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Updated: 6 hours 54 min ago

Possibilities

Sun, 12/09/2018 - 22:20
Earlier this year, I was rummaging through the stash searching for inspiration when a few variegated skeins caught my eye. I quickly put together some working combinations, including this version that emphasized the red, rose and plum shades in the variegated yarn.

That's as far as things progressed. Then a couple weeks ago, I realized there were several skeins of a lovely soft platinum grey (Sugar Bush Bliss) lurking in the stash. The limited yardage restricted project options, but it occurred to me if the colors worked, it might serve as a nice foil for the variegated yarn (KFI Indulgence).
Once I opened up to the possibilities, one thing quickly led to another, as is so often true where knitting is concerned.

The initial swatch using my new-favorite slip stitch turned into the first of a pair of fingerless mitts. The cool platinum created solid vertical stripes that to my eye play nicely with the lateral bands of color produced by the long-print variegated yarn.

As soon as the mitts were bound off, I cast on for a matching scarf. My original plan was to go long and skinny, a shape I find especially versatile, but then I realized something intriguing. If I turned the long scarf into something more compact such as a cowl or neckwarmer, I'd have enough yardage to make a shawl, something I desperately need now that cold weather has settled into our little valley.

The holidays are just around the corner and there are a bazillion things I should be doing. Instead, I suspect I'll spend the evening snuggled under a warm, wool afghan, knitting a soon-to-be shawl.  


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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Leftovers

Sun, 11/25/2018 - 11:30
In America, Thanksgiving is the ultimate weekend for leftovers. If your extended family is like mine, it's difficult to have too much turkey and too many delectable side dishes and desserts, because any remainders will be systematically gobbled up over the course of the long weekend.

In the spirit of this holiday, I've spent this weekend counting my blessings and wallowing in the basics: family, turkey, friends, turkey, dishes, turkey, errands ... and more turkey. I also seized the opportunity to indulge in some quality knitting time and to deal with leftovers of another sort.



The three pairs of warm, woolly mitts-in-progress, which have been patiently waiting for me to summon the time and attention to seam them, have finally become wearable FOs. I'll do my best to capture some modeled shots, but for now, these simple pics will have to suffice.


Meanwhile, I'm going to (try to) stay focused on the two outstanding afghans that require some finishing before they can be declared complete, along with the new projects (yes, plural) I accidentally cast on in a turkey-induced haze. If those things happen, I'll soon be able to share more FO details with you.


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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Battle of Wills

Sun, 11/11/2018 - 21:06
I've spent much of the past week playing with yarn, stitch patterns and color combos for a new shawl, but as entertaining as these diversions have been, it's time to face facts.

Two out of three pairs of woolly mitts still need to be seamed. Since I'm eager to get this fresh crop into the wearing rotation before winter hits, this is a top priority.



Unfortunately, there are also two afghans languishing in the background. Herlacyn Breeze still needs a proper blocking ...



and the red, white and blue afghan needs a border.



To complicate matters, I have a handful of patterns in near-final form. All they require is a bit of time, concentration and polish, so they can be sent off to the tech editor for review.

This list may not seem long, but we all know I get twitchy if there are too many projects in progress or hovering on the horizon. My inner adult understands this quite well, which is why she keeps reminding me to buckle down, clear the decks and focus on finishing. 

Sadly, in this particular battle of wills, my inner toddler just hums louder in an effort to drown out the nagging voices, while she drags more yarn out of the cupboard. She's having waaay too much fun swatching.


It's Veterans Day in the US, so I wanted to take a moment to thank all veterans for their service. To read more about red, white and blue holidays, click here.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

TV Land: Does Amy Knit Her Sweaters?

Sun, 11/04/2018 - 21:17
As The Big Bang Theory enters its final season, one burning question remains unanswered: Does Amy knit her sweaters, cardigans and vests?

According to Sheldon, the answer is yes. In the Opening Night Excitation (season 9, episode 11), Sheldon tells Penny and Bernadette that "Amy enjoys knitting her own sweaters, so I was thinking of getting her an all expenses-paid trip to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival" as a birthday gift.

Any true knitter would be thrilled with such a treat, but in the end, Sheldon foregoes the wool festival and opts to celebrate her birthday by consummating their relationship, a choice Amy embraces with enthusiasm. That's all well and good, but let's get back to the issue at hand. 

As an avid knitter who often has BBT reruns playing in the background while I work on projects, I've seen no evidence Amy knits sweaters. With the exception of one cardigan that might have been handcrafted, all of her knitwear appears to be commercially produced. The one exception that comes to mind is the caramel cabled cardigan she wears at the end of The Celebration Reverberation (season 11, episode 11).

