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?

 

Variation on a Theme

My Quickie Caplet pattern keeps taking on “new life”. It’s such a simple pattern that you can do pretty much anything with it and still come out with a handy shoulder warmer.

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This one is for a co-worker of mine. I’m calling it Swanky Caplette since one of the yarns is Red Heart’s Swanky which adds a bit of sparkle when the light catches the little metallic beads in the yarn.

I started out using a pattern from Sequence Knitting a K2 P2+1 modified rib—and planned to make it a spiral, but on a decrease row I must have had a reversal, because I realized the following morning after a night knitting session in front of the TV, that it was spiraling the other way.

No worries! I just counted the rows and completed another set before turning around and going the original direction—and Voila! It looks like I meant to do it that way, no?

Welcome to my world of ad hoc knitting! I love creating a unique piece every time!
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By the time you read this, I’ll be in Italy hopefully hitting some of the great knit shops in Milan. It’s my first time to Italy and I cannot wait!

The Leap You Get From Frogging

“You can turn that back into string?” asks Watson—a non-knitter looking at one of my failed experiments and the potential recipient of the objects d’art in question. And while we knitters like to think of “the string” as yarn or wool (no matter what it is made of) it is basically that—balls of twine that can be made into clothing or household objects.

Frogging is simply taking made articles of knitwear back into the components of what they are made of to be remade into something else. I love the work of Grid Junky who literally buys old clothes (even jeans) from thrift stores and turns them into beautiful new things.

Lately I’ve had quite a few things that just didn’t turn out as I’d hoped. My First Crochet Project: The Seahawk Gadabout Bag. As you can see from the photo, it grew wider as it got taller. This is in part because I added a stitch each row (as directed by the pattern)–but didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t an add, but a “close the loop” stitch. I have it somewhat balled up. I didn’t want to go all the way back to the base, but I might have to because I can’t remember what size hook I used. How terrible would it be if I tossed the whole thing in the trash?

I’d mentioned I was Christmas Knitting for my Crew. Needless to say, I missed that target.

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The ball in between the article and the skeins is the frogged portion of the project.

One was a capelet based on my Big Needle Caplet I was knitting for a friend. I was trying to create an interesting pattern, but the bigger the item got, the more wonky the pattern looked. Also because it was a partial rib pattern, instead of increasing smoothly, it was smaller on the more heavily ribbed parts and wider on the less ribbed. So out it was pulled. I’ll be checking out Sequence Knitting for a better fabric.

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Then there was the Bias Scarf for Sushma. That was finished and turned out very well. Only it was finished *after* Christmas.

The one I started and finished first was the Cabled Shrug for Watson which sadly barely fits my tiny “girls” and will definitely not go around Watson’s robust bust. I modified significantly from the original—thinking to “update” the “look” and the result is that because I used garter instead of ribbing has a big bulge under the arm and across the back. So while the Watson Shrug was my first project started back in the Fall for my friends at work, it will end up being the last one I complete. It’s on my list to frog and quite likely will be a different shrug based on another pattern from Sequence Knitting. img_5382

This said, I think it is totally worth it to frog things and feel there is no shame in turning things “back into string” when they don’t work out.

Try, try again knitters!

I’d love to hear about your ups and downs of frogging!

Sunsets–its THE thing about West Beach

Everyone agrees—islanders and visitors alike—that the best sunsets on Orcas Island are seen from West Beach. People drive, walk, bicycle, jog, kayak, even hitchhike just to take in the view.

On a clear day, with no clouds, the sunsets are rather banal, but when there is weather—and in particular a forest fire on the mainland—the sky lights up with some of the most amazing colors.

I thought I’d just post a few of the memorable ones from summer until now.

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Basket Rib Socks – The Finish Line

Well, they are done. And given how much work they took, I consider this the completion of TWO projects. With this being the third pair, it is surprising it was harder—especially since I used the same guide—Socktacular! by Knit Picks. This time I chose the Basket Rib Socks.

One element was the yarn–Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool in Shades of earth. It had unexpected knots and anomalies (the size varied from light fingering to worsted). That variation resulted in one sock being slightly shorter than the other—despite being the exact number of rows. It also had MUCH more color variation than it appeared, so my idea of knitting a sock with individual skeins means that the sock almost look as if they don’t belong to one another—except by texture.

The mitigation would have been to alternate rows as I’ve done on other projects. And this was one project I was NOT going to tear out *another time* in spite of the $65 price tag for the yarn. See How Many Times Do I Have to Knit THIS Sock? for details.

On the upside, I did manage to perfect purling via continental style, whereas before I was really only good at knit stitches, with purls being a bit loose. So as always, there is a silver lining! I’ve added another skill to my tool belt. 🙂

Added any new tools in your took belt lately?

Smitten Ain’t Quite Fittin’

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This project started out in the warm early Fall (Summer Knitting in Winter) when I was wanting a T-shirt to wear in navy, but honestly could not find a pretty fitted one to purchase. Though I’m now back on mission to “buy local” and make things instead of buy them. My money pit of a house might be partly responsible.

