Braids on the Brains

Guilty as charged. I have once again exceeded one page on my Ravelry knitting queue. And yes, I’ve got not one, not two, but three projects all scoped, yarn balled, ready to go. I’m sure you know the feeling—the wanderlust of planning a new project. I personally think that this interferes more with my knitting than anything else since it takes up the same cordoned off time.

And here I was, minding my own business, reading others’ blogs and pursuing Ravelry and the Purl Soho site that I hit on a great combination of projects I’m dying to knit as a set.

The first is a shaped braided cable capelet by Erica Patberg in Interweave  and the second is a 2015 pattern from Purl Soho for a braided cowl.

Too matchy matchy?

Naming Your Photo Folders to Find Things

I take lots and lots of photographs. Let’s face it, in the digital world, “film” is cheap, so I convince myself to take multiples to make certain I get the best possible shot. However, I’m only moderately good about going back and sorting through them and I’m jealous of my husband who somehow manages to get this done (it takes me hours because I fixate on fixing them and deleting the bad ones).

We recently (April 2015) moved to Orcas Island and I have loads of pictures from when we were house hunting as well as just kayaking with our friends from Body Boat Blade who were some of the first folks to tell us (you should live here!).

I was looking for a specific visit—after we moved, but fairly early. I opened my folder for 2015 to find the shot in question. Instead I found a folder naming structure which used to serve me well when I traveled the world for work and hardly ever visited the same place more than once a year.

Year Day Month Location or for longer visits Year Month Location so for a visit to the Isle of Skye it would be 2015 05 Skye and that would be perfectly identifiable.

Living in a picturesque place has rendered the system less than ideal. When I went photo hunting I found in since 2015 I have more than 20 folders all named “Date – Orcas” and even that I have them as subfolders under year, was not as helpful as I’d hoped.

Oddly this does not happen with knitting projects that go into named, rather than dated folders—like “Watson Shrug” or “Fabulous Fuchsia Funnelneck”. In those cases, I rely on the date of the photo to remind me when it was taken because knitting takes time. One folder for several dates of photos make sense—especially if you pick it a project and put it down again as I often do because of my busy working schedule which no longer includes much travel.

So today I spent the morning going through those photos and adding little descriptors like “Funny Nick” and “Lovers Cove”.

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

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Kayaking in Lover’s Cove, Orcas Island

6000+ Pullover Possibilities? Not quite.

When I toy with the idea of being a fulltime knitter I’m always reminded of what Nicki Epstein said to me when I told her I was a budding designer. “Don’t quit your day job!” This was not in response to my skill as a designer—she hadn’t seen any of my patterns—her point was that anyone trying to make a living of it would starve unless they had another means of support these days.

Though Knitting is now mainstream, and I credit Ravelry with being one of the bigger catalysts of this movement among the Internet savvy, making knitting your job would be hard in spite of the moving stories on various podcasts and blogs of people that have gone down that road. The fact is, most of them do have another means of support.

But I digress.

If you’ve read this blog before you probably know the only thing I purchase in larger quantities than yarn is patterns. Literally my Ravelry library is considerably larger than my stash–4200+ patterns at last count. I have books and magazines dating back to Vogue Knitting issues from the 40s. I collect patterns.

This might seem odd, given I can and often do create my own patterns. And despite being in high-tech and spending a lot of time (in the past) writing code, I do not use sweater designer software. Instead I prefer the creativity and error prone method of graph paper and swatching. In part, I attribute this to having inherited most of my stash.

I saw Melissa Leapman’s book 6000+ Pullover Possibilities, as a way to have my cake and eat it too. Firstly I love her designs—such attention to detail! I thought I could use her book to make my pastime a bit less frustrating—leaving more time for garment making and less time for scratching my head over pattern design and math. And I was half right.

On the positive, this book contains great sizing charts—so if I were to ignore Nicky’s advice and decide to become a designer—this would be a VERY helpful guide indeed. From XS to 4X they are completely spelled out and even over different gauges. Wowza! These charts alone make the book extremely helpful to folks on a stash reduction diet.

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What this book doesn’t contain is 6000 sweater possible sweaters. There are 3 sweater silhouettes, four sleeve styles, 6 collars and some “treatments”. If you do the math you could say you have 72, but these are all so similar and completely classic that the “possibilities” are closer to 4-5 actual designs.

Is it worth the $24.95? I’d say so. Especially for reducing the trial and error of stash busting. But I am just slightly disappointed that there aren’t a few more silhouettes—especially for more fashion forward designs, to really make this a “must have” book.

When I compare that to Sequence Knitting, which I turn to as a great reference guide, I’d have to say I stack rank it a bit higher. But perhaps that will change the more that I use it.

I Love Your Sweater!

Ah….

Music to a knitter’s ears.

Especially when you can come back with “I made it!”

Perhaps now is NOT the time to knit that ski sweater I’ve got my eye on. I’ve even knitted the swatch for a Slopes Pullover from the cover of KnitScene Winter 2016. But now, after hearing this sweater compliment when I checked into my hotel in DC, I’m thinking, ‘Why am I knitting a ski sweater and more woolen socks?’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to work on a nice cotton yarn?’

I’d reknit this “Perfect Periwinkle” sweater  by Stefanie Japel in a heartbeat now! Maybe even using a purple yarn like the fuchsia Bernat Panama Worsted Weight cotton I have in my stash.

