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?

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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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

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!

Where’d It Go? or Seller’s Remorse

My stash is prodigious. It’s mine and my grandmothers with a few of my friends’ grandmothers thrown in. There was a time, in the not too distant past, that knitting was a dying art. So when people saw me knitting, I would get given all the spare yarn that hadn’t been used up.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

One Fall when I was on sabbatical I took to photographing and cataloguing all of my yarn—at least the small portion of it that remained after I donated most of it to charity—about 75%. But don’t let that fool you, I’ve still got an immense supply which grows every time I go to a knitting event—much faster, I might add, than I can possibly knit it with a very busy full time job that never seems to end at the end of the day.

To second the Ravelry post on January 6th by MaryHeatherB “Tip: 3 Things to do on Ravelry in the New Year”, Tip #1 is to catalogue your yarn on Ravelry. I highly recommend that you go through the exercise. Now I tend to shop at home because I know what I have and in what quantities. And now that you can “slurp” in photos you won’t have the added hassle I had in photographing 200 yarns.

I’ve been knitting things for the women members of my team and trying to pick up a few new skills along the way leveraging free patterns on Ravelry. One didn’t go so well. I attempted to give Aran Cabled Shrug in Kaya Wool by Crystal Palace Yarns a more modern look by switching the ribbing to garter and adding increases to compensate for the lack of give. I love how it came out, but feel it is a bit too misshapen to give away—not to mention way too small for its intended receiver. I’m still trying to work out a closure for it that helps hide the underarm “bump”.

Next I turned to a different project that I ended up falling in love with—a Bias Scarf by Shelby Dyas. It came out so pretty (and heavy) that it hard to part with. I bought some Lion Brand Homeland in Bryce Canyon and paired it with an unidentifiable yarn in my grandma’s stash—a slick, nylon, ribbon yarn in burgundy by Malibu Mark which reminds me a lot of Anne Blatt’s Antique.

That’s when I got the idea to make a shrug from the pattern—a square you can wear. If it were wider it would be perfect and I knew of just the yarn to pair up with a bit more ribbon yarn—but this time of KNOWN origin, Lane Borgosesia Diamante in a variegated black-taupe-white and/or solid black. On the hunt I went and I came up empty. I searched by stash and it was not to be found. Where was it? I sold it!  And no doubt now these two beauties are probably knitted up, possibly together, in some gorgeous creation.

And there was this VERY old Berroco Glace variegated cotton-blend ribbon yarn which barely deviated from white in the palest of pinks and blue. I was purusing Ravelry, as I often do on weekends, and found a great summer top to use it up with, feeling so proud to be shopping in my stash. Firstly, I couldn’t find it in my stash, but I was certain I still had it so I went to my storage rack… Gone! Well, it wasn’t my color, I rationalized. Er, um. *sigh*

I’m happy to have them get used and there was no telling when I would have used them, so it’s for the best, of that I’m certain. What it did get me to do was “rethink” my trade or sale portion of my stash on Ravelry.

Purposeful Purchases–or not!

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to Stitches West I go!

I was on the fence about it, but I decided I needed to spend some time with my fellow stitchery folks at Stitches West. Not to mention I am way overdue for some time off from work.

Last year felt a bit solitary, but this year I managed to stay at the conference hotel and run into lots of singles—not unmarried folks—but knitters there on their own. So each night I had dinner with a different crafter from a different part of the country. It was MARVELOUS fun.

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Zauberbal Sock Yarn in Harvest, Stonewash and Heilix Bleche

This year I had plans in place to avoid the purchasing frenzy that happened last year (mostly project bags). So while I waited for the Marketplace to open on Thursday night, a couple of other “singles” and I swapped strategies (over Chardonnay) for keeping ourselves in check. Mine was, don’t buy anything you don’t a project in mind for and no more bags, which for me meant I could buy a few sock yarns—which I did.

A half hour after the market opened we moseyed over and subsequently threw all those strategies to the wind, dashing from aisle to aisle, burdened by purchases. Perhaps abstaining from alcohol before visiting the Marketplace should be next years’ strategy.

The Stitches organizers were far from sympathetic self-proclaiming to be “devils” and querying what was in our bags as we left the market floor. But as we all know those are really in the details of what to knit next!

I have excuses for each purchase. Miss Babs was because of a scarf my neighbor made out of it in my Ridge Heddle Weaving class. The Malabrigio is screaming to be made into a Spiral Staircase Scarf for resale at the resort next door (no restrictions!). Though I have to call “uncle” on the Louisa Harding. That was simply a fabulous price and fills a hole in my stash for light fingering projects.

Next week I’m back to work, but for now I’m hanging out at home dreaming of what to make and filling up my queue on Ravelry!

Happy knitting!

 

 

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”.