Unraveled

On Progress and Modifications

It's been a while since I've checked in with my knitting progress, so here's a bit of an update for you.

News Flash! I'm still working on squares for my blanket. I actually finished the 10 squares called for in the pattern a couple of weeks ago. I laid them all out, and it looked something like this . . . 

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(That JoJo. Always thinking I need to have a dog-for-scale in every knitting project photo I take.)

It's a nice little blanket. Small. Good for throwing over your lap on a chilly morning. Or displaying on a chair. It would make a perfect baby blanket.

But something about it makes my eye twitch.
Can you guess what?

It's the patterning of the overall blanket. The rows are arranged to show 3 squares - 2 squares - 3 squares - 2 squares. Which is fine. But from a design standpoint, my eyes expect to see the pattern finish with a row of 3 more squares. (Or start with 2 squares.) It's just . . . off. And I knew it would bug me.

So I decided to see if I could add 1 more row (either a 3-square row or a 2-square row) with the yarn I have. I knew I had plenty of yarn to make the colorful centers; it was the neutral border yarn that I was unsure of. So I got out my trusty scale, and started knitting.

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Before starting any extra squares, I "finished" the blanket as designed (as much as possible) first. I added those "half squares" to the 2-square rows, for example. And I seamed the rows together. (That first photo above is after adding the "half squares" and seaming the rows.)  I discovered it takes slightly less of the "border" yarn to knit 3 squares than 2 squares with the "half squares" - which makes sense.

Anyway. After knitting a bit and measuring now and again, I could see that I had enough yarn to add another row of 3 squares. And I wouldn't have to play "yarn chicken" to do it!

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Better, non?

I took that photo above over the weekend, before we headed up north for the week. Since then, all squares are complete, and that last row is seamed. I'm putting it away now . . . until the weather calls for holding a whole blanket in my lap at once.

Which I guess means that . . . The Prodigal Son is going away again.
But only for awhile.

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How about you? What are making these days?

 


Garter Stitch is the Answer

There's a scene in one of my favorite movies, Bull Durham, when the Durham Bulls baseball team gathers together on the mound for a bit of a re-group during a game.

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What's the problem? Well . . . Nuke's "old man" is in the stands, which makes him nervous. Jose's girlfriend put a curse on his glove and he needs a live chicken to take it off. And no one knows what to get Millie and Jimmy for their upcoming wedding. As Crash tells Manager Larry when he joins them on the mound  . . . "We're dealing with a lot of shit."

That's how I feel right now.
Like I'm dealing with a lot of shit.

Oh, it's nothing big or important or scary. It's just . . . a lot of little things that need dealing with or wrapping up or wrangling. My brain is going in a million directions all the time and I just need things to settle a bit. (And they will. Because Life.)

At times like these, I'm happy for a good old, garter stitch knitting project that doesn't take too much brain-space, y'know?

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I'm just cranking out the squares for my Prodigal Son blanket project. (8.3 squares complete; 1.7 squares remaining.) It's nice to have a soothing something-to-work-on with my hands . . . while my brain sorts through the rest of the . . . shit I'm dealing with!

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How about you? What are you making (or dealing with) these days?


Back to the Basics

Okay. So at some point late in the day yesterday, I was able to load the photos I wanted to include in my post . . . that was supposed to appear yesterday. Here it is. A day late! (Thanks, Typepad.)

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Yesterday A couple of days ago, I felt like making something . . . quick.
I wanted that satisfaction of finishing something.
And I didn't want to think much at all.

So last two evenings ago just before dinner, I grabbed my trusty potholder loom (yeah, just like the one you probably used as a kid . . . only bigger) and a bag of loops and headed out to my patio. Back to the basics!

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Before Tom was able to pull a pint of his latest IPA for me, I had things set up and ready to go.

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Sipping and weaving. Not a bad combination.

Over, under, over, under. (Sip.)
Under, over, under, over. (Sip.)
Just back to the basics of creating fabric.
(With the added attraction of enjoying a cold beer.)

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By the time I got to the bottom of my beer glass, I had the weaving finished.

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And right after dinner, I finished it off.
Voilá!
Potholder!

Not a bad little effort . . . especially when seeking the quick, satisfaction of a completed project. Sometimes going back to basics is the best idea.

(But now back to knitting squares . . . )

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Did you make potholders on a loom like this when you were a kid?


Stitching in the Summer

The view from my "knitting" chair looks a little different these days . . . 

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I blame this . . . 

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I follow embroidery designer Nicki Franklin on Instagram. She creates the most charming embroidery designs for herself -- and for her UK business, The Stitchery. After drooling over her stitching kits for a couple of years, I finally succumbed and bought one. (Well. Actually more than one.)

