Different kinds of crafting

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and new year, filled with time with friends, family, and food, lots of it. Hopefully you got all of your holiday knitting done well in advance, or at the very least not right up to the deadline. This year I didn’t make anything for gifts, which may come to some as a surprise. If I had known that I wouldn’t have a lot of time to knit, or not enough energy to, I could have planned ahead. I could have months ago made a few things for gifts. But alas that’s not how things went. I did make a sweater, if you haven’t seen that post, you should. I even modeled the sweater (I still need to reblock it to get it to the correct size) which I forgot how uncomfortable being in front of the camera makes me. Even when I’m the photographer taking my own photo (WiFi on cameras these days help out a bit). But I did get photos, which I know it’s one of my pitfalls when making something.

You must be wondering what I am working on now that a sweater is off the needles, well I can’t tell you. Not that I don’t want to, but it’s a design, another one that is part of a series. I am hoping to get this one done really quickly so I can get pictures of it next month when I am on vacation and maybe bring another design with me so I can get photos of that too. But I digress, I have been working diligently on it, making good progress, which makes me hopeful. I am hopeful that it will be done and not be too plain. Until then I have been working on my next pair of vanilla is the new black socks, quite a surprise I know. They’re still the Halloween colors that I started a few months ago, but I’m traveling down the leg of the second sock at least.

I have picked up a new hobby, which this would be the final one. I don’t have enough time or space to get anymore. I picked up sewing, which I had my reason to justify it. I wanted to learn to make my own clothes because most of mine need to be altered anyways. So why not make clothes that actually fit me well. Also, I want to make my own fitted suit as the goal to work towards. That was the plan anyways, but then I saw some bags and I knew I needed to make those too. So I started with a standard first pattern, an easy tote bag. I purchased a craftsy class or two to get going. By the way, I forgot what it was like walking into a craft store and be overwhelmed. When I got the fabric to make the tote I had that feeling. I spent an hour just walking around in a daze, finally picking up some fabric for the tote and some more for something eventually (that stash habit is coming over).

So I sewed that tote in no time, pretty easy with just darts for shaping and a pocket. Then I bough more fabric for my second and third projects. The second was supposed to be a dress for my mom out of an easy pattern, but I did that third. The second was a fully lined duffel with zippers and snaps and things that a beginner should be daunted by. But it wasn’t that hard to be honest, a few fiddley parts but not bad at all. I made the inside pocket flaps, a zippered pocket, then made the outside pockets, flaps, outside walls, attached them all with a main zipper, side panels and before I knew it I had a duffel. One that I had selected everything for, cut out the pieces, interfaced a lot of it, and put together myself. I used it last weekend and it was perfect for weekend jaunts up to see my partner.

Is it 100% perfect? No way, but for my second sewing project ever it was impressive to my parents who both quilt and my mom sews a little bit. I’ll take pictures of it soon, but I am tempted to make another.

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We’ve got sweater

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I think we all can agree that we have had those moments in our knitting/crafting lives where we have to be proud. Not only we are proud, but we want everyone to know what we have accomplished. “It’s not just that I made a sweater, but I turned this yarn which wasn’t the right size, which meant I had to do math and then resize the actual numbers to still be the right lengths.” When we say things like this, the muggles look at us funny and the always say, “oh wow.” Do they all just know to say that or is it just the first thing that comes to mind. Though I think those who actually see you working on a garment more then once are quite impressed. It’s like, yes that thing you saw me working on for the last 4 months is finally done. You might be filling that I’m talking about the sweater I’ve been working on. It’s finally done, though I need to be more aggressive with blocking, it’s a wee bit too small.

I think I’m going to swatch for the next sweater as I’m working on the end of the current one. Since I had to scramble to get the next sweater ready, I don’t want to do that again. I’m working on the next design and preparing the next sweater which will be brioche I think.

Almost warm

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It is true that sometimes life is so dull that you have nothing to talk about and sometimes you’re so busy you’re running around like a mad man. For me I have been doin the later, getting the final preparation ready for a vacation early next year, working a metric but ton (yes that’s a real measurement), and trying to get things generally done around here. During thanksgiving I did have some time off, so I was able to go to my LYS and sit around the table and knit. Things have changed while I was away, with a new owner comes new ideas, which I say so far are good ones. But while I was there I had to look at the yarn, even though I have said it a few times that I don’t need more. Which I don’t, but I could still look and pet (thinking of my stash, which I am going to be going through and finding new homes for some of it). But what got me wasn’t any yarn, not right away, it was a photo of a man with a pea coat wearing this simple, long scarf. When I saw it i had visions of me running to work in a similar (but maybe a grey instead of tan) peacoat with that scarf around my neck. I kept thinking to myself that it was silly for me to get that since I am taking a break from scarves and digging into sweaters again. For some reason I kept going back to that image and finally caved and looked at the yarn needed to make it. Turns out that made me want it more, it is 100% cashmere. I’m usually not the biggest fan of cashmere, I mean I like it, but I like merino wool too and it’s more economical. But this was a scarf, so a scarf quantity of cashmere is more economical then a sweater quantity of cashmere. I think that was me starting to justify this purchase.

