Wooly Skye

In Broadford on Skye, is The Handknitter Having Fun shop. I often find astounding deals of wool there. This year, since socks were my travel project, as if often the case, socks yarn was top of mind. And for another reason as well—I lost a just finished sock on an Edinburgh tram.

Wooly clouds on the Black Cuillins from the Sligachan Hotel

We time our visits to Skye to coincide with the climbing season. This year we were a week later than usual. I expected it to be warmer than it was two years ago when I brought long-johns and wished for t-shirts. This year the opposite was true. It was cold, rainy and blustery. I on one hike I was wearing almost everything I owned, soaked through and got blown off my feet by a gust of wind.

Reverse view from Loch Scaivaig on a sunnier day

Not to say the trip was a bust—not so! I was there for rest and the weather gave me time for knitting and a bit of shopping. I picked up three beautiful sock skeins and started another pair of socks, having brought two projects for the trip. Here are the three skeins which seem to be color inspired by the location.

Can’t wait to see how the socks turn out. Too bad they take so long to knit!

NOTE TO SELF: hand dyed—don’t use different skeins and expect them to look like the belong together. This said, in spite of cutting the skein in half and caking it in reverse, the Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball® socks I started are variegating in the most peculiar fashion. Even if I make that mistake, it won’t be *this* different.

Even with taking a ball in the middle and caking it opposite, these socks look VERY different from one another

And Then There Was One

I love travel. It’s a good thing, given I travel 33-50% for my work. This means I also like being at home when I have time off.

My husband has a love of Scotland that comes from his youth in the South of England. His father took him to the Isle of Skye when he was fifteen and every year or so, we go back. And for me, it’s all about the hiking and the wool.

The project I brought was a pair of socks using Knitpicks Felici in Stormy Sky (fitting for Scotland). It was a special striped run I’d picked some up at Stitches West last year. And I was so excited to finally use it and hopeful my husband would have a spare pair of socks for hiking.

We used Edinburgh as our basecamp for the trip. We only passed through the city—several times as we came and went from visiting friends and family in Southern England before we headed to Skye. I was just reinforcing a heel when our stop came and I thought I’d safely tucked the sock away, but when we got to the hotel, I was one sock short.

Yes. I did cry. But then I immediately picked up my needles and cast-on another pair.

You gotta get back on that horse and ride it! Am I right?

Hibernation Over–I hope!

You know you have them. Those UFOs waiting in the closet—sometimes for months and years. You know why you started them and there is even the hope that you’ll come back to them. Yes?

I’ve only once met someone who didn’t have any unfinished objects (UFOs) or a stash because she only crocheted one project at a time. Now she’s a normal person with both. I sometimes have phases of no UFOs. It feels both exhilaratingly hopeful and strangely empty.

This past week, we were doing the usual 3-hour weekly car commute and I needed a project FAST. I couldn’t find my “traveling” project—usually a pair of socks for my air travel carryon. For the car, a big project would have been fine, but I couldn’t lay my hands on the UFO I wanted, an easy and time-consuming afghan at the end of the commute. And given we were up against a ferry crossing, there wasn’t time to dither.

With husband a-foot tapping, there was no time to find a pattern, yarn, notions etc. so I grabbed a hibernating project. You might recognize it from this blog from February of last year, where I was stuck (sleeves). I skipped onto the button band collar where I felt more secure. But this got me to thinking about the different reasons for hibernating projects. Because there are a complex set of reasons for it—and they aren’t always the same!

So why do projects hibernate? I listed a few of my reasons below:

  1. Got bored (did you really want a project this easy?)
  2. Got tired (happens with LONG projects, small yarns, small needles)
  3. Got stuck (happens at transitions)
  4. Made a fixable mistake and will have to tear it back (otherwise you’d just frog it, no?)
  5. Got interrupted (the “shiny object” syndrome)
  6. Lost a key notion
  7. Didn’t get enough yarn, buttons, etc.…
  8. Can’t find the pattern
  9. Can’t find it

Though I’m a fairly organized person with lots of online patterns, the  last two happen more than I care to admit. My primary ones are 3, 4 and 5—probably in that order.

Which if these seems to be your most common? Are there others?

From a Toque to a Beanie in One Heat Cycle

There’s a lovely young lady that makes my protein shakes at the club where I work out. Every time I see her, it brightens my day. She calls me by name, remembers what I order and she’s 3 dimensional; she talks about her life, work and laughs at herself. In short, she’s a good soul.

