Got the Blues

Boy was I sunny this weekend despite the rain. I finally did it. I talked to the resort next door and asked if they’d carry my knitwear. I’m so excited because they said yes! Then the blues set in.

I’ve considered setting up an online store and decided there was too much competition, not to mention the difficulties and cost to ship from the Island. Living in a vacation destination means people with disposable income visit—frequently. They often want to bring a piece of their experience back, so why not a practical item like a hat scarf, yoga hood, or scarf? Now all I need is a label and I’ve reached out to a local designer for assistance.

For supplies I’ve got scads of grandma yarn (free to me wool) to use for these small portable projects while I’m still commuting and flying around the world for the job that keeps a roof over my head and food on the table. Though I’d never really planned to make a profit, it is still good to have things to keep my hands busy and I’m a bit over hatted, scarved and mitted at the moment. As is my trusty husband.

YogaHood
Yoga Hood I am planning to sell at the resort next door

I’ve already posted about the Yoga hood I cobbled together from gift yarn—which will likely be the first item on sale. The next item I planned to show them was a matching hat and mitts I was making from leftover Tosh DK for my Woolful KAL George Hancock Home and Away sweater in lovely Worn Denim.

The mitts are no problem, because that is my own design. But as I was knitting the waffle hat I pulled out the pattern to look to see the decreases and to my disappointment the pattern says that it can only be used for personal use and non-profit use. And while I wasn’t planning on selling it for a profit (just cost) it seems like that would violate the disclaimer.  

While I completely agree that you should acknowledge where a pattern comes from. I can also completely understand not duplicating it and serving it up as your own design. Which is why the mitt pattern I created refers back to the Violet Waffles hat pattern as inspiration for their design. And while I completely get why you wouldn’t want a huge conglomerate (e.g., The Gap) taking a pattern and mass producing it as their own design, eliminating low-production, in-person sales of garments is a bit hard to understand. After all, the work of knitting it and the materials are my own. That said, this was a FREE pattern. So that might have something to do with it. I’ve written to the designer to ask her thoughts, just to be sure.

I’ll be sure to check this out before I knit up someone else’s design or design something to match. Another lesson learned the hard way!

I guess my sister-in-law will get this set. *sigh*

Mitts and Hat for the Strong Silent Type

My kayak instructor, a sage and serious young man, is a man of few words. When he speaks you want to listen, especially when you are on open sea. And since Nick and I have become weekenders on Orcas Island, he and his partner are folks we think of as friends.

One mitt done. The other a WIP. The small mitt (left) is the swatch.
One mitt done. The other a WIP. The small mitt (left) is the swatch.

The sage came to the island from the Northeast after his lovely partner decided she wanted to live here. And who wouldn’t! If I could figure out a way to afford to stay full time I would too. They make a go of it and I admit their tenacity. And with their joint help and that of the island shepherdesses, this might happen for me someday.

Finished Mitts
Finished Mitts

Along with partnership, comes shared laundry responsibilities. And like my Nick, his partner is sometimes less cautious with things that might need more care. Nick remembers to cold wash “technical” clothing, but doesn’t think about separating light from dark. So I’ve a load of once ivory, now gray, Lululemon tops. The sage now has smaller and denser woolens, like a Patagucci hat which now resembles a skull cap.

A perfect travel project!
A perfect travel project!

Upon hearing about the troubles (and seeing him try to force it on) I decided I should make him a set of mitts, to keep his hands warm while leaving his fingers free with a matching hat which would be wash and wear. In grandma’s stash was a worsted weight acrylic, called Softee. While the hand is not terribly nice, these yarns have their place. One is for a person in and out of saltwater all day.

I made with very few modifications—mainly making changes only when things were unclear in the patterns (like keeping the ribs vertical on the hat instead of a swirl pattern—see my Notes for details). They are Robbin Abernathy’s Simple Ribbed Fingerless Mitts and Tammy Burke’s Ribbed Hat.

Finished hat with mitts!
Finished hat!

What I’d do differently:

The thumb gusset on the mitts was a bit tighter than expected. This was acerbated by me adding more length to provide more thumb protection from the elements. I’d make the thumbhole bigger. I’d also figure out a way to have more of a K2P2 pattern. The one lone rib looks like it doesn’t quite fit with the rest and adding a second knit stitch might actually kill two birds with one stone.

The hat perfectly matches the mitts. The ribs worked okay, but not great—they are a bit wonky on the edges. Maybe that was my errata, but I suspect not. Could be a result of the yarn too. I’m tempted to start over as I have enough yarn to do so and treat this as a “sample”.