I looked at the pattern and yarn, thinking about if I really wanted to do this. The answer was yes, but the knitting was going to be long and very autopilot. I have my vanilla is the new black socks for that (which I am almost done with the first Halloween sock, finally) so I didn’t want to knit it myself. Then I remembered I have a flatbed knitting machine that could handle this yarn. And then I remembered I bought the ribber attachment for it and this scarf would knit up in no time. So I bought the yarn and wound it right away. I spent a few hours a day or two later on the machine.

It took maybe 6 hours to knit a scarf in a broken rib that is way taller then I am. It would have been much quicker if every 8 rows I didn’t have to move stitches from the ribber to the main bed of needles and then back after that row. But all it needs is just the rest of the ends woven in, which I’m breaking the yarn into its smaller yarn plies, and then a good wash and block. Hopefully soon though, since it is chilly in the morning here.

What about the sweater you ask? I’ll save that saga for next time.

The bane of sweaters

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Why do I like to knit sweaters so much, I mean there are plenty of other things I could be knitting. I could be just having hats and socks fall off my needles, have a new scarf to wear every two to four weeks or so, or even a full afghan to keep me warm in the morning. No for some reason I am on a huge sweater kick right now and really it’s just a single sweater. I mean I am planning on knitting some other sweaters right after this one, in a bit of a thicker yarn like worsted at least. But still I want to make all kinds of sweaters and you know what one of, if not my least part of making a sweater is, sleeves. That’s right sleeves are one of the things I don’t like doing, not that they’re difficult to make.  Sleeves are usually really easy to make, generally with a small amount of patterning or maybe plain.  When they do have a lot of patterning, they don’t have as many stitches as the body so they can go quicker.  That’s not my problem with them, I think my problem with them stems from a few things.

  1.  You need two of them, which means doing the same thing more then once.  Its kind of like second sock syndrome, which I don’t usually have, but sometimes you just don’t want to make the second sleeve.  Even though you know all you have to do is sit there for a few days and get a sleeve done, you just don’t want to do it.  Eventually you might make the second sleeve and get that sweater completed.  But maybe it will sit there for years without it’s second sleeve.  Or maybe you’ll just wear it as a fashion statement, that you can’t be bothered to have both arms warm at the same time.
  2. They’re not very interesting to me.  I mean right now especially they’re just plain stockinette, which is nice when brain power is limited.  Sometimes that is nice when you want to watch a movie or read a book at the same time (if you’re crazy like I am and can do that).  Otherwise they’re just these little, long bits of knitting that are not very interesting.
  3. They can defiantly seem like a black hole.  You get past the increases and your pattern tells you to knit until a certain length to the underarm, or whatever will fit you/the recipient.  Sometimes you keep knitting and knitting, seeing your yarn supply attached get smaller and smaller.  But when you got to measure you haven’t gained length since the last time a few hours ago.  You then have to curse and wonder how are you going to escape this blackhole.
  4. After they’re done, you are not really done.  If you knit your sleeves flat, they need to be seamed and sometimes they need to be sewn into the body.  I can’t count how many times I have ripped out a sleeve that I just sewed in because it looked like my arm went a strange direction. I don’t mind sewing things together, like body pieces or even the sleeves sometimes.  Those seams are easy, but a snapped cap is not easy sometimes to sew in.

Does this mean I am not going to finish these sleeves as fast as possible?  No it just means I am not going to enjoy making them right now.  I want to wear this sweater already and get something else on the needles.