One morning she was talking about wanting a hat now that the weather is turning cold and though she’d been looking she could not find one she liked.  “What color?” I asked. “A pretty dark blue; not as dark as navy”. She wanted She also it to be ‘slouchy.’ “You know what I mean?” “Yes,” I replied, “I do.”

And what better thing is there to do, than to use a skill you have for a good soul? Nothing. I was on a mission to make her a toque. It would only take a day or so and it would be a nice thing to do for a nice person. Colorwise, my mind instantly went to Azul Profundo by Malabrigo—but I worried about variation in the varigation—some skeins are lighter than others. Ordering it was a risk.

That weekend I was at Tolt Yarn and Wool with a friend from Yorkshire, UK and happened on Woolfolks’s Tov, 6 T. I knew the minute I laid eyes on it, that I’d found THE color. Heaven knows what 6 T means, but ‘in person’ it is a richly saturated darkish blue nearing teal without the inky blackness of navy. I paired it with a dark gray—also baby cashmere—Sublime Yarn–Tittlemouse.

I was so thrilled when I finished. It just needed a wash and a block, but it ended up in the drier with a few other superwash woolens when my husband did the laundry. Oh! No! Even still damp, I could see it had felted into a beanie—and not a toque that would fit the need. 

So, I’m on the hunt for replacement yarn and this time in a superwash wool. In the meantime, I’ve got a tiny beanie for my child-sized head.

*head shake*

Shades of Gray

It’s always a bit gray in the Puget Sound in the winter. Oddly this weekend and past it has been sunny, but my knitting starts haven’t. They’ve been gray, gray, gray.

I’ve been slow to post because I’m traveling a lot. And because I’ve returned to the road, I need small projects to take on my trips. My last pair of socks, two-at-a-time, toe-ups, were a perfect airplane project for two consecutive trips to DC and India.

This week I cast on the yarn Felici Stormy Sky from Knit Picks that I recently purchased at Vogue Knitting Live in San Francisco. Right now they are barely more than the Turkish cast on I learned at the event. But with all my international trips on the horizon, they will be socks soon enough!

I also cast on a hat for myself I call Greywurm. I’m using the Wurm pattern and two Sublime Yarn baby cashmere and silk grays—Skipper and Tittlemouse. Since it is a quick knit, it’s not a great travel project. But I’m dying to use these beautiful yarns I won in a Woolful drawing also want a “get ‘er done” project I can feel good about in the way I never do with socks or larger projects like the next one I started just last night.

The last project is another Squares Throw in Cascade’s Tivoli; color: Fog. My mother has been trying to get me to knit her an afghan in bright aqua, but I was drawn to this project because of how beautiful the brown one that sits at the end of my bed looks—and that this one was already in the queue (not that I stick to the queue order—ever).

This said, it will go great in the spare bedroom and it will make an excellent “lap” project for the car and ferry commutes to and from Orcas Island.

Though I always think I should knit summer things in winter, it just never turns out that way. All I can think about is getting and staying warm.

How about you? What’s your go-to winter project?

It’s the Big Stuff

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”, my mom’s favorite saying. And it is projects for her and lots of big projects dominating my knitting.

Domestic projects are still ruling the day. Mainly because they are simple and square. That’s about all I can handle right now.

And as I come to the end of another simple squares throw, I’m eyeing my next BIG project.

My mom has put in an order for a long bathmat and a chenille afghan. I let her pick out both colors from online and when they arrived, the gold of the cotton bathmat seems too subtle and the turquoise chenille of the afghan seems—LOUD. Just look at this Ice Yarns mountain!

I think I’ll do the bathmat first, because it will be quick and easy.

With the afghan, I’m hoping to use up a few more of my odds and ends; some dishie my husband didn’t like for kitchen towels and some sparkly stuff that grandma had in dribs and drabs.

And for my next trick?

Well, I’ve fallen in love with Purl Soho’s Shadow Study Throw. I found some Louet Gems on sale and though my first order didn’t quite work out, I think I’ve got a good plan for what comes next.

 

Weekend Knitting Double Header

You can get this cool quantum t-shirt at Zazzle.com

It’s been a CRAZY spring. I’ve been burning the candle at all three ends.

And what happens the minute you slow down—you get sick of course! And while I really dislike the brain fog and lost time of working on my teaching materials, I got a lot of knitting done while I was confined to bed with a nasty cold.

The good news is that I had several easy projects on the needles and lots of time where I could only really do mentally passive activities—simple knitting among them (TV watching being the other—reruns of The Expanse anyone?).