I learned to embroider even before I learned to knit or sew, and I've always loved just sitting and stitching. I did a lot of cross stitch for a while back in the late 80s/early 90s, but I really prefer the texture of embroidery. Other than a few simple embroidery projects lately, though, I haven't done much stitching for a few years. 

So I decided I'd need a little practice with my "fancy" stitches before tackling my new kit.

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Lucky for me, Nicki Franklin has a charming sampler/practice kit, too!

Although I won't be setting my knitting completely aside for the summer, it is going to have to share stitching time - and space on the table next to my "knitting" chair - with my embroidery. Stay tuned!

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How about you? What are you making these days?


Meet . . . The Prodigal Son

A few weeks ago, I explained my strategy for summer knitting (digging through my time-out bin filled with a veritable “dysfunctional family” full of projects) and introduced you to The Problem Child. Then last week, you met The Poor Relations.

This week? The Prodigal Son returns!

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Oh, yes. The Prodigal Son.

You may be familiar with this Christian parable . . . a father is overjoyed when his long lost son returns home and welcomes him with a feast. (Totally pissing off his other son, by the way - the one who stayed home and did all the work. But that's another story - and maybe another knitting project - altogether. . . )

Anyway.

My own Prodigal Son . . . is this blanket, which I started in 2011. Back then, the pattern had just been released as a fundraiser for Mercy Corps following the tsunami in Japan. I loved the design. I wanted that blanket. And I had a bunch of Noro Silk Garden just sitting in my stash with no plans for anything. So . . . what the heck! I cast on.

It was a nice, easy project. I loved the way the squares looked. 

After completing four of the ten squares called for in the pattern, apparently I lost interest or was (more likely) distracted by something shinier. I shoved the whole shebang in a bin and just . . . moved on, forgetting about the project completely.

For. Eleven. Years. 

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When I opened the bin last month, I was pleased to discover the project neatly put away and ready to finally return . . . home. (The most disappointing thing was that, in my mind, I remembered having knit more squares before sending the project packing. But, nope. Just four.)

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So. The Prodigal Son has returned.
And just in time, too.

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Because The Problem Child has settled down and is nearly all grown up now -- able to watch TV and even sip some wine from time to time. And I decided to just put The Poor Relations out of their misery by casting off and calling it done. (Details another day.)

So, it looks like my summer knitting . . . is all sorted.
For now!

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How about you? What are you making this week?


Meet . . . The Poor Relations

Two weeks ago, I explained my strategy for summer knitting (digging through my time-out bin filled with a veritable “dysfunctional family” full of projects) and introduced you to The Problem Child.

This week, allow me to introduce The Poor Relations.

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But first – some backstory.

When I was in high school, there was a boy in our crowd . . . let’s call him Rick (because, well, his name was Rick).  Anyway. Rick had a really irritating way of engaging you in conversation . . . while keeping an eye out for someone “better” to talk to. I’m sure you’ve encountered the type. Rick, who was funny and generally friendly, was always looking to “up” his own “social capital” by seeking out those who might be "cooler" than he was (or we were!). We were well aware of his tendency, and we teased him about it all the time. When he would spot someone he thought might be “better” (in that high school pecking order sort of way) to talk to at a party or gathering or even just at lunch, we’d just roll our eyes and say . . . “Who are we? Your poor relations?”

Yep. “Poor relations.” Good enough to hang around with when you need ‘em, but when someone “better” comes along? Bye bye!

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When the pandemic first hit back in March 2020, my focus and brain capacity were at a real low. I didn’t have the focus for reading. I couldn’t concentrate on my knitting, either. And, suddenly, much of my social life and all of my meetings and classes were Zoom-based. I was desperate for something simple and easy to do with my hands while Zooming.

Enter . . . The Poor Relations.

Just a few weeks before everything shut down for the pandemic, I had gone to a small fiber “event” with a local knitting friend. While there, I picked up a lovely-in-the-skein 750-yard cake of hand-spun and hand-dyed suri alpaca. I had no plan for the yarn. I surely didn’t need it. But it caught my eye, and I bought it. (You know how it is when you’re at one of these fiber things. The fumes. The vibe. The enabling friend.)

Anyway, when I realized I needed something super easy and rather mindless to knit before yet another Zoom meeting, I grabbed that new cake of yarn and this pattern . . . and cast on. (Although I’ve never knit a Hitchhhiker, I think it’s basically a Hitchhiker with “pleats?”

The project lived under my desk, permanently. For years. When I needed it, I picked it up and worked on it. When something “better” came along, I kicked it back under the desk. (Thus . . . The Poor Relations.)