My Yarn in my Stash Must Be Breeding… Like Rabbits!

I’ve been doing a lot of knitting this year—more than in many years—trying to whittle down the Too Much Yarn—So Little Time stash. I’ve been on a trade/donation kick too. Ravelry shows my trades/gifts for the last 12 months at 28 (!). Two people approached me about hats and scarves for the homeless and got more than they bargained for (massive piles of yarn). Mostly vintage mohair and “virgin” wool.

Scheepjes Diamond 2/4
Scheepjes Diamond 2/4

Some yarns are so old, I’ve had a tough time finding the yardage and proper weights. This week I forensically discovered the weight of a Scheepjes Diamond 2/4 because even though the yarn wasn’t on Ravelry, a pattern for it was.

My most recent sale/donation was a gentleman from Chico, CA who is knitting wool socks for donation to a shelter. He didn’t tell me he was a charity knitter until after we agreed on a price so in addition to the skeins he requested, I stuffed a big box full before I sent it off which meant his funds only covered the shipping. And I friended him on Ravelry so that I can send more as I dig through the vast wasteland of my grandmother’s lifetime of knitting leftovers—mostly odd balls of worsted weight, superwash in 300-600 yard lengths. Enough that if I went into Etsy business of knitting hats, mitts and scarves (as I threaten to do), I wouldn’t need to buy yarn for years.

Natural (Undyed) Handspun Alpaca from Warm Valley Orchard
Natural (Undyed) Handspun Alpaca from Warm Valley Orchard

One of the Orcas Island shepherdesses, Maria Nutt of Warm Valley Orchard, suggested I start weaving. This after I told her I’d recently came across 1200 yards of beautiful (undocumented) natural color alpaca I bought from her more than 10 years ago. She even offered to bring by her loom to get me started.

I Found 11 Skeins of This Bucilla Yarn in an Unopened Box
I Found 11 Skeins of This Bucilla Yarn in an Unopened Box

And just when I think I’ve seen all of my collection and I’m sure I’ve posted it on all Ravelry, suddenly more appears. Two weeks ago I found in box that hasn’t been opened for three house moves which contained Eleven 100 gram skeins of pale yellow—2500 yards of it. How the heck did I miss it when I spent weeks photographing and cataloguing “everything” I owned last Fall?

So I’ve come to this conclusion—they must be breeding away—making new little skeins; growing them like nodes on the side of an epiphyte.

Partly this is because people also give me yarn. One friend I made a mock turtleneck for (nearly identical to this one by Karen Templer) gave me a small box of yarn from her grandmother. “She’ll know what to do with it”, her grandmother said. But I didn’t. I left it in that little white box for four house moves—never opening it after that afternoon tea with my friend–until now.

Unopened box of Angora
Unopened box of Angora

Last week, after years *blush* of it sitting as a box in a box, did I take a look at the magic inside. 17 colors—most shades of pink and purple—of worsted weight angora. They are mostly dribs and drabs—some as small as 30 inches the longest is a 99 yards of fuchsia, but I think they might provide “fuzzy” interest paired with a masculine color like burgundy or navy in a Sally Melville’s stashbusting Topher’s Pullover.

Dribs and Drabs of Angora
Dribs and Drabs of Angora
Four Shades of Pink
Four Shades of Pink
Three Shades of Purple
Three Shades of Purple
Baby Blue Angora
Baby Blue Angora
Pale Yellow
Pale Yellow
One of the Green Angora
One of the Green Angora
Fuschia
Fuschia
Unopened Kit for a Square Dance Sweater
Unopened Kit for a Square Dance Sweater

Another box I dredged out this weekend was a kit I’d tried to give it away without opening it. After my discovery of the angora, I got curious and opened it up. Wow! Another huge surprise. Inside a cheesy looking square dance sweater kit (my gramps and gram used to cut a rug to the caller at least once a week) was the most beautiful ivory colored Scheepjes wool with matching 7 matching colors for the little people dancing around the hem. And let’s not forget the cowhead buttons! Yee Haw!

Cattle Head Buttons!!
Cattle Head Buttons!!

I’m hoping that they measured on the generous side, because this is coming off the donate pile and going onto the looking for a good worsted weight pattern—maybe I’ll even mix them it into the Topher pullover and use the ivory for another sweater—possibly something from Madder 2 which I’ve been angling to dig into now that my Home and Away, George Hancock Cardigan, is done.

Directions for the Kit
Directions for the Kit

Sometimes my stash makes me feel tired just looking at it. Have any of you inherited or been given yarn, supplies, cloth and/or other items and wondered what to do with it?