That kind of weather

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As I may or may not have pointed out here a few times that I live in California (and not the part that is on fire right now, still) and we get “weather” here. I mean don’t get me wrong, we do have nice warm summers and chilly winters. We do know what rain is, you would not guess it based on the way that we act when we see it (as a friend of mine stated it we start to freak out and say “it’s water from the sky”). But now we are in November and the mornings are in the mid to low 40s, which is chilly for us. In some parts of California, when it goes below 64 people dress like they’re in the arctic (I’m not kidding, I’ve seen it first hand). With that in mind, in the 40s is quite chilly for us and for me, since I’m used to this kind of weather (though I do like cooler weather). I’ve been trying to bring out my knit wear more and more, with a little sweater sized problem. I want to be wearing sweaters but all of my sweaters are for a 44″ finished measurement and I need a 40″ now. I have a feeling some of you are reading that and saying “stop complaining, I want that problem” but it just is what it. Yes that one sweater that needs the repair still needs it to be done. Yes I know that it won’t take more then a few minutes to complete the repair, but as I also may have mentioned, I don’t have that much time sometimes.

I’m frantically trying to squeeze any last brain filled, potential knitting time with just that, knitting time. Granted I do have the occasional I need to decompress, or remove the smoke from my lungs (it’s not as bad as it sounds here, but I am sensitive to bad air quality) with something that is not knitting but video game related. But once that’s done, the knitting comes out and then it’s time to sleep. I am just about to split the front for the neck on the Sandy Neck pullover and I can’t wait. Though I realize I still need to make those sleeves, but at least it will be less stitches then a front or back. Let’s hope I don’t have to play yarn chicken with this, hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself with the knitting fates.

I could just look at those cables forever, they are just so pretty (and yes I mean pretty, they’re handsome too, but they’re pretty too). The yarn is just so great and I think lol of it was a great choice, except for the small needles and finer gauge while I’m knitting on it. At least the socks are coming along too, I can finally start the toe in a round or two. While getting to that point I amazed some of my coworkers while I knit and read on a break. They were just dumbfounded that I could do that and not have to look while doing it. I think the muggles hadn’t seen me actually knit in front of them before, but knew I was a knitter.

With this weather I think of warm houses and baked goods to share. In the last post I mentioned I am a fan of baking and I purchased a new book recently. Another French baking book, but in my defense this one isn’t just about Macarons (even though there’s a handful of pages about them, I mean come on, it’s a French baking book). I’m already devising all kinds of things I am going to make to fill people with warm pastries and butter, lots of butter. But isn’t that what this time of year is about? Sitting with people you care about, good conversation, good wine (or insert beverage of choice), and some butter filled pastry that just makes your heart sing. That sounds like what I want to do in the coming weeks, as time permits. I’ll have to be back in the kitchen soon to make a few things. I’ll post more pictures as they come.

Yet again I am trying to simplify and streamline my workflow here so I can get these to you on a more timely schedule. Hopefully the picture are up to their normal quality (at least I think they have a sort of quality to them), if not please let me know.

Too concentrated

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I have not been as good about posting on here, I know, and I always say that I will do better and things just don’t happen that way.  I think I am finally realizing why this is, content and concentrated.  I am concentrating on some other things in my life, moving out for the first time, finishing my PMI certification, and a few other things, to name a few.  A lot of my concentration is going to this and so when I think of something that needs to be done, I look at those other things first, instead of getting a post ready.  The content portion is due to the limited amount of time I have to actually knit.  I have this strange notion that if I don’t have any knitting to talk about I don’t have anything worth reading.  This strange notion tells me that if there’s nothing about crafts and no decently nice pictures, then there isn’t anything for me to talk about.  Even though a lot of other things may be happening in my life, I just feel that I shouldn’t talk about them here.  Then I realized, knitting is part of my life and the story that happens behind the knitting may just be the kinds of things I should also be talking about.  I mean there are other famous knitting bloggers that do this, when they talk about their life with no knitting content, it completes their story.  So I have decided that I will be doing this from now on, talking  more about my life, interspersed throughout the knitting content.  And that I will add more photos from other things as well as the knitting related content.

Just so everyone knows, I am not near the fire that is going on right now.  That is about 2 hours north of where I am at the moment, probably a bit further to be honest.  I am in the effects of the fire, the entire bay area has bad air quality right now, so it means staying inside more.  I know there is a dyer up in that area that lost everything and that is heart breaking.  Her entire studio gone in the blaze and fleeing her life there.  I saw this news on Instagram, where someone was showing they were raising funds to help her and her family get through this situation.  I am always touched by the generosity and kindness of knitters.  I know this person and their family were grateful for the help from the community, I would be if I was in that situation.  At this time that fire is 25% contained and is still doing damage.  Let us all hope that no one else has to flee and loose everything like so many already have.