Plus, we've never seen her wield knitting needles onscreen, there are no baskets of yarn or WIPs anywhere in her apartment, and the afghan displayed on the couch in her old apartment was crocheted.



With two pairs of wonderfully woolly mitts off the needles and in the seaming stage and a third freshly cast on, these are the deep, universal questions that occupy my mind. 

So what say you: Does Amy knit her sweaters?


Click here to see all TV Land knitting posts

Planning ahead? You can learn more about the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival here.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Crystal Ball

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:23
The mission to make more mitts has become so firmly fixed in my mind, it's possible I'm getting a teensy bit carried away. 

One pair of mitts is ready for seaming and another is already on the needles.

Knit straight from stash in Valley Yarns Amherst worsted weight wool leftover from my Tikkyn Flagstone afghan, the first pair is worked in charcoal and ash, and the second in ash and light grey. This soft yarn has a slight halo, which tends to make the photos look somewhat blurred or out of focus. The image below shows the stitch more clearly. 
Both pairs are worked in the same slipped stitch, which produces a stretchy, syncopated rib. This stitch is not only easy, it's particularly fun to work, because it creates horizontal stripes (first photo) or vertical ones (second photo) depending on whether the contrast color is introduced on a right- or wrong-side row.
When these mitts are completed, I'll do a proper FO post. Meanwhile, you don't need a crystal ball to see the future. This stitch is so versatile and the results are so varied, I'll definitely be casting on another pair.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Ongoing Obsessions

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 19:25
It was bound to happen. Between cool weather and my ongoing obsessions with neutral colors, gradients and ombres, my current need for more mitts had only one logical outcome.



Friday, I cast on a fresh pair in soft, warm worsted weight wool, even though there are several WIPs lingering in the background. I've made progress and would have made more, but three-quarters of the way through the first mitt, I decided I wanted it longer. So, I ripped back and added some additional length to each section.

To justify ignoring the WIPs, I opted to turn this into a stashbuster project. I limited the color palette and decided to work a simple, three-stage ombre with medium and charcoal grey leftovers from my Tikkyn Flagstone afghan




Meanwhile, I'm loving this particular slip stitch rib, which is stretchy, easy to work and somewhat magical (with a few minor changes, you can create very different effects). I'll share some examples of this one day soon, but for now, I'm eager to finish these, so I can pop them on, and cast on another pair.

What knitting obsessions are you indulging this week?


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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Mitt Weather

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 19:51
It's official. Mitt weather has arrived! Nighttime temps are in the 30s and 40s, and daytime temps are hovering in the mid-50s. For our region, this isn't cold, but it's cool enough to grab my attention.

With several pairs soaking in the sink, it seemed like a good time to inventory my fingerless mitt collection, so I could take steps to rectify any gaps. A couple years ago, I ruthlessly pitched quite a few pairs that had seen so much wear, they simply had to go. The current count stands at 23 pairs, but only a handful of them are shown below. 



Twenty-three pairs sounds like a lot, doesn't it? In reality, not so much.

As you well know, I don't just make mitts for show, I wear them basically year-round. In fall and winter, they're a cozy, knitterly antidote to my perpetually chilly home and office. In spring and summer, they keep my wrists and hands warm, helping to stave off the stiffness, aches and pains caused by computer work by day and knitting by night. 



So, if we deduct those made with premium yarns unsuitable for daily wear, plus the lightweight pairs made with cotton-wool blends, the fall-winter lineup of workhorse mitts is simply inadequate.



Long ago we agreed there's no such thing as too many mitts, so it's obvious I need to cast on some sturdy, practical pairs made with warm worsted and bulky weight wool. I'm off to scour the stash for possibilities and make more mitts.


Looking for the patterns? The examples shown include:
Kintra Mitts
Wyndfael Mitts
Colsie Mitts (pattern coming soon)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Do Over

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 10:30
With two afghans in the finishing stages, several patterns in development, and even more designs in the want-it-now lineup, I have lots of knitting either in process or the planning pipeline. This makes it especially difficult to explain why out of the blue, I decided I simply had to redo my Colsie mirror gradient cowl, which has officially been finished since last December.


This long and skinny neck piece can be wrapped twice and buttoned for a cowl-like effect or left open and worn as a scarf. The goal was to create a versatile accessory to coordinate with my Colsie mirror gradient mitts. The yarn (Grignasco Champagne) is so soft and delectable, it's a true pleasure to knit and wear. 

