Too few hours in the day

I’m moving slowly on this TTTKAL project. The knit along is supposed to end on the 27th and I’m woefully behind. The weekends have been packed with fun family time that doesn’t allow for knitting, and some of my evening downtime is spent trying to get Fitbit steps like a madwoman to fight more sternly with the post-baby pudge that’s so very settled on my bones at this minute. talavera-4The pattern is Talavera and it’s lovely. I’m going a bit off the cuff after the armholes. I ignored (by accident) an increase that was there and elected to just cast on enough stitches on each side for one lace repeat to give this a bit more of a sleeve. I’m also considering scrapping the funnel neck in favor of something that will be slightly more open and hot-weather friendly. It’s a work in progress. Luckily the back and front are mirrored right now so I can turn this into either the front or back if inspiration strikes and I suddenly need a deep scoop neck. talavera-3The temperatures here are climbing, then falling, then climbing again. I guess I’m in no real rush to finish this, but I like to have projects to write about so I’ll probably get distracted by something else again soon. talavera-5What about turning this into a halter top?

Just kidding.

Ah, knit alongs

I love knit alongs. They come with a feeling of community and connection to people far away. They inspire me to stay on track and complete a project in a timely fashion. And best of all, they give me a lot of knitting inspiration! Check out some of this gorgeousness on Instagram for the Tops, Tanks, & Tees Knit Along. I’ve participated in this knit along for the past couple of years and it’s a fun way to jump start spring and summer knitting. In 2014 I managed to do two projects! talaveraThis year I settled on Talavera by Amanda B. Collins. It’s a lovely pattern from Pom Pom’s summer 2015 issue. Even though it’s so last year, I just felt compelled to make it.

talavera-2I’m using Louet Gems Fingering in Teal. The top is not worn as shown above. I’m knitting from the bottom up, but I wanted a way to show off the lace, and pushing the top any further down on the dress form would have required some frantic work getting the lace back on the needles.

The pattern is great. The lace is fun to do and is almost easy enough to do while drinking wine at knit night. I did give up doing just that yesterday, and switched to a mostly stockinette top that I shall describe in more detail in another post. I’ve had to back track a few times when I was particularly distracted and chatty, so it’s good to have back up projects.

So far this is going quickly. I started it on Tuesday night and I should be able to finish in plenty of time for the knit along deadline (May 27th). Anyone else knitting along? What are you making?

Hello, 33.

Today is my 33rd birthday.  I have a new shirt to wear.  It’s a finished Waterlily out of Louet Gems Fingering in Terra Cotta.  I’m very pleased to have another warm weather top finished!  waterlily finishedI added waist shaping to this, decreasing 4 stitches a row about every 6 rows, then increasing back at the same rate.  I like customizing this to my shape, so if I’m working from the bottom up I start decreasing around 6-6.5 inches and begin increasing again around 9-10 inches, depending on the length of the garment.  waterlily finished-2This one is about 15.5″ from the armpit to the bottom of the garment.  I added about 4 extra inches.  I am fairly long waisted, and I like my tops to dip down an inch or so below the top of my pants.  waterlily finished-3I loved knitting this top.  The yarn was soft and bouncy, the color makes me happy, and this project accompanied me through quite a few things.  I worked on it during some Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy training, while watching The Fault in Our Stars, and while listening to The Silkworm and Shadow of Night.  It holds many memories. waterlily finished-4I love the finished item too.  It’s dressy enough to wear to work or on a date, or casual enough for anytime wear.

waterlily finished-5The lace was fun and addictive.  I took a few days break when I got to the front neck division because I had little time for focus at that juncture, and that part definitely required some focus.  I couldn’t get the number of stitches to match the pattern on the row for dividing stitches.  I was 2 short, but I ended up just dividing it evenly and forgetting about it.  At the point for the kitchener and neck edging, I wish I had used a smaller needle.  The neck edging is a little loose at the back of the neck, but I doubt I’ll notice it later.  I love this top.

One of my birthday presents this year was a Fitbit Flex (the blue armband in the second picture).  It’s a pedometer/sleep monitor/general motivator that’s inspiring me to move around and meet my fitness and nutrition goals with real time feedback.  I love it so far.  I also have some Eaden Yarns self-striping sock yarn coming in the mail soon… I love birthdays!

Happy Bastille Day for those that celebrate it!

Four of a kind

This is my fourth Ishbel in less than 12 months, if you count this one that I eventually frogged. I’m bartering with my lovely and amazing friend Natalie for some family photos next month. She likes the pattern, happened to like this lovely shade of Araucania Ranco (#108) in Teal. She also knits, but is more of a beginner, so she requested something she couldn’t make herself. I happen to believe she will conquer anything she sets her mind to, but I also don’t mind making her a little bit of lacy shawl.

ishbel 4

I’m making the smaller size, as I have on this one and this one. To me, smaller shawls are a little more wearable, because they can serve as a fun neck accessory more often in the year. It gets very warm in the south! Ok, really more like scorching. The lace repeats are a little like “potato chip knitting,” according to the Knitmore Girls. It’s hard to put down when you get going.