On a lighter note I am working on the sweater still, getting ready to do the neck and shoulder shaping.  I don’t have much more then that and some progression on the vanilla is the new black socks, just passed the heel turn.  Something that you may not know about me is that I like to bake, like a lot.  I didn’t bake for a long time because of me doing it too much when I was young.  After the car accident I started to get the desire to bake again, probably because of all of the baking shows that I was watching.   I had to wait a little bit before I could bake, sine I was recovering, but after that I did a little bit.  I made some cake here or there, but nothing too crazy.  Then I got a crazy idea to make something that is a little challenging to make, Macarons.  So I did my research, learned the tips and tricks to make the perfect batter and waited for the opportunity to make them.  When I had the house to myself for a bit a little while ago, I decided it was time to make macarons.  If they didn’t turn out then only I would know they were a disaster.  But I made one batch and brought those in for my coworkers, who loved them.  Then I made two more batches, able to go through the process with ease.  The second batch was phenomenal, better then the last, the third batch however did not turn out (something about me and lemons with baking don’t get along).  Because of my being out from the accident, someone I knew at worked helped keep some of my stuff going, so I owed them.  And they’re French, so I figured a nice way to thank them again, would be Macarons.  So i got the bit of ingredients that I needed and went to town.

I made 180 shells or 90 total cookies and they’re delicious (I eat a shell that is broken or exploded to make sure they’re ok).  I decided for a dark chocolate ganache with a shell made with dutch processed cocoa powder.  I’m going to save the ones for my coworker and then the rest will go to my coworkers tomorrow.  I think I might do baking for gifts instead of knitting this year.  I have a few different recipes that I want to try and I think doing gift boxes of macarons could be fun.  I guess we will see, back to the front of that sweater I need to finish.

Not the normal

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Before you ask, yes I am still working on the sweater. It’s going well actually, I am just past the underarm bind off and traveling up the front of the chest. Hopefully I’ll get this piece done in the next week or so, but I’m hoping for this weekend so I can power through the sleeves. Since they’re plain I think it’ll go quickly and while I work on those I can wash and block the semi pieced body. Then it’s more blocking, ends, the neck, and I can finally wear it, just in time too. Fall is in full swing here, well sort of. It is still low 70s during the day, but in the morning it’s cool and the days are getting cooler so I can wear a nice wool sweater.

I have been wearing a scarf in the morning if I remember to bring one. Or if I decide to be a little fancy and wear my leather jacket in the morning. But generally not much more, most of my sweaters are too big now and the one I want to wear I keep forgetting to do the fix on the ribbing.

I did buy some yarn that I normally would not have purchased. Before you jump me and take me to a nut house, it’s not acrylic. Put down your pitchforks and straight jackets, it’s wool and nylon. I kept hearing about this yarn when I listened to a podcast, one of the podcasters in this duo knits a bit with this yarn. She says she likes it and so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it. I forgot a friend of mine gave me two balls of it but I ordered two more sets so I could try at least one and have my mom try one.

I’m hoping they work out because I might have found the yarn for machine knit socks to sell and help charity too. Only time will tell for that.

Back to the sweater, I need a new sweater and a project off the needles. I’ll fantasize about the next thing I’ll knit.

Bad at this

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I know I have been gone a while and instead of boring you with the same working a lot and forgetting lets just get back to the knitting.  I have been working as diligently as I can on the Sandy Neck pullover, even though I am so ready for it to be done.  I am enjoying the knitting, it’s interesting, the yarn is lovely, and overall I will be very happy with it when it is done.  The problem is the decision I made to go from a worsted weight yarn to a sport weight.  Don’t get me wrong, the change will be very nice and allow me to wear this sweater for longer, especially with the California cold we get here (which is not that cold at all for some).  It is just taking a while and match that with limited knitting time, it’s going to take a while.  I keep looking at other sweaters on Ravelry, longingly wanting to cast them on.  But I keep pushing forward, but the thought of a nice worsted Brioche sweater keeps jumping into my head.

On an un-related note, I was trying to find a sweater that I knew needed a repair for some strange reason.  I wore it maybe once to discover that the sweater had a break in the ribbing, which was near the bind off.  So I could just rip back and repair or just do some surgery and get fixed really easily.  I decided to do the second option, but I couldn’t remember where I put it.  I knew that the yarn was in the Madelinetosh scrap bin and yes I have a bin dedicated to Madelinetosh scrap (which made me want to start the bee keeper quilt, but I digress).  So I went into the knitwear storage bin, the largest of them, which meant removing the sweater quantity bin from above it.  So I saw yarn I forgot I had and all in sweater quantity.  I think I know where I am going to pull yarn from when I start the next sweater.  But now that the sweater has been liberated (I put it somewhere else safe, somewhere I was sure I would remember it) I can now do the repair.  Again that time aspect plays into effect.  I just need to use some of my knitting time in the morning and do some repair time so I can wear it.  The mornings have been quite chilly here and I like wearing something warmer in the morning.  And yes it’s California cold and not like other places cold.  At least the front is going fairly well, I should be ready to bind off the underarms in the next 2 weeks or so maybe.  Maybe I’ll have a sweater by the end of the year (I actually wrote yarn, that makes sense too actually surprisingly).