Ivory Wool--the Main Color
Ivory Wool–the Main Color
Handful of the Wooly Colors
Handful of the Wooly Colors

Tying Up Loose Ends

Six projects on the needles—that’s where I was last weekend. I’m excited to say I’ve pared it down to three in just one week. And getting there wasn’t easy.

Big pillow Shams--still of WIP
These big garter stitch pillow shams are still a WIP

It’s been a busy few weeks—lots of travel, deliverables at work, and hardly any time for knitting. That, coupled with a setback, had me putting my creative self on hold—or so I thought.

What setback? I made a mistake I was careful not to make on my last sweater for Nick—I assumed that a single dye lot of a particular hand-dyed yarn, would be consistent enough to knit without alternating balls of yarn. Not so.

So there I was on a flight to Alabama and I lifted the window shade to discover that the back of my Woolful KAL (my first knitalong ever!) had a huge variation across skeins. Not only was the color off, but the sheen was completely different—a matte versus shiny in the Worn Denim Tosh DK. I’m going to keep mum on which project I’ve chosen because I’ve done “the usual”—many variations. This is partly because I loved so many patterns, I grabbed elements from more than one.

Obvious color change when I changed skeins
Obvious color change when I changed skeins

The upshot is that after nearly finishing the back panel, I had to tear it out and start over. This killed my motivation to work on it. I was so irritated at myself for making such a basic error. The project was going more quickly than expected, and I was thrilled until I discovered I was going nowhere fast. *sigh*

Finished Seahawks Wurm Hat
Finished Seahawks Wurm Hat

Though at the time it can be hard to see them, there are benefits to hitting a roadblock on a project. You can look at other projects, until you are ready to get back in the saddle again.

For instance, I finished my Seattle Wurm hat after first putting it in hibernation when I decided the blue yarn I’d chosen was just too itchy for a hat. A skein of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and I was off to the races again. This is presently acting as wall art in our home on Orcas due to the lack of pictures on the wall and the warm weather.

Sea-going Man Mitts
Sea-going Man Mitts

Then there are the Sea-going Man Mitts. I finished those today after quite a hibernation. This is a project, if I’d worked monogamously on it would have been finished in a couple of days. I just kept picking up that KAL instead—drawn to the softness of the yarn and beauty of the fabric. The acrylic feel of the Softee yarn from my grandma’s stash—a necessity for the project—just felt so foreign in my hands.

Knit basket. It's nice when a project holds its own materials!
Knit basket. It’s nice when a project holds its own materials!

I’ve also made good progress on another gad-about-bag, but after seeing the Triple Baskets pattern on Ravelry I decided to knit the top rather than crochet it. I’m hoping it will go faster and be more consistent than the one I showed in my last post.

I’ve got some dedicated knitting time coming up this week, so here’s hoping I can knock off at least one more this week.

Happy knitting!

My First Crochet Project

My Gadabout Bag
My Gadabout Bag

I know somewhere in the distant past I made a few granny squares in Junior High. So you might argue that this isn’t my very first crochet project. So perhaps a better way of describing it is that I’ve just created my first ever *usable* object.

The not-so-little Gad-about bag (I used 64 stitches instead of 48), designed by Dot Matthews, is my newest project bag. The Seahawks colors are unintentional. This is just what I had lying about of similar weight and composition. Though it could be that I’m subliminally drawn to the local sports team colors. I like to think I already liked this combination and that the correspondence is a coincidence.

The bottom of the finished bag inspired my wish to see what more
The bottom of the finished bag inspired my wish to see what more “mistakes” might look like.

My LYM (local yarn manufacturer) is Warm Valley Orchard (WVO) on Orcas Island. When I’ve bought a sweater’s worth of yarn I’ve been allowed to make a free selection from a hank ends pile. So between leftovers from various projects and these hank ends, I was building up quite a stash of unstashable yarns. I find WVO yarns to be stiffer than other yarns. Perfect for a sturdy bag.

I didn’t follow the directions exactly for the bottom, but I followed pretty closely for the top. And though it is clearly too tight in places, I must admit, I prefer the fabric from the not followed section better than the followed. The coil outward reminds me of a Panamanian hat. I wondered what it would look like if I just kept on going…

Bottom of the bag in progress
Bottom of the bag in progress

I was so pleased with my mods, I decided to immediately start on another bag. However I stopped work quickly after the bottom section because I really am anxious to get on with my next big project—a cardigan for me. Finally!!