I finished another bathmat–this one for the island house bathroom, I’ve taken to called “Jeff’s bathroom” due to it being across the hall from the bedroom where the inimitable Jeff Dozier spent time with us during his knee convalesce. And a very simple mock turtleneck sweater design by Adrienne Vittadini  from an old Vogue Knitting Magazine. Vintage yarn for a vintage pattern.

I’m hoping my brain function returns soon, but for now, there’s nothing like knocking off a twofer of simple WIPs in my project queue.

Back to Square One

I did an Internet search on the topic “Knitting in the Dark”. Among the things I found were:

I, of course, immediately purchased the flashlight. And with good reason.

It so cold was this past winter, I started a “simple squares throw” for my bed–which seemed practical and easy. I chose this pattern not only for it’s simplicity, but also because I had made it previously and loved the look. Lately, I’m so mentally tired from overworking, when I pick up my needles it needs to be restful. IMG_3824

I thought I would be able to knit, not think. Except–that’s an oversimplification. I failed to think of another problem–that not only was I knitting in the dark with a dark yarn, but that sometimes even simple projects aren’t so simple when you are tired.

You know how they say that driving tired can make your reaction time slower–even more than if you’ve been drinking? The same appears to be true with knitting. You lack good judgement and just assume everything will be okay. After all, you tell yourself, “I’ve been knitting forever! Right?”

In this case, I would pull the project out of the bag and just knit whatever direction seemed right. And sometimes I got it wrong. So I created short row holes in the middle of a blanket that needs neither holes or short rows.

Earlier this week in the bright sunny light, I laid it out to survey my progress. I was so proud of how much progress was made on such a big project (it’s about 8′ across). I was about a 1/3 done (up about four squares). That’s when I noticed first one hole, two and then three. At first I tried dropping down 80 rows to an affected stitch and that’s when I realized how unfixable it was–I didn’t find a dropped stitch, I encountered a loop!  :-/

So tear, tear, tear it out I did, some 90 rows on a 8′ wide piece. /sigh!

It took a couple of days of ignoring it for me to come back around and reconsider it a worthy project. And now I’m, well, back to square one.

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Less is Not Enough

You know the saying, less is more? Well with yarn, more is still not enough.

It’s got to be stress, because another big box of yarn just arrived. I’m like “What???”

IMG_7262And yes, I ordered it. Between developing an online class on machine learning and keeping up with my busy work, and busier husband, I’m definitely on a retail therapy kick. I’ve begun to hate Amazon for showing me exactly what I cannot resist. ‘If you buy one more pair of funky leggings, young lady…’

I’ve expounded, at great length, the copious amounts of yarn I’ve got, but it was hard not to smile when this sunny box of brightly colored cottons arrived. Ever since I won a knitalong drawing for my George Hancock sweater from Woolful, Knit Picks has become my online standard when I’m not buying local. Cheap and high quality, what’s not to love.


These are for bathmats for here there and everywhere—including my parents house in Idaho.

But until I get around to knitting it up, I’d better find a place to store it.

UFO Sister- and Brotherhood

Aliens? No. Not that kind of UFO. There is, sadly, no abduction involved. Though sometimes I feel like my ever increasing stash of wool might carry me off.

Last time I talked about giving myself permission to have more than one project going at the same time. And I’ve done it—gotten over my head in projects. And as I look around at these works in progress (WIPs), I feel a little weighed down. It is as if they are all staring down at me saying, “Do you really think you’ll get back to me?”

If it isn’t obvious, I’m a perfectionist. Everyone that knows me, knows this is true. Whether I’m preparing a lecture or I’m knitting a pair of socks, I can literarily give myself an ulcer worrying if it isn’t just so. And this is, by and large, the only source of unhappiness for me, given my life is busy, full, and downright good!

Body image, learning new skills, investment for retirement, these are all sources of my endless frustration of coming up short of an unrealistic ideal—heaven forbid I read the news! And Nick, my dearest love, even posted a photo of me and my parents (the Joneses) with the tagline “Are you keeping up?” for most people that wouldn’t be an accusation. For me…? Hmm.

Unless it is a competition to have more WIPs than anyone else, I’m just keeping my head above water. And you know? I like it that way. That jolt of tension? It’s a good thing.

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My little surprise of joy today was finding that I’m just a couple of inches of easy knitting away from Nick having another pair of socks. The trip to Santa Fe with my parents, well, I must have gotten in more knitting time than I remember. If all goes well, he’ll be taking two pairs of my “lurid” hand knit hoof covers on his UK trip to “inspect” Margaret and Peter (his parents).

And with a glass of house Chardonnay from the Lower Tavern—I raise my glass in a toast to all of you with UFOs (unfinished objects) of all crafts and kinds.