Moving, Test Knitting and Christmas

IMG_5849I can’t figure out what drove me to say “yes” to a test knitting project this close to Christmas when I knew I had several knitting projects that had to be completed before Christmas! What was I thinking? Oh, yes. Maybe I was thinking that the last sweater I test knitted for Lori was a big hit and I loved it and this one would be great, too?

So, I have set aside all the other projects in favor of “Open Star” by VersaciKnits. Lori designs classic and timeless sweaters for adults and children. I love her designs. Open Star is a cardigan with a classic shape and a unique stitch pattern that leaves a “lacey” look without being a lace pattern. Knit in a worsted- or aran-weight yarn, it’s a relative quick-knit. (I’d have had it done long ago if I hadn’t had to move into a new home two weeks before it was due to be completed.) Needless to say, my test knit is late this time. But I have enjoyed it … most of the time.

To complete this sweater, one has to be able to count to four and three. Sometimes this is a challenge for me. This is where I have made mistakes and had to frog back several rows (time after time.) To be fair, it can be a bit confusing when you get to the shaping of the shoulder and neck. But not confusing enough for me to have made so many silly mistakes. I think my head and heart were unpacking boxes when my hands were knitting.

I love the yarn that I chose and that is Quince and Co’s Lark in the Lupine colorway. The yarn is smooth and squishy and feels wonderful in my hands. It’s got a wonderfully soft hand and isn’t splitty. I love the color, too.

I am looking forward to finishing the sleeves so that I can assemble and wear this lovely cardigan … especially since this “winter” in Maine has been so warm. This would be the perfect “jacket” to wear out Christmas shopping!

Gone knitting!

We Interrupt This Life … Vacation Knitting

I just spent a lovely week with my siblings, some spouses and some kids on the “left coast”. Two days in Marin County where my “Irish twin” brother (not really but close enough) lives with his wife and two adorable daughters.

Horsey Rides

Horsey Rides

Happy Baby

Happy Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faye will be 3 in December and Lilah will be one at the end of November. They are precious! It was the first time any of us had met the girls and we all had a blast. Well, their parents are sleep-deprived because of Lilah’s teething. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The Aqua hotel in Marin was a perfect place to stay! They have rental bikes and a beautiful full breakfast buffet. In the evenings after dinner when the girls had to go to sleep, the rest of us sat in the lobby with Wendy (at the front desk) who poured us a glass of wine and baked us fresh hot cookies. She even got the nephews and a brother or two a glass of milk.

Sister selfie

Sister selfie

On Saturday we had to say farewell to my sister who was headed home to prepare for a bike trip to Italy. (She brought her bike to California and rode every day!) The rest of the crew headed out to Lake Tahoe, Nevada for a few days at the lake. Some fun pictures are at the end of this post!)

With all the family activity, I didn’t get a lot of knitting done. But I did do some.

My Arne & Carlos Regia sock number one is finished and sock number two is started. I love knitting with this yarn and I love the sock! I’m using Susan B. Anderson’s How I Make My Socks pattern which is a very simple, plain sock pattern and my Signature US 1 DPNs. Can’t wait to add them to my sock drawer. For now, they’re in time out so I can finish my test knit sweater. It’s called “Crew, by Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits. Knit with a DK yarn, I’m using Berroco Fiora in a deep teal color. (Color 3856, dye lot 83925) I am using my Knitters Pride interchangeable needles (US 5) and a 32 inch cord. The pattern is great and I love the drape of the fabric. I’m knitting two sleeves at a time to keep them even and (hopefully) accelerate the finish. I can’t wait to wear it! I’ve finished my Manos Serena shawl. It still needs to have the ends woven in and be blocked but in our little cabin there really isn’t room for me to block knitwear. If we have a sunny day tomorrow I may lay it outside on the grass. I’m eager to see it finished!

Gone knitting (deadline looms)!

Fay, Uncle Rick and Papa

Fay, Uncle Rick and Papa

Clowning around in the cul-de-sac

Clowning around in the cul-de-sac

Catching Crawfish (we cooked and ate them, too!)

Catching Crawfish (we cooked and ate them, too!)

Tahoe Mountains

Tahoe Mountains

Tahoe sky

Tahoe sky

Old wooden boat on the lake.

Old wooden boat on the lake.

Diane, Greg & Melissa - my cousins - at the beach picnic

Diane, Greg & Melissa – my cousins – at the beach picnic

Cousin Jack and Cousin Lily

Cousin Jack and Cousin Lily

Papa and Lilah

Papa and Lilah

Princess Faye -swimmer

Princess Faye -swimmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crew – A Test Knit

 

IMG_5175

Crew

If I show you a picture of the finished sweater, I think Lori would have to kill me. (Not really.) But just in case, I wanted to show you my progress on my test knitting project for VersaciKnits.

I “worried” about the yarn for several days and finally just “bit the bullet” and bought some lovely Berroco yarn in their Folia line (40% cotton, 30% viscose, 15% alpaca, 10% nylon, 5% wool). It’s like a mutt blend of yarn with a little bit of everything. But I liked the soft hand and the gauge looked like it would match the pattern requirements. I bought eight skeins/hanks to make the size large in the teal blue color #3856 (dye lot 83925) and, of course, neither of my photographs is color-accurate! I’m knitting with a US 5 circular needle (Knitter’s Pride Dreamz).

