Sunday, January 31, 2016

I'm Back!

We are back from January Thaw!  I have lots to tell you about and some things to show too, but I want to take some pics in decent light tomorrow, so you all will have to wait until later for those.

We had a super weekend and I knitted my way through it all!  The consensus is yes we will go again.

For now, I'll catch you on the purl side!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finally Finished Friday

My Quicksilver by Melanie Berg and yarn by Sun Valley Fibers is finished, blocked and I'm wearing today.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

On The Road

I'm off with some of the Knit Wits to Sun Valley Fibers January Thaw for the weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On The Needles This Week

Still on is Drachenfels.  I was trying to have it done by this weekend's January Thaw, but instead it will be traveling with me, hopefully to be finished.

I could not resist casting on a new Hospice Shawl out of three colors of Folio I picked up last November.  You can't see much here, the pattern is Cabin Four's Water's Edge.  I am just changing it up a bit to use three colors, hopefully, there will be more to show next week.

The colors show up below much better in some new light.  I love Folio, it is so soft and I think will be perfect for Hospice.

And really not much difference on Labrouste, just one  more row added to it from last week.

Last weekend, we were over in Iowa for Poppy and his cousin's baptism.

We took the Tall Guy's Mom with us.

Both boys were tuckered out after their morning.

But not Mona Lisa who insisted that only the blonde kids could play "cake"!

I'm so glad she considers me one of the blond kids!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finally Finished Friday

The Meteor Shower shawl from KnitCircus Yarns' Come What May --

I've Got Stash

Some might say that I've got more stash then shops have yarn.  Yes, like WIPS, I have a nice stash, so you can understand why it so often calls me to want to cast on something new.  And one might also understand why my stash and my goal for 2016 is a yarn store's nightmare. 2016 is the year of Love Your Stash/Go Cold Sheep.  

One of the podcasts that I regularly listen to is  The Yarniacs Podcast.  I am also a member of their Ravelry group.  One of the ongoing discussions on the board is to list your goals for the first quarter of 2016,, Love Your Stash Challenge.  I'll be knitting from stash this year as much as possible, because I really need to get this stash down a bit.

While thinking about the whole stash thing, I started looking at how important listing stash in Ravelry is and how helpful it can be for not only to the person whose stash it is, but to others who may need that certain color/dye lot of a yarn and may not know that there is someone out there who has just what you are looking for.

Let's start with adding stash - but beware if you add stash, it is going to show up on all of your friends feed and they may start wondering if you went yarn shopping without them!  Take a picture of your yarn one color, one brand, one name at a time.  Add your stash, be sure and include the color way name and number along with the dye lot.  This is so very important if someone is looking for a specific dye lot or even if you out shopping and know you need one more skein of something in your dye lot, you can open up your stash on Ravelry and voila, the info is right at your hands.  One other very important point, be sure and tag your yarn if you want to sell it, trade it or not.

 If someone is desperate for your dye lot, and they read that you won't sell it, that it is just stash, they might just skip over your stash when hunting down a stray dye lot.  Or, they may be desperate and still message you to ask you to part with it!

Entering your stash helps you keep a record of what you have on, but it can also be pretty helpful.  If you find a pattern that you like and you know you don't have the exact yarn already in your stash, and you really want to use a stash yarn, Ravelry will list yarns that you have stashed that are similar in properties that are in your stash that you can use.  Right under the suggested yarn on the pattern detail page, is a link to your possible yarns in your stash.

If you click on the __  ideas, Ravelry will pull up the two yarns in your stash that you could use.  How cool is that?!  Takes the guess work out of deciding IF you have something you can use from your stash.

I love this feature!  Some times I just need some help in using my stash when my first inclination is to order new.  Although, I have not been very good lately about adding stash (maybe I should have done better at it when we moved it all over a year ago to the new house), I really want to make a better effort in the new year to take stock of what I have, how much and enter it into Ravelry,  so less time is spent on trying to decide what to use and more time knitting!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday Website!knityork/i9yov

You gotta watch this episode.  And if you have not watched the others, check them out too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

No Really It Is!

