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An Icy Day

2 Jan

After a few unusual days of warmth we’ve had quite a thaw in Madison.  Most of the snow is gone from our streets and yards, so it was quite an experience to feel the chill come back in full force and to visit a frozen lake.

It was amazing to see such a big body of water frozen, and to see ATVs and people out in the middle of it!  But I am glad to be safe at home and back in the warm.  Which is always a pleasant experience when you have plenty of wool around.

This is Cascade Eco + in Lichen for the first of my IntSweMoDo2011 challenge, a seamless saddle shoulder sweater (a la Elizabeth Zimmerman) for my Dad.  It is a popular one on Ravelry and I totally understand why, this is probably one of the best work horse yarns around.  With nearly 500 yards per skein it is super economical and knitting with bulky yarn means this will be a speedy project.  Knitting up a sleeve in a day means I don’t feel bad casting on another very small project before starting the body.

Stonehedge Shepherd’s Wool is a yarn I stumbled across when looking for something for my sister-in-law.  It is made by a small mill in Michigan and is a wonderfully soft worsted wool.  Perfect for the Thermis cowl I’ve had my eye on for some time.  The colour should go nicely with my Ringwood gloves, finished just in time for the return of the cold.

 

2011 – Year of Handknit Sweaters

1 Jan

Happy New Year, to you all!  I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday, with plenty of food, love, and warmth.  This year was a quiet one, punctuated with holiday visits.  Looking back over December I am surprised by how much I managed to get done:

The last two were last minute knits when I ended up short of yarn for the Douglas Mittens.  I am so pleased that accomplished my goal of making my family handknits this year.  It’s made me more ambitious with my knitting goals than ever.

I am not one for making resolutions, but I feel like they really help my productivity, so this year I plan to make 12 sweaters in 12 months, by participating in IntSweMoDo2011.  It sounded like a crazy undertaking until I realised that I had managed to make four sweaters in the last four months (Shalom, Idlewood, Cobblestone, Amelia).

My list as of now is:

  1. Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Seamless Saddle Shoulder (for my Dad) – Cascade Eco +
  2. Manu (for my mother-in-law) – Felted Tweed
  3. Aidez – Rowan Purelife British Breeds Chunky
  4. Golden Wheat Cardigan – Louet Riverstone Chunky
  5. Kerrera – Araucania Nature Wool
  6. Raspy – Rowan Denim
  7. Central Park Hoodie (for sister-in-law) – Cascade Eco +
  8. Wispy – Berrocco Ultra Alpaca Light
  9. Vaila – Berrocco Peruvia
  10. Tweedy Aran Cardigan – Berlini York Tweed
  11. Basic Mens Henley (for David) – Rowan Cashsoft DK

The twelfth hasn’t been decided since it’s the only one that I don’t already have yarn for (yikes!).  I’m confident that I’ll manage to choose one, or two, or a dozen more I want to do before the year is up.  What knitting or crafting resolutions have you made this year?

More Solstice Giving

20 Dec

The highlight of this past weekend was a visit from my parents, and I was very pleased to have finished a very important present just in time.

This is Amelia, knit with Araucania Nature wool.  A two-week knit Solstice gift for my mother.

The last time we visited my parents I showed my mother the yarn, researched the pattern with her, and took measurements.  I considered making it a complete surprise, but I am glad that I involved her early on.  It was fun seeing her get excited by the yarn and telling me what she did and didn’t like about the pattern.  Taking measurements was a lifesaver too, because she has incredibly short arms, and I almost ended up with sleeves three inches too long!

And it fit like a glove!  The only mods were to the sleeve length and making the buttons the full length, but a bit further apart.  I had fun perusing through my new button collection for just the right ones.  It was a very speedy knit despite a slow start with twisted rib.  I hope it’s a cardigan that will last her for years to come.

Just one more last minute gift before Christmas weekend.  A set of Douglas mittens for my Grandma, made with some leftover Harrisville Highland and Louet Riverstone.

I hope she likes the Packers colouring!

An Early Solstice Present

11 Dec

Even though it comes year after year I am always amazed how overwhelming the holidays can feel.  Thanksgiving week included both Dougie’s 2nd birthday and a trip to Chicago to see David’s sister and her family.  Despite us all being sick with cold we had a wonderful time.  The knitted gifts went down a treat, and I even managed to squeeze in a quick Turn a Square for my dearest nephew.

