Knitting

July is Dressed Up and Playing Her Tune

There is nothing like an old song to bring the memories flooding back, is there?

Today's post really needs a soundtrack . . . but you'll have to click here to listen because I couldn't embed the video (any video). That is . . . if the title of this post didn't already conjure that song in your brain. Remember that song? Summer Breeze. Seals & Croft. It is just a major, major nostalgia tune for me . . . bringing back one of my best junior high school memories. C'mon back to 8th grade with me for just a minute, okay?

There I was. . . gawky in my Olive Oyl body, with braces on my teeth, and hair that was trying hard to be like Marcia Brady's (but not cutting it) (at all), quiet and concerned all.the.time about saying/doing/wearing something stupid . . . and wishing for so much more (like a teenage sitcom life). And then, one day after band class, Nick Mizell asked me to stop by one of the band practice rooms after school. What could he want with me? I mean . . . Nick was suuuuper cute. Very cool. A drummer with dreamy hair. So very far out of my league. But I went to meet him anyway, hoping it wasn't going to be some embarrassing prank. I played it really cool - just in case - and tried my best to look like I was just casually down by the band room, y'know . . . looking for some sheet music, after school (like one might do in a teenage sitcom life).

But, no. He did actually want me to meet him. He and a couple of other band guys (Steve and Jay) were all set up in this practice room with Nick's drum set. (Steve played an electric guitar, and Jay had his trumpet). They were practicing for the school talent show, and they wanted me to listen while they played (you guessed itSummer Breeze. And it was so awesome! I'd never seen a drum set up close. Or an electric guitar. And it sounded so good, so . . . exotic! (Not to mention how exotic these boys were to me.) And you know what they wanted? They wanted ME to play my flute in their group for the talent show. Seriously. I thought I had absolutely DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN. Like I was freaking Grace Slick or something! This was one of the highlights of 8th grade for me. (Right up there with the night Alan Richardson asked me to couple skate at the skating rink . . . and then skated with me the whole night long.)

Anyway. Big nostalgia for me . . . that song.
(Oh. We didn't win the talent show, but we did get far enough along that we got to play in the school assembly.) (And, unsurprisingly, Nick was only interested in my flute playing and ignored me for the rest of time after that.)

That's a long story. . . and not really what I was planning to blog about today at all.
But I've always loved that song!
And I heard it on the radio just as I started to knit this summer tank top.

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Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and wearing a tune

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Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin' through the jasmine in my mind

It's kind of nice . . . when your summer knitting project brings a welcome song and fun memories for each stitch!

I can't play it on my flute anymore, but . . . 
Eat your heart out, Nick.

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For details and more photos, click here for my Ravelry project page.

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And don't forget to visit Kat to check out more Unraveled posts today.


Summer Ease

I am all about the ease this summer. 

No big plans. No big events. No big expectations. Just . . . ease.

Relax.
Enjoy.
Kick back.
See what unfolds.
And drink it in.

That's my plan.

My knitting right now is all about ease, too.

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This is the back piece (now complete) of this summer tank top. The yarn I'm using - Berroco Mantra (stonewash variety; it also comes in solid colors) - is 100% silk. It knits like a dream. It drapes like a dream. I'm hoping it fits like a dream. 

It's a perfect project when your goal is . . . summer ease.

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How about you?
What are you making right now?

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Be sure to visit Kat today for more Unraveled posts.


You're My Blue Sky

[Click here for accompanying soundtrack.]
(As if the song hasn't already started playing in your head. . . )

This time, I managed to hit the sweater/weather match right on the nose!

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I actually knit a wool sweater I can wear for the next couple of weeks (given the current local forecast). This is a looser gauge, kinda swing-y sweater that screams "spring" to me -- especially in this particular yarn colorway. (It's called "Mother Earth" and it's from Miss Babs.) It's perfect for cool, spring weather -- when you still want to ward off the chill, but want to feel breezy and . . . not like "winter carnival." (Y'know?)

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You're my blue sky,
you're my sunny day.
Lord, you know it makes me high
when you turn your love my way.
Turn your love my way . . .

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You can find all the details here on Ravelry if you're interested.

And . . . here a little treat. You can watch the Allman Brothers perform Blue Sky (my favorite Allman Brothers song, by the way) for a little lift in your day!

 


When Spring Gives You Snowflakes . . .

There has been some knitting happening here . . . 

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Nice and springy. (Just ignore the fact that as I took this photo out on my back patio, snow was falling.) (Spring is so very fickle.)

