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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.

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.

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.

Sunshine and Knitting

30 Sep

We are trying our best to soak up every bit of warm autumn sun around here.

What that means for me is long afternoons spent at the park.  Not that I mind, I have something to bring with me these days.

Like so many things, I believe knitting is even better when done outdoors.  Maybe it’s because I know that there isn’t much time left before I have to don gloves and plein air knitting won’t be such a good idea.  Andrea’s shawl is a perfect pick up and go knit.  I’ve reached the pleasantly monotonous stripey section, but even the lace pattern was easy to memorise once you got your head around it.  It’s just enough lace to keep me interested, but not so much to have to constantly check the chart.

I love how the colours are working out, and the yarn is so soft and slippery to knit, but I don’t think I’d choose this again for a lace project.  The angora halo, while charming and a bit angelic, doesn’t make the lace stand out.  Something silky would bring out those YOs, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

And my thought is to keep knitting outside until there’s chance of frostbite.

Indian Summer

22 Sep

After a couple of weeks of comfortably cool weather it has suddenly become summer again.  Yesterday we had 80 degree highs with 80% humidity.  Today is in the 70s and perfect for a walk around our favourite toddler-friendly parts of Madison.  Despite the warmth you can see autumn is truly on its way.

I’ve also been making satisfying progress on Shalom.  I’ve finished the yoke and started the body with ishi’s mods.  I tried it on briefly and everything seems to be fitting the way it should, which is a miracle since I jumped haphazardly into this without swatching.  My alternative blog names were “The Impatient Knitter” or “The Foolhardy Knitter”.

A lot of my favourite versions of the cardigan omit the waist shaping but I know from experience that I benefit from whatever shaping can be made to a garment.  Boxy just doesn’t look good on me.  I am enjoying doing something where progress is so visible.  Even just doing a few rows here and there throughout the day adds up.  The Wool of the Andes is a joy to knit with, easy on the hands, with just enough grip on the needles to flow nicely.  I am going to have to resist buying a stockload of it since there are just so many yarns I need to try before the year is out.

Yokes and Podcasts

10 Mar

So the storm seems to have passed, though the wind is still pretty fierce. All of our garden furniture was toppled over, some roof tiles flew off and our poor little crab apple tree looks like something out of Charlie Brown. The plus side is I got some crocheting done. I finally finished the never ending yoke increases, so I’ve finally got armholes.

    

I’ve tried it on and it seems to fit well, but think I might make the front edges of the yoke fold over into lapels, they look a little bit funny on me otherwise. I’m just glad I’m not working on nearly 200 stitches a row, it really seemed to drag on. Fortunately those linked stitches are just so cool that it’s hard to get sick of them.

  

Monday is my most productive day in housekeeping too, I feel recharged after the weekend. I downloaded a load of podcasts to get me through the daily toil and am surprised by how good some of them really are. I’ve just gotten into Brenda Dayne’s Cast On podcast am love it. It’s so well produced and with some truly interesting segments, interviews and great music. I’m going to have to slowly make my way through the archives since I’m so late on the bandwagon. Crochet Cast and Yarnthing are pretty good too, and certainly helps me get my knitting fix while scrubbing toilets and the like.

In non-knitting podcasts I’ve finally gotten in the Archers after 5 years of avoiding or half listening to the programme, and thank goodness it’s only about 15 minutes because a huge chunk of my life would be gone listening to it. Now that I’m hooked I have no idea when it’s going to end so this is kind of a life long committment. But maybe my favourite podcast of the day was Earth and Environmental Systems podcast, which is really just a series of lectures for the Colorado School of Mines. I’ve only listened to one lecture but they are so well researched and produced that I find it engaging and educational without getting too overwhelmed. Perfect for the science geek in everyone because he does such a range of topics, but favours geology. I’d love to hear your favourite podcasts (knitting and otherwise) as I can see myself becoming quite an addict.

Solutions to Miserable Days

29 Feb

When the weather is grey, cold and miserable you need to put a bit of spring in your step.

Cupcake Top  

Out come the cottony summer yarns and crochet hooks.  This is the back of the Cupcake top from Debbie Stoller’s “Happy Hooker”, and I’ll consider this my first real crochet project.  I’ve finally got the hang of half-double crochet stitch and getting my hook through those pesky turning chain stitches.  I love the yarn, Wendy’s Supreme Luxury Cotton, and adore the colour, which is a much richer red than pictured.  Because my gauge was tighter I figured that I could knit the medium size, but my measurements make it to be a smidge smaller than I like.  I’m crossing my fingers and praying to yarn gods that there’ll be a bit of give.  Even if this does go to the frogpond I still have this to look forward to.

Fyberspates Merino Tencel 

Fyberspates Merino/Tencel sock yarn.  If only there was ‘feel-o-vision’ because this stuff is soft soft soft, with a lovely sheen.  Best part?  It’s machine washable and non-feltable.  I’m knitting these for my mum for mother’s day (in May), pattern still undecided.  I feel just so tempted to keep it for myself, but will be good, my mother deserves a delicious pair of handknit socks.So if you don’t have spunky yarn to cheer you up on those wintery days you know you can never beat a bowl of hot, thick, roasted garlic and potato soup.