My only complaint would be that it was too brief a visit, though I suppose that is always true with people whom you love and never see enough of.  Coming back home took a lot of adjusting.  Dougie gets quite attatched to people and is affected by separation as much as us adults.  With any luck we hope to be seeing them all again very soon.

November was a surprisingly productive month (though you’d never tell from this blog *cough cough*) and I managed to finish Cobblestone for NaSweKniMo.  It was a spur of the moment decision to make it a goal, but it really kept me going through all those rows of garter stitch in the round!  An early solstice present that was finished just in time for the snow.

I loved knitting this, but then again I don’t mind endless stocking stitch as long as it’s in the round.  I even made sure to do several swatches, which was good because I had to knit this on 3mm needles to get gauge.  The Harrisville Highland is a remarkable yarn, it bloomed and softened up a lot after a good soak.  I’ve read that it’s a yarn that won’t pill and I’m hoping it lasts for many years to come.

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for this jumper.  I hope it will be worn when we get our first chickens.  When he chops down his first tree.  That it will last through rainstorms and winters.  It’s a jumper knit with a different lifestyle in mind, and one I hope will hold a lot of memories.

For now we will keep dreaming of that life and that place, and it will keep him warm while the snow falls.

Super Quick Mittens

12 Nov

Have a couple of hours of spare?  Some spare worsted weight yarn?  A pair of small hands that need warming?  Then you have to knit these.

While snow still seems a long way away (it’ll prove me wrong) the days are getting chilly enough to warrant gloves and mittens.  Desperate to use some of my Cascade 220 stash these extra-toasty mittens use yarn doubled, and are so quick that I finished them over the course of one movie.  Talk about instant gratification.

These are his first mittens and his first truly snowy winter.  He seems to approve of them too, proudly wearing them (and nothing else) and demanding a trip to the park.  They will be perfect for those sledding, snowballing, and hot chocolate days to come.  I enjoyed autumn immensely but am equally excited for winter to come this year.

(Um, take 2?)

A Loose Knitter Laments

11 Nov

I knit very loosely, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  My hands stay very relaxed and I can knit for hours without any fatigue.  But getting gauge can be a terrible pain.

I bought this Madelinetosh Worsted (which is really a much lighter DK weight) from a fellow blogger and Raveler to make Ringwood gloves for my mother.  The colourway, “Kale”, is a beautiful blend of purple-grey tones dyed in a salt and pepper effect.  It is great to knit with, but I am having no end of problems with my gauge.

The pattern suggests 24 st/4 inches in the ringwood pattern and the designer used 4mm needles.  I am reliably loose so I always go down one needle size.  I started off with 3.75mm, then 3mm, and am now down to a 2.75mm which makes the name “Madelinetosh worsted” sound like a cruel joke.  Luckily my mother’s hands are larger than mine (which are like a small child’s) so I’m hoping I will have success this time around.

If I was a tight knitter I’d have more options, you can always size up more easily than size down, in my opinion.  Which is why sock knitting is more a chore than it really should be.  When I go down to size 00 or smaller my hands give up.

Which is why I will make sure the next project I knit will be made on reasonable sized needles.

Little Red Idlewood

6 Nov

Thank you so much for the get well wishes, after a bit of rest I feel back to my normal self and projects have been flying off the needles.

With barely a yard to spare I managed to finish Idlewood with only 760 yards of Rowan Cashsoft Aran.  Thank goodness for blocking because it was very nearly a crop top.  It’s still a little on the short side and I am sad that it doesn’t have the pocket, but all the more reason to knit another one.

It was such a surprisingly quick knit, about a week from start to finish.  The Cashsoft yarn is warm and soft as a kitten,  I’ve even survived our first freezing wintery days wearing it with my autumn jacket.  While knitting I found it funny that the cowl is almost bigger than the rest of the garment, but I love snuggling up under it.  Plus, it looks cool.

I declare it the ultimate autumn layering garment, and will still be wearing it long after the snow falls.

