning two more and got to making new mitts before the winter is over. 

And after only posting 3 times in 2017, it’s time for me to use this blog again. Sure it’s very 2009, but it’s a space I like. I’m fine with Instagram and Twitter and would be lost without Ravelry, but all of them are only parts of my story. I like that here I can consolidate. A place that’s partly social, but not driven by stupid algorithms and that I mostly control. 

So here goes...

Fitzcarraldo Knee Socks by Kate Atherley, the smartest knitter I know, and who’s instructions I should read and follow the first time. Ripping out and reuniting 5 inches of twisted rib is my punishment and I took it willingly after putting the first sock in a time out for a year. I am not always a patient knitter.

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Cold Breath, by Joji Locatelli, made from recycled Indigodragonfly merino silk. This sweater is perfect. I want to wear it everyday.

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New basic mittens following Kate Atherley's instructions in her new (and fantastic) book: Knit Mitts. Yarn is my handspun, Into the Whirled Merino/Yak in Captain Tightpants

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The other two projects are where all the swatching is happening. I'll leave that to my next post which is about Kate Davies, her beautiful work and the West Highland Way Club. I joined after seeing a sweater that had me entranced, and it's been a complete delight.