The differences are subtle. The mitts featured two colors (teal and cloud), while the cowl incorporated three (teal, cloud and lake). The unblocked shot below does the best job of showing the difference between the teal blue (lower left) and lake green (upper right).
Generally, I avoid matchy-matchy accessories, but as time passed, I realized this was one instance where a matching set might actually be the best option. Two weeks ago, I stiffened my spine, carefully unpicked the bindoff and woven ends, frogged back to the solid center section (cloud), then began the task of reworking the final two sections to match the first two.
If you've ever been in this situation, you know how frustrating it can be to decide after the fact a project needs additional work, but I found myself enjoying the process. 


 

It's still unblocked, but the knitting is finished and the ends are woven. I'll try to get some better pictures soon. Meanwhile, I'm much happier with this cowl in its new configuration, which means every now and then, a do-over is the right choice.

RELATED




Colsie Mirror Gradient Mitts


Categories: Knitting Feeds

Nifty Neutrals in Action

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 10:30
Last week to ease our way into the fall season, we took a look at nine nifty neutral color combos. As a result of that post, I began browsing through completed projects to see where and how neutrals have surfaced in the past, so this week, I thought it might be helpful to share some neutral combinations in action.

Drumlin Almost Neutral: Black, slate and cream with a pop of red



Tikkyn Flagstone: Light, medium and dark greys with burgundy



Kintra Nearly Neutral Cowl: Black, grey and cream gradient with red


Kintra Nearly Neutral Mitts: Black, grey and cream gradient with red

Kintra Greyridge: Dark, medium and light grey ombre


Grey Daze Mitts & Shawl: Cool grey and cream with burgundy


Wyndfael Mitts: Charcoal and cream with red

Pewter and charcoal with red

Twegen Coffee: Black, grey, brown, toffee and cream


Owl Family: Chocolate, toffee and brown speckled yarn accented with gold


    Hopefully, if you're one of the many knitters who have difficulty visualizing how colors will interact in a finished project, these examples will serve as a starting point for one of your own projects. Looking through them has certainly prompted some insights for me.

    It's clear, for instance, that when a neutral project needs a spark of bright color, reds and burgundies are my go-to choice. At one time, browns and earth tones would have featured more prominently in any neutral roundup, but most of those projects were completed not just pre-blog but also pre-Ravelry, so no pictures exist. Many were sweaters, including a taupe tunic, a tweedy pullover accented with warm peach, and a lovely cardigan for my sister in shades of dark chocolate, mocha and caramel.

    I have a small project on the needles right now, but as soon as it's finished, I plan to rummage through the stash, choose a few select skeins, and start swatching something subtle and understated in an interesting mix of neutrals.


    The project links above take you to the FO post. If you're interested, you can find the patterns here.

    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    9 Nifty Neutral Combos

    Sun, 09/23/2018 - 10:30
    Fall has officially arrived and with it we've experienced a tiny hint of cool-ish weather. I suppose it's natural, therefore, my thoughts have turned from the saturated colors of summer to the terrific tones of fall and soft, subtle shades of winter.



    In other words, I've been obsessed with neutrals and the potential they offer from color-blocking and textures to ombres, gradients and fades. It's also interesting to see how, after a decade of grey hues dominating the neutral landscape, earthy tints are enjoying a resurgence in design, decor and fashion.


    So, whether you're seeking colors for a specific project or just in the mood for some yarn play, here are nine nifty neutral color combos to consider.


    Cool DeepObsidian, basalt, slate


    Cool MediumSoapstone, bluestone, gravel


    Cool Light
    Shale, marble, quartzite




    Cool WhisperConcrete, mortar, quartz


    TransitionGranite, travertine, cobblestone


    Warm DeepGranito, porphyry, twig


    Warm MediumMascavo, dorado, fieldstone


    Warm LightPetra, dolomite, sand



    Warm WhisperSandstone, limestone, cream onyx 



    At one time, my entire wardrobe was built on shades of wheat, taupe, cream, grey and black, with only an occasional spark of color for interest. Today, black and deep coal are my neutrals of choice, coupled with bold flashes of color or softer neutrals in layered shades. Meanwhile, neutrals are especially useful if you knit for the men in your life, since based on my experience, they're a perennial favorite with guys of all ages. 

    All this talk of neutrals and their classic versatility has struck a chord. With two afghans in the near-FO stage and several potential projects competing for time and attention, I should follow my own advice and stay focused. Instead, I think I may break out a skein or three and work up some swatches in oatmeal, platinum or silver.




    RELATED



    9 Color Combos for Guys
    11 Rich Color Combos
    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Backstory

    Sun, 09/16/2018 - 15:51
    Two afghans are in the finishing stages. While I continue working on these tasks, it seemed like a good time to spend a moment talking about the backstory, or what things look like on the wrong side of my projects.