You might also notice that the colors match fairly well the first project I put into it—my Woolful Summer knit-a-long Home and Away project, which is a combination of a Georgetown and a Hancock sweater from Hannah Fettig’s Home and Away book.

Georgetown-Hancock from Home and Away
Georgetown-Hancock from Home and Away made from Tosh DK in Worn Denim

If you’ve seen this beautiful book, you’ll know that Hancock calls for a sport weight yarn and Georgetown calls for worsted. One is cropped and the other is hip length. One described as a bottom up knit and the other top-down (though directions are provided in both styles for each). About the only thing they have in common is they are cardigans. I love design elements from both, so onward I go.

And as for the yarn. I’m officially madly in love with Tosh DK in this colorway.

Next on my Needles

A few of the projects I'm considering
A few of the projects I’m considering

With so many patterns to choose from and so much yarn in my stash, is it any wonder I have analysis paralysis?

Now that I’ve finished Under a Clear Blue Skye and frogged my Keeping Wurm in Seattle hat, I’m in a quandary. Sure, there is the palate cleanser WIP pillow cover project, but I’m bored with it because it is garter, HUGE and taking forever.

The pillow cover I'm working on
The pillow cover I’m working on

Adding to the dilemma is that I finally put almost all my pattern books in Ravelry. This was to stem be rebuying patterns I’ve already purchased in one form or another. This took a heck of a lot less time than the stash inventory, which was more than a week’s worth of photography and photo editing, to say nothing of the boxing and unboxing of nearly 200 yarns.

The upshot is I can now see that I have thousands of patterns. Combining that with yarn choices in my stash–if only I could manage to do that–makes the possibilities astronomical. To say nothing of the yarns I felt were in too small of quantity to catalogue. Those only clutter my mind…

Since much of grandma’s yarn is small bits of this and that (3-5 skeins), I can no longer blame grandma’s stash for the problem of having too much wool. When I buy yarn it’s usually wool and enough, each time, to make a roomy cardigan. So for a summer project I thought it would be time to dig into grandma’s “leftovers” and consider my options.

Even though I’m clearly Jonesing for cardigan I can wear on island—one preferably immune to the moths we’ve discovered infest the place–I set my mind on choosing something quicker, more portable and summery. Probably something I’ll finish just in time for the weather to turn cool.

It’s my way (the Tao of Kris) to always a season behind.

Here’s a pile of the things I’m considering.

Bernat Tropicale
Bernat Tropicale

The Tropicale is bright, soft and beautiful, but I couldn’t find just the right pattern for it. Same with the Brunswick Casablanca. I didn’t see many worsted weight summer wraps or cardigan patterns.  It’s back into the stash for those…

Man mitts for an ocean going friend
Man mitts for an ocean going friend

I’ve been angling to make a friend a pair of man mitts and I settled onRobbin Abernathy’s Simply Ribbed Fingerless Mitts as a pattern after MUCH searching. He works as a kayak instructor and needs those fingers to be free. His partner suggested a pullover style, but I worry that will just get in the way of his work. I also fear a natural fiber won’t hold up to the rigors of his near constant ocean going adventures. He’s a “man in black” type and I’ve got enough of Bouquet’s Softee Knitting Worsted Premium to knit 10 pairs—at least!

Frogged Keeping Wurm in Seattle hat
Frogged Keeping Wurm in Seattle hat

I could pick up the frogged Wurm, but I’m too annoyed by the light yarn showing through on the dark when I carry it. It may be that the yarns just aren’t compatible and it will take too much non-knitting time to sort out. So I think this one gets a pass, for now.

Leftie has long been on my list and since I found out I have less of the Bernat Carioca than I thought (a hazard of discontinued grandma yarn) this would be put to better use as a scarf than a sweater. Combining the neutral colored linen with a beautiful Melrose Italian silk in scarlet. Seems promising!

Leftie by Martina Behm
Leftie by Martina Behm
Linen and Silk for a Leftie?
Linen and Silk for a Leftie?
A new design as well as a new garment?
A new design as well as a new pair of mitts?

I’ve also been angling to create a shorter version of my fingerless Warm Waffle Mitts out of a spare half ball of Tosh DK in cathedral. I’d have a new pattern I can use AND another pair of mitts. What’s not to like?

Jayne in Chica Cola
Jayne in Chica Cola

I could also knit a (yet another) Hitchhiker scarf. I’ve been meaning to make one for Nick’s oldest daughter out of the Valkyrie Yarn & Fibre Jayne I actually *did* buy for that very purpose last summer and haven’t gotten around to doing yet. The advantage here is that I’d have a gift at the end and I won’t be disappointed by missing a time window. It would be easy to do on my ferry commuting as well.