I’m replacing the siding and they disturbed the bats living in the soffits who when frighten took refuge in my attic. At night, they crawled out of my heat lamps in the bathroom. Imagine having a bat circling your ceiling fan! I literally slithered out of our bedroom on my belly until the husband had shooed it outside! It was the harmless small Western Brown bat—the kind that gobble up mosquitoes, so I like them around—just not zooming around dive bombing my head in my bedroom.

Back to knitting…

I love the Smitten Tee pattern and it was free, so what’s not to like! I also modified it to fit my taller frame, but I think I got a bit carried away. It turned out a bit bigger than expected and a bit longer too. But all in all, I count it a major success. I used up all of my vintage yarn–beautiful Italian Lane Borgosesia Cotone del Borgo. OR at least the navy color.

I’m curious if anyone else’s experiments have had good/bad/so-so results.

How Many Times Do I Have to Knit THIS Sock?

Socks! Socks! Socks! The bane of my knitting existence! How can such a small project be so challenging to a long time knitter? I swear they ARE worse than a poke in the eye with a sharp size 1 knitting needle!

I’ve made a commitment to give this a go for lots of reasons and frankly they ARE an extremely portal project. When you commute (hands free) a long distance to and from work, this is a Must Have feature. And even though they were hard for me, so far I have managed to complete two pairs—one for me and one for my husband. Just 4 little socks in all.

Oddly the first pair went okayish—a top down reasonable simple pattern from KnitPicks Sockacular! I found a bug in the afterthought heel pattern, but quickly sorted that out.

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Just starting out

Then I knit a toe up pair from the same book ones for me I had *crazy* problems. Like a strand crossover on the heel—just for one single stitch. How the heck?!? You might ask. I don’t know! So after finishing—literally casting off—I had to tear it back to the instep. I was so frustrated I knit the other sock to completion (in only 3 tries) before tearing it out the first one just to make sure I wanted to complete the project at all.

And toe up? I cannot cast on a single sock without tearing it out at least five times. top count? 10 tries. I’ve watched different methods on YouTube, read up on it, nothing helps except try, try, try, try some more, try, try again. Each toe is a painful reminder that there has to be an easier way.

On my present pair I’m on the 12th cast on, third heel and the 6th instep of a Basket Rib patterned pair. By now, I’ve surely knit enough fabric to create thigh-high stockings for Boban Marjanović of the Detroit Pistons or hip wader liners for Ryan Pickett of the Green Bay Packers.IMG_5400.JPG

I’m going forward—there is no turning back with the myriad of sock yarns I’ve purchased to quench my husband’s new found hankering for ones made by yours truly. So if you know of the truly EASIEST sock pattern for sock (fingering) yarns. I’m all ears!

Dr. Seuss Capelet Pattern

This pattern is based on my Quickie Caplet pattern. As with that one, it holds multiple yarns together and uses big needles to make it a quick, fun knit. The one pictured above is the Long length. All versions have three “furry” rows, but in the medium length version, they are narrower and the collar is slightly shorter.

Why Dr. Seuss? Well, you can dress it up a bit by bunching it up over a frock and you might resemble Seuss’s character Foona-Lagoona Baboona. If you wear it poncho style over casual clothes or a jacket you’ll fall somewhere between the Dr. Seuss birds the Goo-Goo Goose or a Pelf.

Enjoy!

Downloadable pattern: 2017-dr-suess-caplet

Needles: a 32” circular needle–size 17.

Yarns: 2 skeins Red Heart Super Saver and 3 skeins Red Heart Fur Sure

Gauge: stockinette holding two strands of Red Heart super saver together 7 sts over 4 inches

Fuzzy rounds are created by holding one strand of Fur Sure together with one strand of Super Saver. Plain rounds are created by hold two strands of the Super Saver alone.

Pattern: Medium length (Long length)

Cast on 72 (88) stitches holding one strand fur yarn and one strand worsted plain yarn together. Join yarn to knit in the round, placing a marker.

Continue in the round using a K2P2 rib (all fuzzy rows are ribbed) for 6 (8) rows. Decrease one stitch at marker each row (on fuzzy rows only) to hide reductions.

Row 7 (9) drop Fur Sure and pick up another strand of smooth yarn (two smooth yarn strands held together. Knit in stockinette for 6 (8) more rounds even (do not decrease on smooth/stockinette rows to hide decreases).

Repeat rows 1-12 (1-16)

Row 13 (17) drop one strand of smooth yarn and pick up the furry strand. Rib for 6 (8 rows). Decrease one stitch at the marker each row.

Row 19 (25) Drop furry yarn and holding two smooth yarns together knit in K2P2 rib for 10 (14 rows). Do not reduce.

Row 29 (39) Cast off loosely

© Kristin Tolle. This pattern is freely available and without restriction to all would be capelet makers and Dr. Seuss lovers!