A spring to savor

pink dogwood tree blossomOh, spring weather has been lovely where I live lately!  We got a bike trailer and have been taking Z for rides around town on our awesome bike trails.  It’s been fantastic because I haven’t been on my bike so much since having Z, aside from the odd solo trip to get places.  It’s great that we can all go places together by bike. That means we get to smell the lilac bushes as we pass them.  lilac flowerThis extra outdoor time has enhanced my oogling all of the gorgeous dogwood and redbud trees in my neighborhood.

white dogwood treeApril is the best month for flowering trees.  They flower quickly and disappear quickly too.  I’ve got to absorb as much of them as I can right now. I’m obsessed with the slightly darker pink redbuds, like the one below.  They come in a little bit lighter variety, but these darker ones are the ones I covet.  redbud tree

I’ve also been working on another website.  It’s for my counseling work, and has a little blog element for interesting wellness-related articles I read.  I want to incorporate therapeutic knitting into more professional practice and I’ve just rented some office space that would be perfect for it!

In other words, I’ve been busy working and having lots of fun, but as always, I keep knitting.  Here is the latest shot of my Cocktail(Dress).  dressI have joined the front and back, so it should be lots of smooth stockinette sailing from here until the bottom.  Maybe, just maybe, I will finish it in time to wear for an upcoming wedding on May 3rd.  There are still 11 days left before the wedding, so it’s a possibility, but I’ll have a backup plan just in case.  I don’t want to destroy my wrists or stress myself out too much, but since the dissertation is finished, hardly anything seems quite as stressful in perspective. I’ve also updated my Ravelry queue to move some potential summer knits to the top.  I’m thinking seriously about the Saco Stripes top with some Shibui linen from my LYS, and I already have some silk yarn I can use for a Cowl Shell.

I also recently learned about a site dedicated to getting info out when indie dyers post new yarns.  It’s called Indie Untangled and it’s full of deliciousness.  It seems like a good way to learn about more independent dyers and totally enable yarn addictions.  Just FYI.

Happy Earth Day! Get out and savor your natural environment if you get a chance.

Spring peachick

I fell in love with a little cardigan after seeing a beautiful example on my Instagram feed.  It’s called the Peachick Eyes Cardigan.  I decided I must embrace some startitis and cast it on for Z immediately.  Luckily, I have plenty of sock yarn on hand, and this was done with only a moment’s consideration.  peachick-2I’m using leftover Colinette Jitterbug in Elephant’s Daydream.  I have two partial balls, totally about 126 grams.  I think that should be plenty for the 2 yr old size, and if it isn’t, I can always add an accent color for the bottom or button band and armbands.  It makes me a little sentimental to use this yarn, because I made Z’s first cardigan out of it.  peachickSo far this is a fun and fast knit.  I think she will be able to wear it some this spring, and layered with a long-sleeved t-shirt next fall and winter.  I didn’t swatch (shhhhh…), but just grabbed the size 3 needles and got to work.  If it ends up slightly too big because I’m a loose knitter, all the better!  That just makes for a longer wear time.  There’s also a matching adult version.  That might have to happen at some point to satisfy my unquenchable desire for matching mother/daughter knits.

Girly cocktail, anyone?

Hello, pink!  I’m starting the Cocktail(Dress).

cocktail

I think I will end up making some kind of S/M hybrid, putting the ease of the garment somewhat between the measurements for these two sizes.  I’m ok with some negative ease in the bust, but I don’t want this hugging my tummy and hips in an unflattering fashion, so I’ll just modify as necessary.  Hooray for top-down garments you can try on as you go!

So far this pattern looks like it is as carefully planned and written as the BlueSand Cardigan, so I expect an easy journey.

I need a serious case of startitis

I passed my dissertation defense, and am now officially Dr. Dominick!  Good alliteration, eh?  My dissertation research included two knitting groups with 4th grade girls to see if participating in the knitting group enhanced their social skills and academic achievement, while reducing problem behaviors.  The group seemed to have a medium effect on lowering bullying scores and raising communication scores.  The girls loved participating in the group and I loved working with them, so while I would have expected a greater number of positive results, it was a lot of fun conducting the group.

In knitting news, I’ve been totally lazy about getting a good picture of my New Girl skirt.  I will get to it soon.  In the meantime, I’m feeling a little out of inspiration for new projects.  I just finished a secret project that I will get to blog about later in the week, after a baby shower.  I have those socks on the needles still.  I’m almost lamenting the end of the cold weather here, because colder weather inspires so much fabulous wool knitting!  I’m ready to focus on warm weather items with linen, but I’m not sure what to make.  I’d love suggestions in the comments.  I have been eyeing Cocktail(Dress) for awhile and I have a TON of Laines du Nord Baby Milk (merino/milk fiber/cashmere) to use, but it’s in super pale pinks and gray. milk-2I don’t usually swath my person in that much pink, but the yarn was a STEAL from WEBS, so this dress will only cost me around $40 to make.  milkI think the peachy color on top would work for the sleeve caps, then gray for the chest stripes.  I have the most of the pink on the bottom, so that will have to be the main color.  I’m going to swatch a bit and see what I think.  It might be some super girly insanity.  But I want more ideas! I’m ready to fill up my dance card with summer knits.  What are you planning for the warm weather this year?