The pattern is Sun Dog by Laura Aylor. (Here's a Ravelry link.) It's a great spring sweater, and by the time I finish, the weather should be Just Right. (That's my story and I'm sticking with it.)

What are you making these days?


Playing Those Mind Games

[Click here for a soundtrack to accompany today's post.]

Sometimes, with knitting, it's really a . . . mind games . . . kind of thing.

Will these colors work for this design?
Do I have enough yarn?
Will it fit?
Will I wear it?
Do I have the skills?
Can I persevere through the hard parts?
 . . .  and the boring parts?
And, of course, there is that whole gauge thing.

It's always nice when it works out in the end.

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We all been playing those mind games forever
Some kinda druid dude lifting the veil
Doing the mind guerrilla
Some call it magic the search for the grail

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Yep. This time, I found THE GRAIL!

Of course, now that I've finished, spring has arrived in my corner of the world (it was in the upper 70s yesterday!), so I will be packing this sweater away until fall. 

Mind games, I tell 'ya!

(You can find all the details on Ravelry, here.)

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A few of you asked me last week how I divide up the "progress bars" for my projects. I'm here to tell you . . . it ain't rocket science! With some projects, there are a clear number of steps (or zones or whatever), and it is easy to divide a progress bar into those steps. With other projects? It's a bit trickier. Knitting projects, for example. I mean, I know you could go through the trouble and the maths to figure out how many stitches you'd be knitting in any given project and create a bar that reflects that. But, for me, in a project, I divide it into chunks of work that make sense for me. For a top-down sweater, the project chunks generally look like this:

  • Get ready: gather materials/needles, wind yarn, mark up pattern, do a gauge swatch, etc.
  • Cast on and get yourself "situated" with the start
  • Divide for sleeves
  • Body
  • Sleeve 1
  • Sleeve 2
  • Cast off, weave in ends, block

Of course, those project chunks are not equal in terms of time and effort, but . . . they work to move the project forward anyway.
(So, basically, I fudge it.)
Hope that helps.

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Be sure to hop on over to Kat's for more Unraveled posts today.


Progress: A Visual Representation

I talk a lot about the "stuff" I'm working on.
Projects, mostly.
Chores, sometimes.
I thought it might be fun . . . to create some sort of visual representation to show you how I'm progressing. Y'know . . . in kind of an Old School way.

Like . . . this.

Here's the sweater I've been working on for a while now.

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It's almost finished, as you can see by my "progress bar." (Maybe also because it's just missing a cuff.)

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It was so much fun (well, "fun" may be a stretch here) - let's say . . . satisfying . . . to color in that progress bar that I decided to try it with more projects!

Like . . . my spring garden bed clean up.

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My garden is . . . a lot. (I've identified - and named - 17 "zones" in my garden.) (Maybe I'll blog about that someday.)  Anyway, I am thrilled to be able to start cleaning up my beds so early in the spring this year. It doesn't usually happen this way. (Often, at the end of March there is still snow covering my garden beds.) So. Even though my "progress bar" indicates I've barely gotten started, the fact that I HAVE already started is huge progress. (And now, even if it does snow again, at least I've begun.)

I also made a "progress bar" for my green overalls project.

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This was really heartening for me, because it feels like I've been sewing and sewing and not getting very far. But . . . the "progress bar" shows that I'm almost to the half-way point. (There are 47 steps in the pattern. Each "square" in my "progress bar" represents roughly 3 steps.) So far, I've spent a lot of time on pockets (there are 5 of them), and they are rather particular. I suspect smoother sailing from now on. (Although the way the straps join in a VERY particular way in the back could slow me down a bit. . . )

And then . . . there's my last "progress bar."

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I'm chipping away! I (almost) finished a major chunk of the work yesterday (closing the books for Tom's consulting business), so I should make quicker progress now. (And, yeah. I know the filing deadline was extended. But we still have a meeting with our financial folks next week, so . . . not extended for me.) Expect that "progress bar" to be completely filled in by the weekend, though.

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You'll perhaps notice that I don't have a "progress bar" for my spring cleaning.
(Hmmmmmmm. . .)

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How about you? What projects (and chores) are you working on?

 

 


When Knitting = Grumpy: Figuring Out the Formula

Usually, I start my morning with some knitting while I sip my coffee. And then I pick it up again in the evening, usually while I watch something on TV with Tom. It's such a nice, relaxing way to begin the day -- and wrap up the day. I find it calming and relaxing and centering.