IMG_5188I have nine or ten inches knitted up and I am loving the drape and feel of the fabric. I guessI should recheck the gauge to make sure I’m on target. My swatch was pretty much perfect. Stitches were spot on and the rows were a tiny bit shy of what was required but I didn’t block the swatch very aggressively and I know I could have made it work. I’ll remember that with the sweater pieces before I seam!

Our timeline is to have the sweater finished in four to six weeks. We got the pattern on July 16th and have had one update since then. I’d better quit blogging and get knitting!

Gone Knitting!

 

 

Fannar by Shannon Okey (aka knitgrrl)

Yarn - Cascade 220  (Color #9401 Lot #0739

Yarn – Cascade 220 (Color #9401 Lot #0739

I am nearly done with my first test knitting “job”. It’s been a very rewarding experience, and beyond the knitting, I’ve been privileged to “meet” some wonderful and fun knitters. Enough so that I am hoping they’ll take me up on my offer to host a knitting retreat at our house in Maine next September (2015).

My pattern is called “Fannar” and will be in the new book, coming out soon, called “Frozen: Aurora Borealis Mittens.” (No, I didn’t get paid, since I know you’re all wondering!) When I received my yarn, “ordinary” Cascade 220 in a lovely ivory and grey tweed, I immediately felt some relief from my perceived design-envy. First lesson learned: You don’t have to use exotic (aka pricey) yarns when you design! Who knew!? I was so excited that I nearly tinkled! 🙂

The fabric - unfelted

The fabric – unfelted

The initial pattern that I was sent was a chart. Now, I’ve knitted from charts many times before but never for an entire pattern and it was intimidating for about ten minutes. Until I realized that I knew this! I know this! I had it covered and I could do it. And I cast on with a provisional cast on to leave some live stitches for the cuff.

I knitted up the largest size and after I’d reached the thumb crotch my gut was telling me that this puppy was absolutely over-the-top humongous! I sent a photo to Shannon and she, too, was amazed at its girth. So, I frogged the behemoth and we started from scratch. As Shannon was out of town, Andi stepped in and whipped up an entirely new mitten pattern. And I started knitting again … this time a more appropriate size, even knowing that it is going to be felted.

Thumb Gusset (part deux)

Thumb Gusset (part deux) – way more normal!

The second iteration of “Fannar” is much more normal and the knitting process is super quick. Since I got the one-color mitten, I think I got the easiest job in the book. It’s been super fun to follow the secret Facebook group and watch as other test knitters knit their patterns. And to learn about the comment threads via email, used to communicate. It makes me want to knit more color work. That may be my summer challenge.

I’m wrapping up the second mitten and will finish the second thumb today. Then my job will be over. I can’t wait to see the finished product – the mitten will be felted in Ohio and a cuff will be knitted on afterward (thus the special cast on). I think I am going to have to knit up a pair for myself and felt them and see how it turns out … just for sh#$s and giggles!

What an excellent experience!

Gone knitting.

Still Learning!

I may be creeping toward “old” but I am still learning every day. The lesson that I am learning right now is self-care. I’ve spent the majority of my life taking care of others; my children, my (now ex-) husband, my work, the kids at school, my dogs. You get the drift. I know that the old airplane adage is true. You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others… I’ve just never been very good at it. Today, my body has given me no choice. I have to stop and take care of myself.

I’ve taken myself to two urgent care offices in the last week and am not sure that I won’t be visiting my primary care physician before tomorrow ends. I have way more prescriptions than I’ve ever had on my kitchen counter. And I’m not all better in less than 24 hours. I just keep trying to remember to be patient. I’m really such a lucky girl to be as healthy as I am. Need I add the caveat, “at my age”?

Yup, they're all mine!

Yup, they’re all mine!

So, you ask, what are you doing to take care of yourself today? I am working hard to stay still. I’m working on my test knitting project. This is the first time I’ve done any test knitting and I’m excited and anxious about it. I know I know how to knit and have knitted for other people before. But I’ve never knitted a sample for a new book before. So, I’m learning to be more confident. It’s only a pair of mittens for heaven’s sake! So, that’s my big project today. To take one stitch at a time and get ‘er done! I know I can do it (and I’m excited to be offered the opportunity!) Every new knitting experience that I take on makes me grow as a knitter and as a person, too. I learn more about myself and gain confidence with each new attempt.

My pattern is called “Fannar” and it is being stitched up in Cascade 220 on my US #8 needles. I’ll share more as it is allowed. For now, this project is being kept in the project bag! 🙂

My Cooperative Press Test Knit Project … just starting!

My Cooperative Press Test Knit Project … just starting!

So, for today, I’m managing many more medicines than I am accustomed to and I’m working on a project that is challenging my knitting boundaries … and will expand them without a doubt! I’ve helped to fund an Annie Modesitt book, History on Two Needles Exploring Art History Through Modern Hand Knits and now I’m knitting samples for Shannon Okey’s new book, Frozen: Aurora Borealis Mittens, due out “soon”.

Gone knitting!