Hat, Hat, Spring and the Big Decision

It seems that Spring has finally come to Maine!

I took a walk around the yarn this morning before I headed off to work and the flowers both wild and “domestic” (is that what you call them?) are starting to bloom! I love seeing my yard in full bloom! The rhododendrons were purchased years ago from a big box store and they were teeny tiny and nearly dead. We bought three plants to add some pretty between the guest cottage and the woodshed. One got stepped on during the construction of the new house and didn’t survive. The other two are starting to get bigger. Although they’re nowhere near enough to make a “statement”!

Trillium, Violets and (I think) forget-me-nots. I love seeing them! The Bleeding Heart and Creeping Phlox is just about to bloom, too. It’s simply gorgeous and it makes me very happy!

Happiness makes me think of yarn and knitting! (Duh!)

Winterberry Farm yarn

I’ve been working with my “lady farmer” at Winterberry Farm in Belgrade, Maine. Winterberry Farm is an organic farm and their sheep provide Mary with lovely fleeces that she has spun into yarn. I’m working with Mary to make up some knitting kits with her yarn and some simple yet fun patterns that will let her yarn shine. The first sample I knitted up for her is a hat from Tin Can Knits free patterns called “Barley Light.”

While my photograph isn’t the exact right color, it’s pretty close. I like this simple hat pattern because it lets the beautiful, lanolin-y yarn be the star of the show. A one-skein project. The “corrugation” adds just enough interest to make it interesting.

I’ve also knitted a rainbow-stripe hat for the Yardgoods Center. Joyce, who owns the shop, asked for a ribbed hat in a new yarn (to us). It’s a West Yorkshire Spinners “Colour Lab DK” yarn which is 100% British wool. I love working with this yarn. It’s stretchy and squishy soft. And the colors are fabulous! We have three or four colorways at the shop.

The pattern that I found is on Ravelry and it’s a free pattern by Chandi Agee at Expression Fiber Arts called “Boyfriend Beanie”. A 3×2 rib all the way up to the crown. when the decreases start, it becomes fully knitted. A quick knit and super fun! Since it’s ribbed, it’s stretchy and will fit any adult head.

And my big decision?

Oh, my Sunset Highway.

I’m not ok with the main body color. It’s too busy and it detracts from the beautiful colorwork. So, after discussing my options at knitting class on Friday and with the help of color expert, Marlene (Hi, Marlene!), I’ve decided to frog the body of the sweater and reknit it in a different yarn that isn’t so crazy busy. I’m not saying that I don’t love the MC. I do. But I don’t like it here on this sweater. I think the new yarn will be much better and will let the colorwork be the main attraction. So, that’s the big decision that I have made and tomorrow I will be doing the frogging and starting the body over.

I know I wasn’t settled with it and this is a good choice. I’d rather love the sweater and wear it than let it languish on a shelf in my closet. There are also the two different colorways. Strikes one and two and that’s all I need to inform my choice. I’m frogging the body.

Gone knitting!

Sunset Highway

For years and years, I’ve been knitting and avoiding color work.

Several yearns ago, I made a pair of snowflake mittens and I had caught the bug. I liked the smaller, more manageable projects, though. I admired other’s beautiful sweaters, socks, vests, blankets, etc. but there was no way that I was going to attempt a bigger project, say than a hat!

Well, then my friend and co-worker, Peggy suggested that we both knit Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter. Fingering weight yarn and a color work sweater for me?!?! Yeah, maybe not. Or maybe so. We started playing with yarn choices one slow afternoon at the shop and before I knew it, I’d bought some new On the Round yarn because nothing that I had in my stash would work. (Right!?)

Iteration 1 – I started with the smaller needle size, knitted up the ribbing and began the color work with the first choice of yarns. I had chosen a burgundy solid and a tonal “gold” and I didn’t like it. The fabric was too tight (and I thought it would be too small.) So, I put it away in a project bag for a few months and let it sit.

Iteration 2 – I frogged the first iteration because I didn’t like the colors and returned the yarns that I hadn’t used and bought the On the Round yarn in the Eclipse colorway. (Note … my stash has already grown by two skeins!) I was still going to use the gold … until I didn’t like them together and bought a second skein of On the Round in the Always a Bridesmaid colorway. I had a skein of Wicked with most of it left over from a baby gift that I had to make … but I didn’t really love the green at that time so I went back to my stash and found a skein of burgundy-ish that I did like. (Stash addition down to one skein.) Forging ahead! By the time I got past the colorwork chart and on to the main color, I wasn’t loving the Rebel colorway that I had chosen but I forged ahead again. I really love the yarn and although the colorway is busier than I would probably have chosen had I known ahead what it knitted up like, I still like it. Until I hit the second skein which was quite a bit different. Rip back and start over or keep going? I kept going.

Tonight I reached the bottom of the body of the sweater. There is a “line” that I can see where the skeins changed. I wish I had thought to start with the two skeins that were the same and leave the third skein for the sleeves but I didn’t. So, I am going to finish it and I think I will like it. If I don’t, I can always frog is later and start over! 🙂

One of the things I love about knitting is that it is not finite. It’s fluid. It can always be changed – frogged, re-knit, changed. I’ve learned a lot about acceptance from knitting. Accepting those imperfections, even loving them. Learning all the way.