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Except . . . when I don't.

For the last week, I've been knitting the colorwork portion of the sleeves on my latest sweater, and it turned out to be a total Knitting GrumpFest!

But not for reasons you might think. I mean . . . everything is working out splendidly, gauge-wise and fit-wise. So that's all good. Yet . . . I was finding No Joy in my knitting last week. Every time I picked up my sweater, it was just . . . ugh.

So I decided to stop and analyze: What was it, exactly, that was making me so cross about knitting those damn colorwork sleeves? 

Well.

First . . . I enjoy knitting when everything "feels right." I like nice needles with smooth joins. I like having the "just right" number of stitches on the needles so I don't have to have scrunch up the stitches overmuch -- or deal with having the uncomfortable s-t-r-e-t-c-h of having an almost-but-not-quite-enough number of stitches on the needles. I hate "kinky" cables, and I especially hate cables that are too long for the project I'm knitting. For sleeves, I almost always just use my double-points, and that's usually fine, although sometimes I use "magic loop"-ing. But with colorwork, double-points don't feel exactly right (those floats), and magic loop? Well. That brings us to . . . 

Second . . . I am not a huge fan of tangles when I knit. I like stripes and fair isle colorwork, so I can deal with SOME tangling. But let's just say . . . you won't find me knitting a lot of intarsia. I decided to knit my sleeves using the magic loop method, but discovered that looping magically AND colorwork make for lots of tangled yarn. And that pretty much made me lose my $h*!. So. Double-points for me. Still a lot of yarn-wrangling on every round, but at least I wasn't also fighting the extra cable "loop."

Third . . . You may remember that I'm already not terribly fond of knitting the sleeves in the round on top-down sweaters. All that twisting and turning. So tedious. 

So. There's my answer to why I wasn't finding joy in my knitting last week:

Didn't Feel Right + Yarn-Wrangling/Tangles + Twisting/Turning = Grumpy Knitting

That's the formula!
No worries, though.

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I got through it!

Now it's smooth sailing with just plain old stockinette.

(Until I have to finish the sleeves.)
(But that's just twisting/turning - all by itself - without colorwork, which will seem like a walk in the park now.)
(Nothing like a little small-circumference colorwork for perspective!)

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Be sure to visit Carole for more Three on Thursday posts today.

 


Mind Games: A Gauge Story

I'm knitting a sweater.
A colorwork extravaganza of a sweater.
That's been taking up a lot of my brain's "bandwidth" for awhile now.

Because gauge.

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(And what do you do with gauge swatches? I use mine as "coasters". . . )

So. I'm knitting this sweater in this yarn. I ordered a kit from Susan B. Anderson because I loved the colors so much. Plus I'd always wanted to knit with some of her worsted weight yarn. (Lovely stuff, by the way -- nice, "sticky" wool perfect for more rustic sweaters; light and lofty and a delight to knit with.) 

I started by knitting some swatches. First, let me say that I always knit gauge swatches when I knit a sweater. Always. I can't think of a time when I haven't. Usually, I find my gauge pretty easily. But sometimes? Not so much. And this was one of those times!

The gauge for this pattern is . . . 19 stitches per 4 inches with a size 7 needle. My gauge (before even trying it with colorwork but after blocking the swatch) was 17 stitches per 4 inches. Hmmmmm. That would indicate going down in needle size. But I already wasn't sold on the tension here -- it all just seemed . . . too dense from the get-go. And knitting a whole colorwork sweater on size 5 needles with this yarn just didn't seem . . . fun or comfortable.

So I went UP a needle to size 8. I know. Counterintuitive. But I wanted to see what the fabric would look like. And . . . guess what? My gauge was still . . . 17 stitches per 4 inches! But I did like the fabric better. I decided to go up another another needle size (9), y'know. Just to see. And. . . my gauge remained at a stubborn 17 stitches per 4 inches! Now, my row gauge was changing, but not drastically. And the fabric was much nicer with the bigger needles.

But . . . mind games.

And this is before even trying a colorwork swatch. (Which you know is a drag, but vital. Because . . . gauge gets even trickier once you start managing floats.) I'll save you the details about my swatching in the round with some colorwork. We'll just make a long story short and say . . . the gauge remained at 17 stitches per 4 inches. But I knew that once I had hundreds of stitches on a crowded needle for the yoke, that was apt to . . . change.