    Lately, most projects have featured multiple colors, and numerous leftovers and partial skeins. This of course means there are always plenty of ends to weave. Now, it's a well-known fact finishing and end-weaving are not my greatest skill, and I've regularly confessed that with each project, I need to marshal all my patience and care to properly tackle this phase.

    Flashpoint
    Most of the time, I choose to weave ends using a needle, because for me this gives the most polished and invisible results. Sometimes, I weave them as I go, but often, I simply wait until the end and handle them last, right before blocking.
    Careful finishing is especially important, since I want scarves, shawls, afghans and home dec items to be tidy and attractive on both sides.

    Alaris
    Because I'm slow, weaving ends takes a great deal of time and concentration. I've been experimenting, therefore, with other methods in an effort to reduce the number of ends and speed up the finishing process.

    Herlacyn Heatwave is a good example. Each strip in this design produces 18 ends, for a total of 54 in the body, not counting seams and borders. Granted, there are many designs out there that produce far more, but facing that many ends in order to properly finish a project can be daunting.


    To offset this, I've been trying to weave ends as I work. Above, you can see I'm picking up stitches for a seam, and at the same time, I'm weaving one of the yellow ends into the pickup (on the wrong side). 

    I picked up the working yarn from behind the loose end, which traps the loose end between the working yarn and active stitch. The technique is quite simple, it just requires a bit of time and attention, and if you do it correctly, it's tidy on the back and invisible on the front.



    Many knitters do this for just a few stitches which is easier, but I took a different approach. I left long tails, so the woven stitches would form a continuous (rather than interrupted) line along the edge of its matching triangle. This turns the necessity of weaving ends into a bit of a design feature, and on the wrong side, each triangle is bordered by wrapped stitches which imparts a look similar to applique.

    Old habits die hard, so I'm still a bit sporadic and sometimes forget to integrate this basic step into my knitting. Other times, I simply choose to skip it, because in that instance, I prefer a more invisible approach. If your goal is to minimize the effort involved in finishing, however, weaving ends as you work is clearly the way to go.


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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Celebrate the Fruits of Our Labor

    Sun, 09/02/2018 - 10:30
    In the US, this is Labor Day weekend, a three-day national holiday recognizing the millions of hardworking Americans whose labor keeps the economy humming. 
    It seems fitting, therefore, that the afghan that's been consuming my knitting attention is red, white and blue. Last weekend, I was working to fix a frustrating fubar. Because I'd skipped several stitches in the seaming process, the two strips didn't line up as intended. You can clearly see these problems below.



    This past week, I slowly, steadily and carefully, tackled the seam one section at a time. True confessions, it took me all week to accomplish this feat. (Did I mention slowly?)



    The reworked seam is much, much better. It's not perfect, but there are no missed stitches and the color blocks line up properly. (The angled shot below may make that difficult to see, so you'll have to trust me on this.)



    Right now, this WIP is spread out on the work table, partly so I can admire the fruit of my labor and partly so I can figure out how to finish the edges. I've always intended to add a border of some sort, but right now, I'm having an intense internal debate. Should I take a minimalist approach and add a one-row edging to stop the curl and stabilize the edges? Or, should I work a deeper border for a more traditional approach?

    If you have thoughts or preferences, I'd love your feedback. While I contemplate these weighty matters, I'll be weaving ends in preparation for finishing. 

    Meanwhile, wherever you are, take time to celebrate the fruits of your labor, and if you're in the US, have a relaxing, enjoyable Labor Day!



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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Small Mistake, Big Consequences

    Sun, 08/26/2018 - 17:00
    The first rule of blogging about knitting is this: Do NOT crow when a project's going well. Because if you do, all too soon you'll be back at the keyboard eating crow and confessing something (or everything) has gone woefully awry. 

    Last week, I was wallowing in the pleasures of working on a project that was moving forward at a fast (for me) pace. In a handful of weeks it progressed from casting on the first strip to finishing all the strips and starting the seaming process. 

    The first seam went together easily, without a hiccup and with each section lining up as intended. 
    The second seam did not, and it's my own fault. It was late after a long, demanding work day, but I decided to push ahead and finish the final seam. It was a bad call, and the orange stitch marker marks the spot.

    Somehow, someway, I'd managed to skip not one but several stitches during the three-needle bindoff, and that small mistake had big consequences. If you look at the picture above, you can see it. The left corner of the upper white triangle is supposed to align with the right corner of the red section, but clearly it doesn't.

    The only way to fix an error of this magnitude is to frog it and redo it. So that's where things stand. I've ripped out the bindoff and the stitches are sitting there ready to be returned to the needles, so I can try again.
    Categories: Knitting Feeds