Sometimes, I didn’t work on it for months and months at a time. Some of my (ahem) “better” projects were also well-suited to Zoom calls, so I always chose to work on them ahead of The Poor Relations. But, when I needed them (when there was nobody "better" around), The Poor Relations were always eager to be back in play! Often our re-introductions were a little awkward as I had to recall the basic rhythm of the pattern or fix all the stitches that had dropped off the needle in my neglect. But there they were. The Poor Relations. Always ready for another conversation.

Needless to say, The Poor Relations are still around. (750 yards of yarn can make a really long shawl, y’know?) The project will never be my favorite. I liked the yarn a lot better when it was all caked up. It was . . . prettier. It's a little jarring and abrupt in the knitting.  But it’s . . . okay. It’s super soft and drape-y, and I’m sure the resulting wrap will keep me warm. 

If I ever finish it, that is!

My Zoom meetings are fewer these days. I’m meeting up with local friends in real time, face-to-face, more often now. But The Poor Relations have been back in my life again (always eager for any morsel of my attention) in the evenings while I watch TV. While I'd prefer to work on my “better” and "cooler" project (The Problem Child) I'm afraid it must go to bed early – before the TV comes on in the evening, y’know?

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But, as you can (maybe) see in that photo, I’m past the complicated cable motif section of The Problem Child now. So The Poor Relations? They may find themselves back under the desk again . . . real soon!

How about you? What are you making this week?

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(Stop by next week and I'll introduce you to the final project in my "dysfunctional family collection of knits" . . .  The Prodigal Son.)

 


Meet . . . The Problem Child

After finishing Tom's sweater and then my colorful follow-up shawl, I've been unable to settle on my next knitting project. I mean . . . I did whip up a set of dishcloths, but that was just a palette cleanser; a little placeholder while I decided on my next project. I am being very intentional about NOT getting sucked into knitting one of those charming "nice little summer sweaters" this year . . . as I too often do. (I never wear them. And I don't like working with cotton or linen.) But I also don't want to "get a headstart on fall" by lugging a heavy wool sweater around during the hot months.

What's a knitter to do?

I thought about socks. (And that's a great idea.)
I thought about cute little teddy bears. (Another great idea.)
Maybe even some Halloween witches? (I have the yarn ready to go.)

But then I decided to open up my project Time Out Bin instead!

I usually only work on one (sometimes two, but not very often) project at a time. If a project isn't going well, I usually just rip it out and let it go. But every once in a while, and especially if the project has some potential, I stick it away in a bin. (My version of out-of-sight-out-of-mind.) Anyway, I decided to take a peek and remind myself of what's in there. Maybe . . . I could try to work with some of those projects over the summer; y'know . . . see if any of 'em are ready to "behave" yet.

There are currently three projects in my bin: The Problem Child, The Poor Relations, and The Prodigal Son. (Sounds kind of like a dysfunctional family, non?) I'll introduce you to each of them over the next few weeks. And we'll see if they shape up by the end of the summer, shall we?

First, let's meet The Problem Child.

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This is the start of a lovely little shawl by Ysolda Teague called Llawenydd. I don't do a lot of cable projects anymore, although I have in the past. I've been considering knitting a cabled Aran sweater, but I haven't settled on a pattern/design I'd like to actually wear. (While I do like the look of some cabled sweaters, I don't seem to like wearing them all that much.) Anyway. When I saw this little shawl (and it is just a small shawl), I thought it might satisfy my "craving" for cables, but not require too big a cabling-commitment. I cast on back in December, right before I made my visit to the Mayo Clinic. I thought it would be a good "traveling project."

HA!

Newp. 

I got to the cables and realized . . . NOT a good "traveling project." 

In fact, this Problem Child - so called because I have to keep a close and mindful eye on it all the time - requires silence and total concentration. I mean, the chart is clear. The directions are clear. It's all very straightforward for a cable project. But it is . . . double cables filled with moss stitch and a decrease at one edge. (Or, as Ysolda describes it herself, "two by two ribbing flows into a bold, double cable pattern surrounding diamonds of richly textured moss stitch.") Bold, indeed! A knitter must keep her wits about her at all times! No conversation. No TV. No audiobook. No wine. And lots of talking-out-loud-to-one's-self.

I stuck that Problem Child into my Time Out bin as soon as I returned from Mayo, and that's where it has stayed. Until last week when I got it out again.

We've got progress.

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I've reached the half-way point of the main cable motif. The knitting has gotten slightly more intuitive, and I'm making better progress. But, being at the half-way point also means that all the cable-backs and cable-forwards will be reversed now. And, trust me, I know myself well enough to know . . .  I've got to watch this Problem Child like a hawk.

I've also reached this symbol in the chart . . . 