I often wonder why I decide that I should have knit something for cold weather after it is very cold.  Just sayin.  Stay warm!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What's On What's Off

Off the Needles --

It was a good thing that at 2 a.m. this morning that I decided to not start the 300+ stitch bind off on my Meteor Shower Shawl.  Cause this would have made me a bit cranky.  I ran out of yarn midway into the bind off this morning.  It is not because of the pattern or the yarn requirements, let me make that perfectly clear.  I did go up a size on the needle size then the pattern called for, so it is totally on me.

But, with a few modifications all is well and it is bound off with just inches left to spare.

Quicksilver is off the needles as well and all of the ends woven in.  I've decided to leave them hang until I block it and then I'll snip them off.

No work for me tomorrow as it is a state  holiday, MLK Day, so I will start with Meteor Shawl and block it and then if it dries quick enough, I'll soak Quicksilver and lay it out.  Meteor Shawl is to wear next week to Poppy's baptism and Quicksilver is for January Thaw at the end of the month.

On the needles--

Mona Lisa's big blankie has seen absolutely no knitting time this week.  I've been working on first the Quicksilver and then Meteor Shower and have had not time for knitting anything else.  It is kind of amazing, it you stick with something how it gets done, now isn't it?!

I would love to have Drachenfels done by the end of the month for January Thaw too and plus I have the perfect turtle neck that will go well with it.

And poor Labrouste.  It is still in the same state it was several weeks back when I was supposed to give it some time every night between 10 and 11.  That hasn't happened.  But perhaps, it is time for


Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday Website

Little Cotton Rabbits -- the website and name is just too darn cute!

Saturday, January 09, 2016

My Favorite Sweater Designers

I am pretty certain that I am not alone in the department of favorite sweater designers.  You know those designers that you just look at first because:

A.  You like their style
B. You like the way they do patterns
C.  You can easily see yourself in their patterns
D.  They are most like those sweaters you have in your closet already
E.  Every one else is knitting them and you need to join on the band wagon!

For 2016, these are my go to sweater designers and the ones that I'll probably knit the most of, and my rationale for why I like them.

Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits - I just like the way she shapes sweaters
Heidi Kirrmaier - She makes me think while knitting
Thea Colman - I just love her sweaters and hey, they are named after alcoholic drinks
Knitting Pure and Simple - Top Down Sweaters
Amy Herzog - She wants to make me look good in my sweaters
Anne Hanson - Even though she knits in pieces, I love her sweaters
Kim Hargreaves  - Oh so stylish!
Norah Gaughan - Again with the styles
Cheryl Oberle - Knitted Jackets, what can I say, I love the book and I love every sweater in it!  And well, Cheryl is a peach of a lady too.
EZ/Meg Swansen - both of these ladies are the reason I am the knitter I am today.  There is not much I can say about them!

What are your favorite sweater designers?

Friday, January 08, 2016

The Swatch Collection

Yes, I swatch.  Always.  In some way or form, I swatch.  Oh, there was a day when I never swatched, and I couldn't figure out why my sweaters never fit.  Many years later, I know  there are a myriad of different reasons why my sweaters didn't fit well, one of the top reasons is gauge.  After picking out the pattern you want to knit and the yarn you want to knit your sweater out of, one of the most important things you can do is swatch. 

I know we are all anxious to immediately cast on the moment you finally get your yarn wound and needles in hand, but please take time to do a gauge swatch and do it large enough that you can actually measure it.

As much as I hate to take the time, once I am finished with my gauge swatch, I dunk it in some water and let it fully soaked, ring it out a bit and put it out on the table to dry.  Sometimes, I'll help it along with a fan or now that it is winter, it gets a nice drying in front of the heat register.  An hour or so and it is dry and ready to be measured.

If I am knitting my gauge swatch in stockinette, you can see from the closeup above and the picture below that I surround my stockinette with garter both at the top and bottom but at the sides as well.  This insures that the stockinette I am measuring is nice and flat and I don't have to worry about the edges curling under and having to fight them to count the stitches.

