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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.

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.

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.

Perfect Day for Pie

23 Oct

After nearly a whole month of uninterrupted sunshine we’ve finally had a typically cloudy, chilly, rainy autumn day.  To be honest, I am thrilled.  It is perfect pie weather, and it just has to be pumpkin.

My failed pumpkin pie a while back must have just been a sign that it was too early for autumn baking.  This time everything went without a hitch.  I used the recipe from “The Art of Simple Food”, a really easy and genuinely tasty rendition of the classic.  There aren’t any bells and whistles with this recipe, and it really lets the pumpkin sing.  I’ve been particularly lazy this year and ended up using Trader Joe’s organic canned pumpkin, but it wasn’t any worse for wear.

I also couldn’t resist starting another project.  Something about socks feels more monotonous than even knitting a large sweater.  Maybe it’s the tiny needles, but I had to break my own commandment and start a little something to keep me going.

These are Lovisa armwarmers knit up using some leftover Cascade 220.  I had to modify them slightly due to gauge, but they are a beautiful and satisfying knit.  I finished the first in a matter of a couple of hours while watching a film.  They are a gift for my garden loving sister-in-law.  Something cozy to pull on while feeding chickens or pottering around the shed.  Now, I just need to find the perfect buttons to go with them.

Autumn Heat Wave

10 Oct

There must be some sort of inverse square law where the hotter it gets the less knitting I do.  While this probably means I’ll finish an entire sweater when it gets to 30 below, it’s bad news now that the weather has inexplicably reached the 80s here in Wisconsin.  Am I in Wisconsin still?  This is October right?  Some days it feels more like the twilight zone.

And I thought our beach days were over for the year.  We found ourselves back in the sand when I refused to resort to turning the air conditioning on again.  Some of us didn’t mind so much.

I have started on this little guy’s Drive Thru, which would be a nice easy and quick knit normally, but my hands are protesting at the feeling of hot sticky wool in the warmth.  I have managed to finish the body and am well on my way on one of the sleeves.

Strange to think that he might just need this in another week or so.  I hope the mercury drops because I am keen to finish this up and get going on my Socktoberfest project.

This is Knit One Crochet Too’s Ty-Dy sock yarn, a little gem I found at the Knitting Tree.  It has a wonderfully soft hand, much softer than most sock yarns I’ve come across and I was enchanted by the bold green colours.  My plan is to knit a pair of gift socks using the Jaywalker pattern.  I’m a bit unsure as to how the colours are going to stripe, but the pattern should help bring out its best side.  If I can finish a complete pair (that’s TWO socks) this month I will consider Socktoberfest a success.

For now, I am going to have to sit here, sweat, and enjoy a cold beer.  Happy Indian Summer to all.