I cast this on when I came to an impasse on the Ellybob Cardigan. Since the designer responded so quickly, I can work on both! The other night I had both in front of me and I would switch off every couple of rows. It’s nice to have projects with different needle sizes going to give my hands a break if they fatigue on one size of needles.

I’m putting this out here on the blog, so I’ll do it, really. When I finish either this shawl or Z’s cardigan I will finish the sleeve caps on Matt’s cardigan and block the pieces so I can seam and pick up that shawl. I at least want to get the sleeves and blocking done before I move on to another project. It doesn’t bother me to have so many UFOs going at once, but I know as the weather warms I will not want to touch heavier sweaters.

I love getting into the rhythm with this lace pattern. I’d better get back to it.

Damsel in Damask

I love this pattern. I love this yarn. The two had to meet or I think my personal universe might have come unhinged. The yarn is Artisan Sock by Hazel Knits in Saffron. The pattern is Damask by Kittman Figueroa.

As many people have said on Ravelry, the lace is much easier than it seems. You get into a rhythm and the lace is easier to read as you go on. I knocked this baby out in about four days. Luckily, newborns do sleep a lot (especially during the day).

I anticipate wearing this all of the time. I really don’t like making scarves, but shawls charm me. I made the small size. The straight long end is meant to block out to about 40 inches, but it easily blocked out to 52 inches. I used about 372 yards of the 400 yard ball, about 8 less yards than the pattern called for. The pattern doesn’t have a gauge on it, but I went down a needle size automatically since I’m a pretty loose knitter. I was sad that I didn’t have the 440 yards needed for a medium size in the skein, but now that it’s been blocked I’m very happy with the size. Superwash yarns tend to expand really well.

The mornings and evenings are getting much cooler so it won’t be long until this gets extensive wear.

Witty knitting

I’m starting to get some knitting groove back. I placated myself with simple stockinette socks for my brother and the Featherweight Cardigan mindlessness for a couple of days. Then, this gorgeous Saffron yarn in Artisan Sock by Hazel Knits kept bugging me. It was on the shelf in the living room whispering about how wonderful its color is, essentially taunting me. I had earmarked it for a Damask shawl. I was a little scared to undertake this because it seemed like some serious lace. Like, lace that you always have to keep your mind on or you’re left in a crying little puddle when you mess up over and over.

Well, I started it and I adore it. It’s actually more intuitive than you think. I was first intimidated by the 17 pages of pattern. This is because Kittman Figueroa gives you a chart and written out version for every pattern row. I am not a huge fan of knitting the purl-seven-together nupps, but I think they look nice. So far, I’ve only made tiny mistakes and I’ve caught them on the same or next row. Thank goodness newborns sleep so much.

I’m on row 47 or 124 for the small size, and the rows decrease as you go, so I might even call myself halfway done. I wish I’d had 40 more yards in this skein to make the medium size. I thought about trying it anyway, but it seemed like most Ravelry folks did use more than 400 yards, so it was deemed too risky.

It’s nice to know my brain is still up to this kind of performance.

Keeping calm and casting on.

The Featherweight Cardigan has been blocked. I still need to weave in the ends, and take a picture of course. It’s a little snug in the arms, but that’s to be expected, given that I made my non-preggo size and preggo-arms are bigger than that.

What’s next you say? Well, as much as I should be plugging away on the baby blanket (which is now somewhere in the 720+ stitches in a round range), I have decided I must cast on for something lace. I’ve decided on Ishbel, a lovely shawl that has 11,355 Ravelry projects. Whoa.

I started making this a couple of years ago and then quit on it for no good reason. I’ve chosen a different yarn, because I was previously knitting it out of some Araucania Sock that was a gorgeous color, but didn’t feel that great to knit with. Oh, and if you ever try to wind a ball of that stuff by yourself on a swift and ball winder…BEWARE. At the shop we’re always joking that it had to be put together by children. It’s a tangled mess. I even wrote the company about it once and got no response, after I struggled to wind three balls of the sock yarn and had to cut them in order to make them useable. I still haven’t knit up a single one of them.

Regardless, it seems I’m fairly long-winded this morning. This is the yarn I’ll be using for Ishbel.

It’s Lorna’s Laces Solemate. It’s color 310, Catalpa. The fiber content is 55% Superwash merino, 15% Nylon, and 30% Outlast. This is definitely more synthetic than I normally use in a project, so we’ll see how that goes. I was charmed by the color, and it’s definitely still very soft.

Since it’s a project with a good amount of lace, I wanted to check and see if the color changes would outshine the lace. An easy way to do this is check the color contrast in a black and white photo. I saw this a couple of years ago in the book Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarns and was reminded of it again in this post.

From the picture, it looks like there won’t be hugely dramatic color changes, so I’m going to forge ahead.