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But look how nice the front is coming on my sweater.  I need to take a vacation to knit like crazy, maybe I will.  Next time I will tell you about some yarn I picked up, for knitting science.  Do not worry, it’s still wool.

Falling Down

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Recently I have been not knitting that much, maybe 30 minutes a day, sometimes none at all.  Life has gotten quite busy for me again, so unfortunately knitting has taken a quick break sometimes, even though I wish it didn’t.  It is a great way to relax in the morning before going to work, doing chores that need to be done, or what not.  Especially with a cup of coffee or two if I have the time, sometimes I just make the second cup at work.  I have made some decent progress on the sweater I have been working on, which is the Sandy Neck Pullover.  This pattern called for worsted weight, but I found a great color in a sport weight, so with some quick math I bought the yarn for my birthday.  I have been making slow progress, but still progress on it.  I am just about to reach the shoulders on the back.  I forgot how long this would take me, if I had done worsted weight, it would have gone much faster and I would probably be almost done with the body.  With that said I think that the change to a finer weight yarn was a good idea, since it does not get that cold here and it will be more wearable for me.  The yarn I chose is Swans Island Washable Wool Collection Sport in the Dove color.  It’s a nice grey white and still shows off the cabling quite nicely.  Of course I have made some mistakes on the cables as I am usually not up to my normal brain power when I am waking up.  I did a set of twists on the side cables the wrong direction, repeated the center pattern an extra set in a specific spot, and purled when I should have knit a few rows down.  I made all of the corrections and it is looking nice.

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Maybe I’ll have this done just in time for summer next year at this rate.  Hopefully not, I really want to wear this in the next few months.  Though I have a lot of different sweater quantities of yarn that are calling to me too.  I saw a lot of it in the beginning of this week, I went through a lot of the stash, getting rid of scraps I no longer needed, and some stuff that I just couldn’t use and no one else could.  But then a package arrived last week, I knew it was coming but I forgot what all of it was.  I had my first bit of yarn amnesia, I knew it was yarn, just didn’t remember how much or what colors I ordered.  I mean it did take about 3-4 weeks to arrive since it was being shipped from New Zealand, but I should have remembered.  When I opened the package I started to remember what I ordered, 5 skeins of Stray Cat Yarns in a variety of colors.  I remember wanting to get more self stripping sock yarn from them, but they were closed when I looked.  So I signed up to know when they would be back and looked at other yarn but decided against it.  Then I got the notification and purchased these beauties.  The five colors I purchased were, Electric Avenue, Brass Tacks, Rescue Cat, Silver Star, and Aotearoa and they are even nicer in person.

 

My parents also just came back from a trip from Washington. They said it was a great trip, lots of beautiful scenery.  They did visit an Alpaca farm and they both said they were cute, which we knitters knew that.  But they decided to pick something up for me while they were there.  The first was a nice skein of 2 ply handspun alpaca, which was spun by one of the owners.  My mom was talking with her about me and my wheels, she asked her what I had but she didn’t know.  But I also got a nice bit of blended alpaca roving.  I might spin that up in the future and will weave something out of it.  Not sure yet, but it is nice.  In the mean time I need to finish what I am spinning on both wheels. The Lendrum is going away I think, I just don’t us it anymore.  Time to get back to knitting and spinning.

 

So little time

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I have been MIA for a little bit and there is a good reason for that.  Mainly I went back to work after the accident, which took longer because of some paperwork (not my fault, but still).  Now that I am back and at my normal amount of work, my time has been limited.  I have to do a lot of things I need to do and not a lot of time to do it.  I need to do a lot of cleaning, cooking, and care of the house, which all takes away from knitting.  I have not touched the socks in a little bit, I have not needed a simple pair of socks to work on.  Yes they are good for auto pilot knitting, but I have not been that out of it.  Usually my time is spent on another project.  The sweater I think I mentioned last time, is going well.  Adapting a sport weight for a worsted weight is making it go slower of course, but also making it more wearable for me.  I will need to do some checking once I reach the underarm to make sure it will fit just right.  Just the nature of adapting patterns for different gauge yarns.

 

This is just a quick update, I will have some photos and more knitting/spinning talk later.