Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, June 23, 2014

Engineered Seams

Let me start off by saying that I adore this sweater.  I really do.  flaws and all, I have worn it a lot, even though I finished it right before it started to get warm.  I have worn it for days on end, and the yarn is actually machine washable (crazy, I know, but it is - I don't put it in the dryer, though, because that was a lot of stitches.....)

I will make it again, and I will make changes, but oh, how I love it.  First, just look at it:

Doesn't it have that, slouchy, sexy, edgy thing going on?  Oh, but it's not so easy to look this good.  Usually, when I'm not paying attention (most of the time) the bottom short row section goes all rogue on me and ends up looking like a strange appendage/fanny pack/flap of something:

which means I spend a lot of time doing this:

This annoys me, but I love the sweater and the neckline is DAMN sexy and I loves it so I will put up with it.  I think the floppiness of the bottom of the sweater is due to two factors.  1 - the yarn I was using was a little thinner than the intended yarn - the designer used two strands of a laceweight yarn and I think my kinda skinny fingering weight (Quaere Silk Singles) may have been a bit too fine.  2 - The designer used all wool, which as we know, has less drape, more spring, and Silk Singles is, aptly named, 30% silk.  This means it's undeniably gorgeous (as is the color, oh my god, my colorway is Slate which captures perfectly the gray/not gray complexity of slate.  while the sweater is definitely "gray" it is also purple, blue, and olive green.  sigh.  i just love it) but it's also more drapey and this does no favors to the bottom slouchy section.

Also, given that I have had two adorable children, I may be a bit sensitive about my torso and it's general squishiness, so some of that extra fabric just bugs me.  So next time I make it (and there will be a next time because, dear lord that neckline...) I'm going to leave out the short rows on the bottom.  Or possibly do fewer repeats of the short row section... it's an easy hack of the pattern and it will use less yarn and bug me less.

I'll still wear it, and love it, and fix it incessantly to make it look slouchy -- not floppy.  I'm still trying to figure out what to make this out of for next time - possibly Tyche, Danu's more slender sibling.  I think the all-wool-ness and its slightly heavier gauge will make this work much better. Or I could go all drape and make another freaking dress.... oh, oh, i'm insane, but that would be awesome.... possibly with short sleeves?

Seriously, I have to stop going down the rabbit hole with the knitting these days.  Fall yarn previews (the yarn we have sent early so I can knit samples) are coming in and I need to make the samples.  I'm working on SO MANY THINGS that I can't go stash diving and knitting a dress on fingering weight yarn.  as tempting as that is.....

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


New patterns, I know!  I found a new bff yarn (A Hundred Ravens' Danu) last fall and just after we met and fell in love I saw a friend and she was wearing a (store-bought) sweater and the stitch pattern was like a little mind-worm.  I had to figure it out, I had to make something with it.  And thus, my little design collection, Swarm, began.

I started off easy with a pair of fingerless gloves: my worker bee mitts...

I love the squishy, quilty little pattern and the yarn, A Hundred Ravens' Danu... not only is it made by a dear, lovely, woman, it is also f-ing awesome.  We all love a single ply yarns for how shiny and amazing they are, but usually they break your heart with the shredding, shedding, pilling, and general lack of heartiness.  Danu has no such issues.  After a year of wearing these mitts pretty near constantly, they look great and I'm sure I'll get another couple of seasons out of them before I only wear them around the house.

When I went to Kentucky for my grandfather's funeral I happened to do a bit of vacation yarn shopping at ReBelle in Lexington.  Lovely shop, they have a similar obsession with Malabrigo that I do and I picked up a few skeins of Rastita, because, reasons.  After I finished Clara's stripey cardigan I needed something that was portable (aka not my stripey boxy, I had to ride in a limo, and well, sit in a church, so a hat) So I thought I'd wind up a skein and work on my next installment - hivemind. 

Well, I loved the Rastita, but it just doesn't have the same oomph that the Danu has.  The hat flopped around and was generally miserable.  I wore it *on top of* another hat during this winter from hell, and it was great for that, or if I were to get some sort of head wound, it would certainly cover the swelling -- but it wasn't really what I wanted.  So I made a second version out of the Danu, and again, with the love:

This hat is a practical slouchy hat.  With the crazy brim folded up to cover your delicate ears, and the honeycomb pattern -- which is very quilty and really does hold in the heat very well.  I do love it.  I can't believe it took me this long to get it photographed and re-written.  Sadly, the original version was one of the 2 files lost in my great coffee + laptop experiment of 2014, so I had to re-write it and the decreases that I had written down and emailed to myself magically appeared after 7 months -- email isn't supposed to get lost in the mail, and yet this email just arrived, literally, 7 months late.  weird.  I took it as a sign and wrote the thing down promptly.

So, hey, here it is and I'm thrilled with it.  I think we should do a KAL, don't you?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

And then I did it again

Well the first dress went so well. And then I saw this pattern that I loved and this model -- here check it out. I found the Enchanted Mesa intriguing but I wondered if I would like the finished project.  But this woman made 3 of them and then I started looking at the rest of the projects and I just had to give it a shot.

I had a PILE of Cash Iroha from when we decided to discontinue it from the shop.  I mean, I loved that yarn like I love my kids and I just couldn't sell it at a massive loss.  Sometimes Naomi and I figure, hey, we bought it, we're just taking it home.  So we divvied up the colors and into my stash it went - for like 4 years.... sigh. 