A gauge swatch is helpful in determining if your sweater is going to fit, but it also can be a great tool to see if the colors are going to look good together.  These particular swatches were for shawls that were done in garter so quite naturally, I knitted the swatches in garter is well.

This most important gauge swatch is for Tangerine Rose, A Knit Swirl Sweater. You can tell from the picture the stitch patterning has a penchant for squishing together, so it would be really beneficial to make sure that the gauge swatch comes pretty close to where the pattern says it should be.
There is so much knitting to this sweater that YOU really don't want it to not fit when it is finally done.

Most times, I make large swatches, I like being able to get a real feel for the fabric that I have created, play with it, wad it up, hold it up to the light, see if it is going to be flimsy, is it going to stretch out too much when I wear it?  And in the case of this Madelinetosh, how is the pooling going to behave?  Am I going to have to alternate skeins while knitting? (Ugh!)

This particular swatch, I deviated from my norm and just knit a much smaller swatch than I normally do.  What I really was going for here is to decide whether I wanted to knit something from the yarn in plain stockinette, Featherweight,  or if I wanted to knit Uma using a bit of a stitch pattern to it.  This Madelinetosh yarn is a single and my past experiences with singles is they sometimes like to pill, so I was experimenting with knitting it with a stitch pattern,  which I know helps cut down on the pilling or at least the appearances of pilling.

I never can quite understand why a pattern indicates to do a gauge swatch in stockinette only.  I just don't get how I could ever expect that it would fit.  I do appreciate a pattern so much more when they give the gauge measurements in pattern too.

This swatch was a bit of playing around.  It helped me to see the gauge of a yarn I absolutely love, Wistful, from Briar Rose Fibers (it has Alpaca in it).  I have several sweater quantities in it so it is giving me the basis for all future projects out of it.  I won't swatch each time, I will just use the numbers I have for this swatch.  I, also used it to play around with a lace pattern to see if it could be seen in the yarn.  I used rows of garter throughout the swatch to separate what I was doing to give me a clear field for measuring and deciding if I liked what was happening.

I know that swatching may seem like a waste of precious knitting time, and it uses up yarn (buy an extra ball for your project), but I am glad I do take the extra time with my swatches and don't knit a small little bit, measure it and immediately rip it out and call it on gauge.   I know there are knitters out there who never swatch "because I always get gauge" and I say REALLY?  Who are you?  And you probably can eat whatever you want too, don't you?!

Now, if you want to learn more about gauge, I heartily endorse buying Sarah Peasley's Class, Getting Gauge, over on Craftsy.  I bought it because I know Sarah and wanted to see it, and I'm glad I did.  I learned a couple of things that I will use in my future swatches.  

Have a great knitting weekend and swatch it!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

It is back to work tomorrow and I am sitting here in my chair watching the birds flit around on the porch, knitting and watching old episodes of The West Wing.  The birds were hoping for sunshine as well, but as it turns out, it is a gray day.

But, I am not letting that determine my mood.  Oddly enough, I'm kind of sort of ready to go back to work.  I know if I had too many more days off right now, I'd gain another 5 lbs and where would that put me.  Having these past 11 days off, gives me a sense of what retirement might be like, and before that happens, I need to make some changes, oh you know, like not eating everything in sight and despite my foot that is still acting up (I'm making a dr appt next week for a follow up for it and another issue), getting a few steps in on the treadmill.

Sundays, as you know,  around pjknits is a new week and since it really is the first one of the new year, I'm ready to begin it full force.

 I hopped on the scale and am down almost three pounds from last week and that is really a great sign that what I have started is a good thing.  I'm logging all of my meals, good or bad, on the free app My Fitness Pal.  The sugary Mystic Chai Tea is gone and for me that was a biggie.  What can I say, I love the stuff and had at least a cup a day and I may be going through a bit of withdrawal, but I still have my coffee so at least I am not totally biting everybody's head off come tomorrow.  I am planning my lunches for next week at work so that I can eat something besides an apple and peanut butter.  This go around, I am  reading the  tools that My Fitness Pal sends in emails and on the app.  I actually am going to incorporate some of them into my week.  You know sometimes there is something that is just bashert, and today's was one on low impact exercise.  How timely is that with a foot that is behaving badly?