New November

1 Nov

It’s always refreshing starting a new month, and already it is a far cry from the lingering summer warmth we had in October.  Most of the leaves are gone and it is decidedly chilly but no less beautiful.

These early evenings give us a chance as a family to take walks as the light fades.  So perfect for taking atmospheric photos.

It’s also perfect for knitting cozy giant-cowl pullovers.

Idlewood is one of the patterns I fell in love with the moment I laid eyes on it, and managed to buy yarn for it during the crazy cheap Fabric.com sale.  Unfortunately I miscalculated yardage.  Instead of 850 yards, I bought only 760 yards.  I could do without this sort of anxiety while knitting something I so desperately want to wear.

I also have a few goals in mind for the new month.

  • Ringwood Gloves for my own mother in gorgeous Madelinetosh DK
  • Hat and mittens for Dougie
  • Ripley for me in Quince and Co Osprey
  • Fingerless mitts for David
  • Spend more time knitting than Ravelry
  • No more yarn! (for November)

Back in the days before Ravelry things were so much simpler.  You had to buy a pattern book or magazine and wait for the next issue.  The downside to the instant gratification and endless supply of patterns online is that I am constantly in search of the my next project and the queue starts to heave and stash accumulates.  Eventually things get so old I don’t even want to knit them anymore.  By keeping myself knitting and not surfing I’m hoping to get more done, buy less yarn, and simply enjoy making things.  We shall see.

October Round-up

31 Oct

With only days left in the month I completed Habitat, my fifth finished object of the month.

The finished project is fantastic, I love the cables and the polished look the decreases give, but my hands really suffered from this one.  I’m not sure if it was simply the tension of all those cables but I felt wrist pain near the end of this.  David’s already requested one for himself, but it’ll have to wait until I’ve done a few mindless knits in softer yarn to recooperate.  I think the colour and pattern will look great on my brother-in-law.

Overall, it’s been a very productive month.  I have finished:

  1. Andrea’s Shawl for my mother-in-law
  2. Drive-Thru for Dougie
  3. Scrap-happy Celebration for David
  4. Lovisa Armwarmers for sister-in-law
  5. Habitat for brother-in-law

I didn’t manage to finish my Socktoberfest socks, but I did learn something valuable: I hate knitting socks.  I love wearing handknit socks, but I get so bored after the first one.  To save myself time and anguish I will never knit socks again (watch me forget in another month).

We also managed to visit some awesome places this month, and I feel we made the best of the Indian summer we had.  It’ll be sad to go back to our “normal” routine.

For November I am going on a yarn diet.  My stash is not huge, but I definitely have more than I can get through at the moment and feel I treated myself more than enough in October.  I hope to knit some more gifts before December, but also something for myself for a change.  If I can manage to go a whole month without buying ANY yarn (even sale and sock yarn) I will consider it a great triumph.

Lovisa Armwarmers

25 Oct

I love that after two days of very leisurely movie knitting I end up with something as lovely as these.

These Lovisa armwarmers should be just the thing for my gardening sister-in-law.  While I think they turn out to be drapey and rather elegant knit in a sportweight yarn as intended I really like the snug warmth when knit in Cascade 220.  The brown and cream colouring reminds me of traditional nordic ski sweaters and hot chocolate with marshmallows.  All that’s left is to find the perfect pair of buttons to finish them off.

Mitts are so nice in that they gives you total freedom of movement in the fingers (great for knitting or planting fiddly seeds) but keep your hands warm at the same time.  I am very tempted to knit everyone in the family a pair of these.

And just what is it that I’m knitting?  The next in my line of holiday gifts, something for my brother-in-law.

Jared Flood’s Habitat hat using Blackberry Ridge medium weight silk blend in forest green.  Blackberry Ridge is a fairly local mill that prides itself on sourcing wool from the midwest.  I bought this at the Woodland Studio in Stoughton and couldn’t pass up such a  local yarn, with plenty of yardage.  With any luck I should be able to knit this hat and a cowl from one skein.

The pattern is one that I’ve been coveting since it’s come out.  I am a sucker for cables, despite the extra work involved.  Unlike the mitts this is not a project for mindless movie watching, as I found out after having to start over twice.  Now that I’ve got the cables started properly it’s going very smoothly and am feeling like a gift knitting machine.