And maybe I’ll make up my own cardigan pattern to go with it or modify her Off-Rib Cardigan to make it match. 😊

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Stefanie Japel’s Off-Rib Cardigan

Woolen Socks in Summer

After the prototype I got busy making socks out of vintage Ski Sweater yarn from Denmark that is no doubt much older than me. But this stuff is amazing! It’s called Brunswick Dansk Ski-Crepe and I had four colors that I inherited. I’m trying VERY hard to not buy new yarn and shop from my stash–but–and I know I’m not alone here. That’s a tough thing to do–especially when you didn’t buy it and don’t have enough for a big project.

The four colors were a grey that I made into a seed stitch beret; a red mixed with charcoal I made into socks for the man; a navy/forest green mix which are also now a pair of socks. In my stash, I still have a straight green, but of that, I have enough to make a sweater. Too bad it’s the color I like the least.

Nick shrunk the first pair by washing and drying them on hot, so now I have a very stout pair of new hiking socks. The second pair I knit longer and taller, but I fear they too will become mine. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

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It looks like I’m on the trend to knit summer sweaters in winter and now in the heat of summer I’m knitting wool socks.

I guess that’s just the way it goes.  

Prototype?

I’ve been going on and on about getting better at socks. Knitting bigger yarn on small needles is producing some wonderful results. I felt quite a bit better after watching a Very Pink Tutorial on reinforcing socks by Staci Perry when she said, “They say that there are as many stitches in a pair of socks as a ladies sweater.” Amen sista!

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Before I headed into this, I made a prototype pair that I never thought anyone (except maybe me) would wear. They were out of a skein ball of acrylic yarn I picked up for a song, Deborah Norville Everyday Soft Worsted Prints in Lava. My husband teased me and teased me about the colors. When I finished one he asked, “Aren’t you going to make a pair?” “I think I might not have enough yarn, but I suppose I can try.” And try I did.

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The “truth”

Once made, I took the picture above. And that was the last time I wore them because as soon as possible, he’d captured them and wore them constantly–that is when they weren’t in the wash.

The "hole" truth
The “hole” truth

Two things were the problem: firstly, they were not made of sock yarn, and second, there was no reinforcing in the heels, but the most hilarious thing is he so UPSET and absolutely MUST have a proper replacement pair—just like them. Somehow I’ve converted him, says he, to “lurid” colored socks.

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And nothing but the truth…

I spent hours looking for a hand painted yarn to replace them and finally found a limited supply, Webs only, similarly colored yarn with at 10X the cost. Zen Garden Serenity DK in Gypsy Rose. I’ll still have to reinforce the heel—because they are wool, but they will surely last longer than this sad pair. I highly recommend you give Staci’s YouTube video a watch for learning how.

Idle Hands

It was it a lazy weekend. I was really sick the week before and I was really trying to get well. I’ve got another pair of socks on the needles, but what was I doing? Looking up the cost of apartments in a couple of the buildings we saw getting renovated in Florence. And surprisingly, they were affordable. In fact it is cheaper to buy a place there than Seattle—by half! And I’m talking about walking distance to the Duomo with a view of the Arno. Of course many of them are centuries old and need some work…

Okay. Enough shillyshallying and daydreaming. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

 

Contentment

You know when someone tells you “That was one of the best days of my life?” Yeah. This was this day.

This is me, in Florence, Italy sitting in a wine bar with a balcony over the Arno river and I’m looking at the Ponte Vecchio. I’ve had the perfect amount of food and drink and I wishing this moment would never end.

I cannot believe it took me so long to get to Italy.

Contentment

What’s your best day?

Serial Knitter or Polyglot?

Do you knit one project at a time or do you feel a bit of unease if you don’t have several projects in the works? Well I’ve just wrapped up another pair of socks—I know, HUGE surprise, but more on that next time.

I must admit, I prefer multiple projects going at the same time, mainly because if I get stuck, I can simply pick up the other one. And since I’m always messing with patterns or creating new ones, I get stuck a lot!

Over the years being a polymorph has led to a variety of UFOs, but since joining Ravelry in earnest (I joined and then didn’t sign on again for several years), I’ve become quite the finisher. Not only is my stash available to shop, but I can shop others’ stashes as well if I run out of a yarn or dye lot.

Which are you?

When I’m on the mainland, my LYS is Serial Knitters and it hadn’t really set in what that meant until I composed this post.

PS: Here’s a photo of my latest leftie. I had a great time beading it after it was finished–especially the little brass starfish. I’m so happy to have found a neat little bead shop not too far from home called Bird Tail Beads. Yay!

The Surprises of Milan

Most people think of Milan is the “industrial” capital of Italy and they wouldn’t be wrong, The Italian headquarters for my company along with many other US-based tech firms is based there. And while I did manage to avoid “going to work” out of curiosity, I did see a great deal of what makes the city amazing–sites and fabrics.

I’m going to focus on sites first. And then show a few fabrics next time (need photos).

What was sorely lacking from the trip was knit shops and while I found a few here and there, they were either difficult to find, or yarn wasn’t their primary business so I left Italy (happily for my husband) with only the yarn I brought with me–which was, as usual for vacation–more than I needed.

Any vacation plans? Do they include knitting?