I’m learning. Gone knitting!

Nearly Done

This is my Neck Down Summer Cardigan by Knitting Pure and Simple. It is nearly done! I’ll be excited to get it off the needles when I complete the button band and front band. Which I am determined to do today!

I am knitting this sweater with a stashed yarn. A deeply stashed yarn that I have been carrying around with me for almost ten years. It may, in truth, be more than ten years. I don’t really remember. Anyway … the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Tweedy Wool. It’s a (light) worsted weight yarn in wool with a bit of acrylic and viscose (the flecks). I’ve liked knitting with this yarn and the sweater is ok … I’m not sure I love the color any more but I’ll wear it … I think. 🙂

My swatch came out a bit off from the gauge recommended for the pattern. I decided to make the x-large rather than the large to compensate for my swatch rather than to change the needle size because I liked the way the fabric was when I knitted it on a US 7 needle. I wouldn’t have liked the fabric had I knitted with a larger needle.

The front bands shouldn’t use any more than the rest of one ball of yarn so I’m going to go out on a limb and say I used seven balls (50g, 136 yards each) of yarn to finish this sweater. It’s really cute and I’ll make it again. Initially, I just needed a good travel project … now I have a spring sweater. I think it’d be a fun one to knit in a solid yarn and embellish with some embroidery.

Knitting tip: When knitting the sleeve of this sweater, I wanted it to be around elbow length or just a touch shorter. Touching the top of the elbow. I alternated decreases, knitting two rounds, decrease a round and then knitting one round until I had 80 stitches. I did six rounds of ribbing so it wouldn’t roll and then bound off … but I bound off with the larger needle so I had some stretch! I don’t like it one little bit when the edge of knitted garments aren’t stretchy! This worked like a charm. Typically, when I am knitting garments, socks, etc. I bind off with a needle that is one or, in this case, two sizes larger than the one I was knitting with. I used a US7 for the body of the sweater and a US5 for the ribbing. I bound off with the US7.

My new favorite needles are the Chaio Goo Red Lace needles. I have three circulars. I used them all for this sweater and they make me happy. The tips are wonderful but the best part is the cords that have no memory and don’t get all tangled up in themselves. I’ll be buying more!

Gone knitting!

My Favorite Things!

Spring has arrived, finally, in Maine! I had completely forgotten that i planted these bulbs last year and it was the sweetest surprise when they popped up out of the dirt! I’ll add more because there’s nothing better than true signs of spring after a long winter!

When I was in New York City a couple of weeks ago, I visited Knitty City on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. What a lovely shop, and what welcoming people! I really enjoyed browsing the local yarns and I always like to see what shops carry that is different from what we carry at the Yardgoods Center.

I bought a couple of skeins of a new-to-me yarn dyed locally to New York. One fingering weight sock yarn and a mohair to go with it. I also bought a set of circular needles that I have learned are now my favorite needles. Chiao Goo Red Lace (with the red cord that has no memory!) The cords make knitting so much easier and I wish I had a complete set of them. We sell a set of interchangeable needles at our shop and they may have to be my next acquisition!!! I love them.

Thank you to our customer Kelly who introduced me to the Chiao Goo Red Lace needles by gifting me a US7 16 inch needle. It was such a nice surprise and I’ve, obviously, decided that I love it! They’ve got the best sharp tips and those cords are to die for!

On another note, I have finished my ginormous Boxet Bag with a pocket! It’s pretty heavy all by itself but I really like the way it turned out and I like the orange edge with the rainbow stripes! I’m not sure where this Boxet will be living but for now, it’s standing by itself in my studio.

Gone knitting.

Indigo Frost

I finished and blocked my Indigo Frost by Isabel Kramer over the weekend.

I knit mine is Ella Rae Classic wool in a heathered gray colorway. The yoke is knitted in three yarns: another Ella Rae yarn, the bright yellow-green and two stashed wools. One was a Patons Classic wool (light blue-ish) and the other was likely a Galway wool (the off-white.) I love knitting from stash.

This pattern was a very satisfying knit. It was quite simple. The “colorwork” is actually slipped stitches and that was fun to watch as it took shape. The body of the Poncho/cape/whatever is less boring than it could have been thanks to the alternating rows of yarnovers.

I did change the pattern when I knit my Indigo Frost because I don’t like turtle necks anymore. I simply cast on and did ten (or so) rounds of ribbing before starting the yoke. (Don’t forget, if you do this to shorten the length of the whole garment or you’ll have to frog it! Ask me how I know!) when I blocked this, the yarn bloomed like crazy! It evened out the slipped stitches … it was nearly a miracle!

You can see my adorable shitzu stitch marker that I bought at last year’s Maine Fiber Frolic. They look like my little dogs!

I bought the yardage suggested by the pattern and used one less ball than was asked for for my size (xl). That balance out the green that I bought that started this whole knitting adventure.

I’d heartily recommend this pattern as a quick knit that is super wearable and fun to knit. I’m wearing mine at work today and loving it!

Gone knitting!