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I've lived in fear of this symbol since the beginning. Why? Oh, here's why . . . 

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(I've tried it. It's not bad. It sounds worse than it is.)

Anyway.
That's what I'm dealing with right now: The Problem Child.
(At least it's wool!)

How about you? What are you making this week?

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(Stop by next week and I'll introduce you to The Poor Relations.)

 

 


Replenishing

My mom used to knit dishcloths . . . for herself, for my sister, for my kids, for her friends, and for me. She got me hooked on using hand knit dishcloths decades ago, and I have purchased very few "store-bought" dishcloths ever since. Having a ready supply of dishcloths from my mom also meant . . . I never had to make them for myself.

All that has changed, of course.

My mom might not be around to make them for me anymore, but I still prefer them to any other dishcloth. So I've had to resort to knitting my own. . .

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Every 18 months or so, I go on a little dishcloth knitting tear . . . and whip up a new supply for myself. (I find they last for a good two years before they really wear out and unravel, so this keeps my inventory steady, with "planned turnover.")

They aren't my favorite things to knit (it's the cotton), but they're quick and easy -- and if I'm focused, I can knit a new supply fairly quickly. (Especially if I'm working a slow election.) (Did you know you can knit two Ball Band Dishcloths over the course of a slow 15-hour shift?)

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My favorite pattern is the Waffle Knit Dishcloth (link is NOT a Ravelry link). It's quick and effective, and it's fun to add the little blocks of color (although you certainly don't need to). Sadly, these will also be the first to fall apart, so I usually throw in some Ball Band Dishcloths, too (link is also NOT a Ravelry link). My Ball Band Dishcloths outlast all others, every time. This go-round, I also added a new pattern - Sarah's dishcloth "recipe" she recently shared on her blog (again, NOT a Ravelry link). I think Sarah's riff on the dishcloth will become another go-to favorite for me.

There you have it: What I've been knitting lately. I'm happy to have refreshed my dishcloth inventory, and I'm also happy to be finished with dishcloth-cotton . . . for now.

I've moved on to something a bit more . . . complicated. Certainly bigger. And from wool. 
Stay tuned!

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How about you? What are you making these days?


Perfection in Sweatshirt Form

Not much knitting going on (and what I am knitting is very slow these days), but I've been doing some sewing.

A couple of weeks ago I made a super simple something that I've been wanting to sew for a couple of years now.

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It's this pattern - The Sidney - from Merchant and Mills . . . a super oversized sweatshirt that is perfect for cozy layering (which is my preferred "style" of dressing, don'tchaknow). 

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I used Merchant and Mills' Makers Jacquard Cotton for my sweatshirt. It's divine stuff . . . a layer of cotton backed by a layer of gauze with yarn-threads in the middle - and then quilted. I love it (although sewing with it was kind of messy - lots of lint; just sayin).

As spring (slowly) arrives, and I pack my wool sweaters away for the season, this sweatshirt will be a constant, comfortable companion out in the garden and around the campfire up north.

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It's truly perfection . . . in sweatshirt form!

(And for all of you showing off your daffodils? You can see mine . . . just poking up in my garden now. Those little green bits.) (Yep. It'll be awhile still. . . )

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I got a comment yesterday from Linda . . . about Young Mungo . . . pointing out that it's currently available for Kindle for $9.45. I just wanted to pass that along in case you're interested. (And thanks, Linda!)


Not Many Words; Mostly Pictures

Today I've got a quick and dirty post covering  a LOT of ground. 
Let's begin.

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First up, the modeled shot of Tom wearing the (no longer) big brown blob. Which was finished in plenty of time for him to wear on his fishing trip with Brian last week. By the time he caught this steelhead (SO shiny!) . . . 

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it was too hot for a sweater. But he assures me it was good luck anyway . . . as he and Brian caught several of these babies. And Brian caught the brown-trout-of-a-lifetime (until he catches one bigger, that is).

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So. It was a good sweater . . . AND a good day fishing.

(And if you're looking for sweater details, you can see them here on Ravelry.)

What NEXT? you ask.

Well. Color. Lots of color.
You could say . . . I'm rolling around in color!

I'm painting. . . 

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(This is based on this famous painting, The New Novel, by Winslow Homer.)

I'm sewing . . . 

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(Yet another Remy Raglan. . . )

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(And a soon-to-be Merchant and Mills 'Sidney'. . . )

And even doing a little knitting . . . 

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(Just getting started on one of these. It doesn't look colorful at this point, but it will be.)

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(And thinking about this combo for a Humulus; the raspberry for the main color, the neon green for the contrast.)

In other words, I'm saying . . . Goodbye, Big Brown Blob!

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How about you? What are you making this week?