Knitting

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.

 


Just An Old Fashioned Love Song

Love Week continues!

Love week

Click here for a little soundtrack for today's post (worth a click for the little trip back to 1975).

I kinda got into a little knitting obsession last week . . . 

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I had just finished my Weekender sweater, and I was waiting on some yarn to knit a dog sweater for my grand-pup, so I thought it might be fun to knit up a little heart in the meantime. Y'know . . . a little "palette cleanser."

And, well. It was kinda like when you hear an old (fashioned love) song . . . and it gets stuck in your head . . . and you keep singing it over and over and over.

Because . . . before you know it, I had seven little hearts!

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Some of them have been drafted into Valentine-duty and are now traveling to destinations across the country. The rest of them will just sit around, adding a bit of whimsy here and there in my living spaces this month.

You know how it goes . . . when you start knitting up some LOVE!

You'll swear you've heard it before
As it slowly rambles on and on
No need in bringing 'em back
'Cause they've never really gone
Just an old fashioned love song
Coming down in three part harmony
 
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"Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much a heart can hold."
    --- Zelda Fitzgerald

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(You can find the details for my little hearts on Ravelry here.)


Turn It Around

(For a soundtrack to accompany today's post, click here.)

So one sad day last October . . . probably around Rhinebeck time . . . when I was tired of the pandemic and dragged down by the upcoming election and totally worn out by the news and missing my kids and my friends and just generally feeling bad about All The Things, I was poking around on my computer and stumbled onto this yarn on the Modern Daily Knitting website.

It was like . . . the clouds parted and the sun shone and the birds started singing for a minute.

That yarn!*

I had to have it.

So I ordered enough to make . . . something.
(In true player-to-be-named-later fashion.)
Enough to make . . . a sweater, even.

I've gotta say that . . . I can't remember a time I've bought enough (pricey) yarn to make a sweater . . . with no concept of a sweater in mind first. 

I've also gotta say . . . that yarn? Totally not what I'd usually go for. Because . . . it just looks like a pool(ing) party waiting to happen. And pooling makes my eyes twitch.

But the yarn arrived. And it was as gorgeous as I'd figured it might be. It definitely turned my mood around for a minute or two. But then . . .  I had to figure out what to do with it!

After a lot of thought (a wonderful diversion), I decided that I definitely wanted to make a sweater with it -- but that the shape would be key if I wanted to avoid a total pooling disaster. So . . . I was looking for, basically, a box-with-sleeves. Preferably . . . a box-with-sleeves that also might have a bit of texture in it to bring out the highlights of that yarn.

I ended up deciding on . . . The Weekender (by Andrea Mowry).

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And it turned out to be the most perfect choice for this absolutely lovely - but totally pool-y - yarn! I mean, The Weekender has all the elements I was looking for:

  • Reverse stockinette body.
  • Stockinette sleeves.
  • Faux seams down the front and back.
  • Ribby neckline.

And BONUS . . . it's like a comfy sweatshirt! (A FANCY, comfy sweatshirt.)
WINNER!

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The whole thing (from purchase to finished sweater) is kinda . . . inside out and a little backward! But the yarn brought me joy. The knitting made me happy. And wearing it?

Totally turned the beat around!

Turn the beat around
Love to hear the percussion
Turn it upside down
Love to hear the percussion
Love to hear it

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You can find all my project details here, on Ravelry.

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*The colorway that caught my eye is called Dusk. It is no longer offered on the MDK site. (Which is a pity.) (But totally justifies my purchase back in October, y'know?)

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Hop on over to Kat's today to see other Unraveled posts.

 

 


Mess O' Hats, Part 2: Auld Lang Syne Edition

Remember last week when I told you I went on a hat-knitting binge that continued on . . . even after I completed my Christmas gift knitting? Well, today you get the rest of them! Welcome to . . . 

A Whole Mess O' Hats, Part 2: Auld Lang Syne Edition.

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I made one for Tom. (Ravelry link.)

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And one for me. (Ravelry link.)

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One for my sister. (Ravelry link.)

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And another of these quick-and-easy headbands for myself. (Ravelry link.) (And, yeah. It's made from the leftovers of Erin's hat from last week.)

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And even though I've moved on from hats . . . and I'm currently busy knitting away at a sweater (this one) . . . I'm still dreaming of hats.
(Like . . . this one.) 
(And this one.)
(And another headband.)
(Or two.)

(Oh, help.)