Finishing Line

Over the Christmas holidays and the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly but surely finishing up some projects. Others, I have finished photos of and can freely post them here without any surprises being ruined.

This past week, I started and finished a Boxet Bag. This pattern is in Making Magazine #5, Color and it’s designed by Cal Patch. I had been home all week with a “broken” back … not sure what I did but I finished my morning stretching and couldn’t stand up … and I needed to do something fun! I have a full bin of wool bits and bobs that I’ve been carrying around with me since we lived in Florida and I thought this was a good way to use some of it up. If there was any disappointment, it’s that it isn’t bigger and didn’t use more but I really love this little tote. I used Patons Classic Wool in several colors. This is a crochet project and I’m so pleased that this knitter is finally feeling more sure of herself when it comes to crochet. I only had to pull it back once or twice and that means I’m learning!!! It’s so cute and it’ll be so much fun to carry!

On Sunday I frogged my Malabrigo Rios cardigan. I was finished with the body and could try it on and I hated it. It’s just not for my body – there’s nothing wrong with the sweater, it’s just not right for my body. I’m still learning that. I do love the yarn and I need to find another simple cardigan pattern that will accentuate the beautiful Malabrigo colorways. The yarn is back into it’s caked format and ready to go. Pattern suggestions are welcome. It sure seems to me that when I knit sweaters I need to make two and frog them before I get it right!

My embroidered mittens are finished and have been worn quite a lot. They’ve also inspired a few other knitters to make some of their own! I love seeing everyone’s work!

I started knitting a Newborn Vertebrae sweater as a baby gift and then I didn’t have the right needles at work so I switched gift ideas in mid-stream. I made baby Izzy a pair of adorable baby booties and sent them off to New York and then I finished the Vertebrae and it will be added to the gift drawer in my atelier for another little baby. Vertebrae is a free pattern on Ravelry and I knit it with leftovers of On the Round Signature Sock yarn in the Silverlining Tweed colorway. It’s super cute! (And so tiny!) The Booties are made in Cascade Yarn’s Fixation and the pattern is Sue’s Baby Booties. Have a look at my projects page in Ravelry (I’m Lindar.)

Have I posted pictures of my niece’s Unicorn Mittens yet? They really came out super cute and I love them! I sent sparkly Unicorn purses from Target and a few other little things that I found and thought the girls would like. But the mittens are my favorite!!! One pair had blue eyes and one had green eyes. The bright colors are fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Last photo for this post is the pillow that I made, ostensibly for my hubby. He has a brand new (to him) red truck and he loves the old fashioned trucks that he drove at camp as a teenager. I had purchased this embroidery kit forever ago and had never made it up. So, since I was resting my knitting arm, I decided to give it a shot. It turned out well but if I were to do it again, I’d choose fabric that isn’t so Christmas specific so it could be kept out for a longer time. Oh well. I keep learning as I make!

So, there you are! A few more updates as promised in the older posts. I hope that you’ll check them out, too. I have so much fun making things for my family and friends. I would much rather make than buy … it seems more personal and I enjoy the process of thinking about what people would like!

Gone knitting.

WIP No More

Since before Christmas, I’ve been putting aside pictures of projects that I have made as gifts and didn’t want to show to the “world” (all three of you) that reads my blog. SO … now that Christmas is well over, it’s time to catch up with my WIPs that are no longer.

A lot of my gifts this past year were sewn because my arm was giving me trouble when I knitted. So, with that, here are some pictures of completed gifts … and some sewing projects that weren’t gifts, too!

I made pillow cases for all of our kids this year. I found this cardinal fabric at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine and knew that for my daughters, this was one choice I had to make. And then I found the “color your pillowcase” fabric, also with cardinals, at Marden’s. I love the way they turned out and I hope the kids love them, too. I know that at least one of the kids didn’t know that they were pillowcases. Ha! Ha! The tools were for my sweet hubby and his daughter’s boyfriend, E. Both of them work in carpentry and when I saw the tools, I couldn’t resist buying the fabric! There are more pillowcases that I made for his daughters and for my son … but I didn’t photograph them. Oops!

Next, I made this pillow for my dear hubby. It’s got a red truck and it’s a vintage truck that I embroidered. I bought this pattern years (YEARS!) ago at the Augusta, Maine quilt show. I have a stack of patterns and projects that I bought and never finished. Never made. When I went through that stack, I found it and, again, since I was nursing a sore arm, I thought that I could embroider the truck and finish one more project. I think it came out pretty well considering it’s the first such pattern I’ve ever made.

One more sewn project that I don’t seem to have ever shown you here, is my American Flag quilt. I took a class to make this quilt with a friend who is an accomplished quilter. It was my first sewing class … and, while it was fun, it was quite a stretch for this novice! BUT I am happy to say that even though all the points don’t quite match, I am totally satisfied with this quilt and it hangs a good half of the year on the wall in our entry way. I even did the quilting with the help of Candy who owns a sewing school in Clinton, Maine and also “rents” her long arm quilting machine. I’m very proud to hang this quilt.

So, that’s it for today. I’ve blown out my back and this is the time limit for sitting at my desk.

Gone knitting!