Next up, I have put into my calendar a pop up to tell me to shut off both the t.v and the computer.  I read somewhere last Fall that doing both of these things aids in being able to get to sleep quicker.  What I am going to do in that last hour is to move to my spare room to sit and either knit on a bit of lace or read for the last hour before going to bed.  Yep, the plan is to get to bed by 11 and see if I can at least get six hoursish of good sleep.  It might be hard the first couple of nights because lets face it, I've had the luxury of the last week and half of staying up really late (into the morning) and sleeping past 6 most days and easing into the whole shower/get dressed thing.

Ok, well that is enough of that stuff, as the week goes on, I will blog about some other changes I hope to make in 2016, for now, what's on the needles this week?

I am making a lot of progress on my Quicksilver.  I really have been totally concentrating on it whenever possible.  I am really anxious to be done with it.  I love it, but I am feeling like it is time to move on to something else.

Once, I get Quicksilver done, I'll be working on Mona Lisa's blanket for later this month.  This will be a time cruncher, but like I have blogged before, it will be a great knit for Knit Nights.  The yarn is Cascade Pacific, a great yarn for kids and blankets, although, it seems like the one I knit for Poppy is a bit fuzzier than the others I have knit.

My take to work project is out of Berroco Ultra Alpaca.  The pattern is Chic Knits,  Basic Chic Hoodie.                        
This was started as a KAL over on the Chic Knits Ravelry page, last Fall, but with all the baby knitting and Christmas knitting, I just could not make this one happen.  It is a simple little hoodie that I have made before, but this time I am totally copying the idea from Bonne Marie and leaving the hood off and adding some really cool red buttons.

It is going to be so fun!  I am taking this to work with me because I am bound and determined to take back my lunch hours at work and do some knitting.

And finally on the needles, is my 10-11 project.  I am on the lace section of Labrouste and doing those pesky nupps on the way back. (Hey, this is my first experience with them so I can call them pesky at this point)  I am hoping this does not have an adverse reaction to my thought of calming the body down at night and send me in the other direction :)

That's it for the Sunday installment, have a great week, catch you on the purl side real soon.  Thanks for listening!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

2016 - The Year of the Great Fitting Sweater

I am still quite shocked that there were absolutely no sweaters finished on my list for 2016!  That is most unusual coming from the person that has practically knitted every design in Cheryl Oberle's Knitted Jackets.

I want to chalk it up to a couple of things.  1 - I kept thinking I'd lose a bit of weight and who wants to  put all that time into knitting a sweater and then have it swim on you, 2 - I spent a lot of 2015 knitting for others.  3 - I spent more time trying to figure out what sweater I wanted to knit with what yarn. (I've got so many options in both categories.)  Do I want to knit in one piece, knit it in pieces and sew together,  knit ala EZ or Knitting Pure and Simple?

 Shall it be a design by Amy Herzog, Bonne Marie, Joji Locatelli, Sunday Knits, Anne Hanson?  Should I pull out one that is already on the needles and kill two birds with one stone?

I can hear you out there, just choose one Penny, I'm getting tired just listening to you.

So, that is what I am doing for now.  I am pulling out one of my WIPS and knitting on it.  It is a straight forward knit, easy enough, it gives me a sweater to knit in public, is a nice transitional sweater that can be worn now at a higher weight and will be perfectly okay to wear when a few pounds lighter.  I am going to add waist shaping to it, something Bonne Marie Burns turned me onto many years ago.

Then, while I am knitting on it, I'll start at the beginning and we'll talk sweater knitting for 2016.  Let's make 2016 the year of the great fitting, wearable, classic sweater!  I am excited just thinking about it.

Friday, January 01, 2016