Socks I have not forgotten

Today is my dissertation defense at 2:00pm!  I’m nervous, excited, and so ready to be done! Think good thoughts for me, y’all.  There is power in the collective unconsciousness…

As for knitting content, while I’m working on larger projects, socks that I’m working on often get set aside.  I always have at least one pair of stockinette socks going, and sometimes many pairs of socks of varying styles.  They’re excellent knitting projects for traveling, commuting, knitting in the movie theater, and reading.  Right now, I just have a pair for me and a pair for Matt on the needles, but there is always more beautiful yarn in my sock yarn stash calling to me.  It’s hard not to cast on 10 pairs right now.

My pair is made with Juliana’s Lucky Star Sock Yarn in Truly Outrageous.  This yarn makes me happy every time I work on the socks.  It’s so ridiculously bright, and has just a hint of sparkle.  To keep from interrupting the stripe sequence, an afterthought heel would be best, but I really like the feel and security of the slipped stitch heel flap that I used.  I got lucky with this yarn and the stripes weren’t altered too badly.socks

If you’d like to know more about this heel flap, check out my sock patterns.  You can see what it’s like for free on Earlybird and Summer Slice if you just want to quench your intellectual curiosity.  Basically, going toe-up, I start the flap under the heel and continue the pattern to wrap around the back of the heel too.  It makes for a nice cushion on the heel and adds some durability.

Matt’s socks are made with Lorna’s Laces Shepard Sock in Fiddlehead.  This color is so perfect for many things in his wardrobe, in case he ever wants to match his crazy hand-knit socks to things.  There are a ton of colorways in this yarn, and many of them would work well for fellas that like their socks to be both fun and slightly conservative.  Matt is fine with wilder socks like this pair, this pair, and this pair.  I’m very happy about that, because the wilder self-striping yarns are so fun to knit!socks-2

It would be incredibly hard for me to pick just one favorite kind of sock yarn, but out of the ones that I have tried I love Koigu KPPPM, Tosh Sock, Hazel Knits, and Colinette Jitterbug for amazing colors, Regia and Opal yarns for amazing durability and crazy fun self-striping yarns, and Anzula Squishy for it’s maddeningly soft cashmere-induced coziness.  I’ve used other kinds of sock yarn, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind and will be brands I’ll go back to often.  What are your favorite kinds of sock yarn?   I always love learning about more kinds of sock yarn to covet!

Fiddly, but worth it

Aw yeah! Happy to be finished! bluesand

BlueSand Cardigan is a lovely pattern.  It has enormous amounts of detail and takes you step-by-step through everything, with photo tutorials where necessary.  It does have many elements you have to attend to for a good portion of the pattern, but overall I had fun making this.  I was ready to finish it already and wear it.  When working on two larger projects (this and New Girl) progress can seem fairly slow for both.  I made headway here and there in decent-sized chunks though.

Contemplating the yard full of junk.

Contemplating the yard full of junk.

My only real changes to the pattern include using fingering weight yarn and moving the slipped stitch portion on the arm to the elbow area for an elbow patch effect.  I added a couple of extra rows on the contrast color rows at the top, but my row gauge was close enough to the pattern, so I wasn’t concerned about changing much.  In my experience, superwash yarns grow like crazy in such a large garment, so I didn’t want to add any extra length to this already over-sized garment.  Since I used fingering weight, I went up one size from my normal size to get a pretty good approximation to the chest size I wanted. I didn’t actually do a wet block for this yet.  I steamed it, since I was eager to put it on and take some photos.  I think a few ripples here and there would look nicer with a wet block, but I’m happy to get to wear it. bluesand-2

Never thought you’d use algebra after high school?  Knitters use it all the time.  In this case, if you’re subbing yarn, you just need to know your stitch gauge from the swatch with the new yarn (you swatched, right?), then look at the total stitch count around the chest size (or wherever the fit matters to you most) and divide by your swatch’s stitches per inch.  Simple, simple.  I was within a half inch of my target chest size, so I just went with one of the written sizes to make it easy for myself to follow.  A half an inch is totally within the blocking margin of error.bluesand-3

At first I didn’t think all the pocket striping was worth it, but now I’m glad it’s there.  Same thing for the i-cord bind off.  It really finishes things nicely.

If you want to know more specifics about the yarn, further project notes, and yardage used, check out my project page on Ravelry.  It’s public, so you can see it even if you aren’t a Ravelry user (but why wouldn’t you be?).bluesand-4

I love this cardigan and I should get to wear it for several chilly mornings, evenings, rainy days, and in overly air-conditioned offices for days to come.

G-g-g-g-gradient!

I love this top.  It’s Whispers, another brilliant design by Veera Valimaki.  I love her style.  The pattern was originally called “Wispers” on Ravelry and in the magazine preview, and “Whispers” in the pattern itself.  It has since been corrected on Ravelry to read “Whispers”.  I fixed my previous posts since the library graduate assistant me couldn’t stand to have all of those incorrect keywords floating around.whispers-3

This top is meant to be worn with more ease, but I only had 635 yards in my gradient kit, and I was hesitant to buy a second kit since these yarns are not sold separately.  I decided to knit the smaller size, add a bit of length for my long waist, and not worry so much about the extra ease since it would still fit at this size.  I still like the effect, and I’m so happy the kit worked for this!whispers

The kit is the Terra Cotta colorway from Black Trillium Fibres on Etsy.  I used all but a couple of yards for this project.  If you recall from an earlier post, I did run out of yarn and I ripped back to the waist decreases and made a few alterations so that I wouldn’t run out a second time.  It was a bit of a pain, but worth it to save the cost of an extra kit.  I’m sure I could have found a good use for more of these beautiful colorways though…whispers-2