Given that gauge was completely eluding me, I knew I was going to have to turn to Math. So I got out my trusty pencil and paper - and a calculator - to figure out which size to make to get the size I wanted. (Complicated further - of course - because I actually wanted to build in more ease than the pattern calls for.) In the end, I cast on for the size I would normally knit for myself (with a size 8 needle) . . . hoping to get the next size larger in the end (to build in the ease I want).

A crap shoot? YES.
But I plunged in anyway.
Fingers crossed.
Deciding to use the yoke as my "real" gauge swatch.

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Once I got to the point where it was time to divide the stitches for the sleeves, I decided my "real" swatch was ready. I stuck the whole thing onto 2 needles, and blocked it (needles and all). And was completely flummoxed because that yoke swatch? The gauge is All Over The Place! Sometimes what I want. Sometimes what the pattern calls for. All. Over. The. Place.

Fu@&ing. Mind. Games.
(I tell you.)

Decision tree moment: Just let it go? OR . . . Decide to knit a little further and see how it fits after the sleeve separation?
I went with the latter. And got to the try-on point yesterday.

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(Workout hair in it's shining glory!)

I think it's going to work?
There seems to be the ease I want.
And my gauge settled down once I separated for the sleeves -- back to 17 stitches per 4 inches, and is remaining consistent as I plow ahead.

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But, oh my. This is just way more thinking and angsting about a sweater than I've gone through in a long time!

(Does this happen to anyone else????)
(Please tell me it does.)

As of this morning, I'm nearing the end of the colorwork on the body. 

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My next decision: Should I go ahead and do the colorwork on the sleeves before finishing the body? 
Thoughts?

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So. What are YOU making?
(And I hope there are no mind games involved.)

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Be sure to check out other Unraveled posts today over at Kat's.

 

 


That Was Quick!

Last week, I introduced you all to Ferda (my "grand-pup") and explained that I was knitting her a little sweater.

Well. I finished . . . just in time for a visit last Saturday.

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The weather was perfect for an outside, pandemic-friendly visit from Brian and Lauren -- and "The Ferds," of course. We were able to sit comfortably (with blankets) out on our patio while we watched the snow melt. Ferda loves to romp in our fenced back yard. She is agile and fast and full of energy!

I'm sorry to report that after 2 hours of romping in the wet snow, that sweater had stretched out to Flashdance proportions! (I think - hope - it'll spring back into shape in the washer and dryer.) Kind of disappointing to me, but Ferda didn't seem to mind a bit!

For a minute, though . . . it fit like a dream!

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I'll make her another for next winter. But I'll make the collar longer and snugger!

(Ravelry details here.)

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How about you? What are you making these days?

 


Fer da Pup

So . . . I have a little "grand-pup" . . . and she is about the cutest thing ever.

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Her name is Ferda (after an oft-used phrase in the TV series "Letterkenny" . . . "fer da boys" . . . hockey humor). (Also, I am not recommending this show to y'all. Unless you like your humor rather obscure and of the hockey locker room variety. Then go for it.) Brian and Lauren adopted her as a little pup a couple of months before the pandemic arrived. I've not seen Ferda nearly enough . . . sigh. Anyway. Ferda has . . . a personality to match her cuteness! She is full of energy and curiosity and eagerness. She is a bounding, joy-filled pup.

She also . . . likes clothes! (And comfort.)

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When Brian and Lauren first brought her home, it was winter and very cold. And she was a skinny, sick little pup. They put her in little dog sweatshirts to keep her warm in their drafty old house. She likes wearing clothes now -- and has a growing wardrobe.

But she doesn't have a handknit sweater from her "grandma."

Yet!

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She will by the weekend, though! 

I'm knitting Ferda the Lucky Dog sweater (Ravelry link here). I did a lot of researching dog sweaters before I landed on this one, because dogs? They're kinda hard to fit, y'know? What I like about the Lucky Dog design is . . . ribbing in the "undercarriage" area, where dog sweaters tend to pull. And short rows through the chest to accomodate that chesty "dog shape." I'm knitting Ferda's sweater in Teflon-coated (not really) Encore Tweed (mostly acrylic, but also some nylon and a touch of actual wool) because you need something sturdy and washable for an active pup.

I'm nearing the end (quite a bit farther along than the photo I took yesterday), and I may even get a chance to try it on her this weekend.

That Ferda. She's one lucky dog!

(And if you want to see more Ferda, you can check out her Instagram account @the.ferds here.) (Because of course she has her own IG account.)

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How about you? What'cha making?

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If you want to read more Unraveled blog posts today, hop on over to Kat's for a link-up.