I knew that enchanted mesa was a pattern that changes size by gauge and I thought the cash iroha would be the right gauge for my size and I just went for it.  In hindsight I wish that I had done a gauge swatch and laundered it because after blocking this sweater is enormous.  I love it and I wear it but I do wish it were smaller.  This is such a common complaint from our customers that I feel both a sense of solidarity for it and also like a bit of an idiot because the thing that I am always telling people I did myself.  From the photo above I really need to cuff the sleeves or rip them back I mean, it looks like I don't have hands.... wait, here are my hands... oh phew.

sigh.  But the sweater was insanely fun to knit and I would make it again (in a different gauge) in a heartbeat.  I also love how some people make it in a solid color, or also make fewer short row sections on the shoulder to make the armhole on that side smaller and the result is a much more closely fitting sweater.  This is definitely a pattern that feels like a choose your own adventure story and there are so many modifications that people have made that it feels like as a group we are tweaking the design and it's fantastic.  It felt a little odd to me to pay so much for what is essentially a "springboard" pattern.  That being said, it has been such a fun trip knitting it that I feel like the experience is worth it.  I have to admit feeling a little weird and disappointed about it when I looked at the pattern initially.  After knitting the garment I've concluded I'm happy to pay Stephen for the design inspiration because it is safe to say that I would never have come up with this idea myself.  I do wish that I could send a dollar to all of those projects whose mods inspired me to a) make it in the first place b) make it a dress and c) re-think color.  Without all of those awesome mods presented I never would have made it, and I would probably not even think about making a 2nd, or 3rd...  I think it really does show why I love Ravelry so much - how community, even online community can make us all more creative and experimental.  And also why I love Stephen West's designs so much because they are fun, thoughtful, and the also encourage me to be creative and experimental. 

Now that I'm blogging about it I'm remembering how much FUN it was to make and I kind of want to make another.  Oh no, I feel another stash dive coming up.... I need to finish some things on my needles first.  Really, I have to have some self control.... but I probably won't.  heh. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spring Sproing KAL - Tutorial

Like I said last time, I feel a little goofy for making this a tutorial - but I know how some knitters see a new technique and freak out and don't want to try it.  Much like my kids when approaching a new vegetable.  This is a fear of new things that we all have and I figured I'd put some pictures together to show you just how stinkin' easy spiral knitting is and you'd all join in the fun of the KAL. (which I accidentally made 2 months long instead of 1, oops.  I say, it's just more time for you to knit lots of hats and get multiple entries in the giveaway -- am I right?)

So here you are, having just finished the ribbing with your main color.  You've increased, and you are ready to join your contrast color. 

I'm using Skacel Simplinatural which is my new best friend -- even though it has enough alpaca in it to make it too itchy for me to wear on my head.  I'm sadly, a little allergic to alpaca.  It never used to be this way, I blame too much time rolling around in it, I just developed an intolerance.  Luckily I'm not allergic to wool or cashmere, so don't feel too bad for me :)

Also, I knit the brim on US8 because this will end up as a shop sample and someone *cough* Naomi *cough* says my brims are always too loose.  I aim to please, so I knit the ribbing in an 8 and switched to a 9 when I knit my increase row.

When I tie on a new color of yarn I always (regardless of the pattern author's requests to do otherwise) tie my new color onto my old color.  I make a half-hitch around the MC with my CC and then I can slide the CC up to where I'm going to start knitting:

Now, start knitting with your CC - nothing fancy, just knit a round.  Note that I have no end of round marker because I will just stop when I get to the last blue (MC) stitch.

Doo doo dee doo dah, turn all those stitches gray (CC) -- even the last one!

Check it out from the back - just a round of gray (CC)

Now just grab the blue (MC) and start knitting - there will be no twisting of the yarns or otherwise messing about, just grab the blue(MC) and go:

See, blue, then gray, then blue:

knit the rest of the round with the blue (MC) and then, you guessed it, pick up the gray (CC) and start knitting, then when you've knit a round with the gray, pick up your main color and knit again and soon enough you'll have hat.

The decreases with this hat are purposefully offset to make the spiral more spiral-y which I think is a thoughtful touch.  To be honest, Naomi put my name on the pattern because at one point I told her that it wasn't slouch-y enough (Naomi was not a connoisseur of the slouchy hat, and was relying upon me for critical advice in the genre ;) I told her that she needed to increase the number of stitches to make it slouchy - she couldn't just make the hat longer.  I was, as usual, only too happy to give her my opinion and to my surprise, she gave me author credit.   All the rest of the details, including the sweet decreases are all her. 

It's such a quick knit that I finished days ago and I'm just waiting for better lighting and a quiet moment (hard to find them both together these days) to take a horrid selfie so you can see the end result.  I wish that I could wear it for more than 5 minutes without wanting to scratch my forehead off because I would certainly knit my self a snuggie out of this yarn if I could.  Why is something so soft to my hands so wretched to the rest of my person?  It seems a bit unfair -- my hands love love love this yarn, the rest of me thinks it's poison.

I haven't weighed my leftovers yet, but I'm pretty sure that I could get an opposite hat -- switching the MC and CC.  So that makes each hat quite a bit more affordable, and --hint hint-- each finished project you link to the KAL page gets you an entry for the prizes, so make two and double your chances!

Really, that was a pathetic little tutorial -- do you see now how easy spiral knitting is?  It's so easy it barely qualifies as a "technique" and the pattern is FREE, free I tell you!

 joooooin our KAL