Purl Soho Notched Hem Tank Top
Purl Soho Notched Hem Tank Top

The project I’m leaning most towards (as evidenced by the time spent thinking about it) is Notched Hem Tack from Purl Soho. I started out swatching with the Carioca, which is how I discovered I didn’t have enough for the project. I then moved onto Reynolds Clover (yet another discontinued grandma yarn) and while the color is summery and the yarn soft and sweet, I just don’t like the color with my skin tone which means it would also be a gift—but for who? Not to mention I’m feeling a bit selfish after the massive Skye project eating up so much of my needle time.

Brunswick Coolspun DK
Brunswick Coolspun DK

I’ve been holding in reserve (because I do have quite a bit) some Brunswick Coolspun linen in the color Olive Pearl. Yes, it’s a thicker, and yes I could do something more substantial than a shell, I didn’t find a different pattern, so perhaps this will be a Notched Tank for me. Something says, this is the yarn for that pattern despite the difference in yarn weight. But is it the project for the summer?

That remains a mystery—for now.

Update: I selected the man mitts. Quick enough to finish in a weekend leaving me clear headed to select the next major project.

So Much Yarn–So Little Time

Confession time. I’m drowning in yarn.

I have a huge cache of yarn. And that’s an understatement. Oddly I lust for more. And “How did you acquire so much?”, you might rightfully ask. Two reasons:

  1. My grandmother purchased most of it
  2. I purchased yarn myself that I wanted, but didn’t have a project in mind for (at the time).

I’m about to attend the first Stitches West that I’ve been to in 10 years. And why haven’t I been going? To avoid acquiring more yarn.

Let me first explain the grandmother bit above. She was an avid knitter. If you saw her without knitting needles in her hands she was either drinking coffee or making/eating food. Every year I got between 4 and 10 sweaters, most of which I donated to goodwill when I went back to graduate school and divested myself of most my worldly belongings. Meanwhile, grandma was slowly losing her wits. And one day in a moment of clarity she asked the yarn be boxed up and given to me. Why? She’d forgotten how to knit. Alzheimer’s can do that to you. She remembered I’d picked up needles in my 20s to deal with my stressful travel/work schedule, but only for those few hours.

Mercerized Cotton
Mercerized Cotton

I flew back to Boise, Idaho to get my truck, drove to Pocatello (my place of birth) and bagged up closet, drawer and attics bursting with yarn. Nine 32 gallon bags completely stuffed, compressed and thrown into the back of Ford Ranger. When these were unpacked, sorted, and stacked Tucson, I realized I had more yarn than a yarn shop. Piles and piles of it. Some already partially knitted. Some of it water/fire damaged. Some of it only odds and ends. Much I recognized as leftovers from sweaters she’d knitted. She effectively bought out store closures of their entire stock.

Several reduction ideas immediately occurred to me. I boxed up many of her notions and some of the colors I couldn’t bear to look at—especially if they were in unable to be dyed fibers—and sent them to a women’s correctional facility in NJ who was specifically asking for yarn and tools to knit with—four boxes of it. Another two boxes—mostly of singleton skeins and the rest of her Boye aluminum straight needles I gave to a local nursing home when I moved to Seattle. That left me with about 2/3 of the original.

Taking advice from Sally Melville’s first book helped be do away with quit

Acrylic and woll
rylic and woll

e a bit more, but time was ticking and I wasn’t really making a dent in it. In the Fall of 2014 I got laid off of work. I was rehired, but took a two month leave to “recover”. During that time I photographed the yarns and started posting them and my more recently completed projects on Ravelry. I’d always been a casual user until those two months, now it is rare that a day goes by without me being on it or introducing someone to the site.

My first mistake was not adding prices. This got me bumped from a group where you could post. Then, not having a blog (as you can see this one is recently addressed) worked against me. I needed a place to post my designs and yarns where they could persist. So here we are. What prompted me to move on this was that I found ANOTHER box of yarn in a clear plastic container that I had not catalogued, photographed and posted in my stash. Might there be more? Anything is possible.

Mercerized cotton
Mercerized cotton

I’ve had pretty good luck just posting on my stash under ‘will trade or sell’. But this site I plan to dedicate to designs I’ve created myself to use up the stuff and to the yarns themselves—several of them may pre-date WWII. Some so old, they just say “Ribbon Yarn” rather than having a name. Most from foreign countries. Many, simply one offs. What is left is beautiful and what I want to do is share. Enjoy!