So, long blog silence huh?
I have been gone for a long time! It wasn’t really intentional, but I’ve been in the process of hearing back from the schools I applied to in the fall. I’ve gotten hosts of rejection letters, but that’s okay! I only need one of them to say yes. The waiting and the stress don’t do much for your creativity though. I have been knitting, but in more of a medicinal way rather than having tons of new ideas. I do have a few percolating, but they’re still in the primordial ooze of ideas. When they’re ready to come out into the world, you’ll see them, I promise :P
Now, on to the knitting content! I finished this utterly beautiful sweater for my mother. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but it ended up as a “month and a half after Christmas” gift instead. However, it fits, and it looks beautiful on her. Extra awesomely, she loves it!
Doesn’t it look great? It looks brown from far away, but close up it’s actually purple and green and tan. She wears a lot of brown, so it should be a good wardrobe staple for her. It’s a Wispy cardigan, and the yarn is Madelinetosh Prairie. It only took one skein! Wheeee! It took forever to knit. I don’t know why I didn’t immediately see that a laceweight sweater as a Christmas present was a losing game for sure, but my excuse is that my ability to logic was muddled by all my applications.
Now, on to spinning. I was spinning up some Cormo by Cottage on the Hudson, but it royally ticked me off so you don’t get pictures until my rage has abated. I was so excited to spin it, but the fiber was neppy and felted. SO MUCH HATE. I only had two ounces anyway, and I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time with the infuriating fiber. I figured I’d use it for an experiment since I wasn’t invested in how it turned out. I made a traditional 3 ply instead of the chain ply I normally do, and I have to admit that I liked the way it blended the colors. It was mostly green and red, and it came out looking a bit like a tartan, which can’t be a bad thing. It’s soft too, but I haven’t had this much trouble spinning anything since my very first project. Boo hiss. I have some other cormo in my stash, and the prep on that looks JUST FINE. I hate to give a bad review, but I bought this in person at Rhinebeck, and the lady who sold it to me shouldn’t have let me buy it. They were almost out of stock, but that’s no excuse for selling badly prepared fiber. She also assured me that the pin drafted roving would spin up easily. Whatever (liar.) I’m a pretty okay spinner, and this fiber made me doubt my own skills. It turned out okay, but unevenly, and it was super annoying to spin.
So after that I needed a happy palette cleanser. It was Hobbledehoy to the rescue, with a set of batts in the Starship colorway!!
Glorious, non? The colors are brilliant, and the texture contrasts are divine. It’s mostly merino, with stripes of black and turquoise tussah silk, and little blue sparkles throughout. It was crazy fun to spin. I tore it into strips roughly by color so that it wouldn’t get muddy.
And the final result was amazing.
This is actually about 800 yards total, of a sport weight single ply. It’s a little thick and thin, getting down to a laceweight in some spots, so I’m thinking shawl or scarf. I’m absolutely flabbergasted by the yardage. This was four ounces people! I just have to contemplate what pattern would best show off the color variation-I’m picky about yarns with big color contrasts. Input is always welcome! I’m in love with this, and now I’m already on to my next project!
Yum yum. It’s Hey Lady Hey superfine merino in the Laguna colorway. I linked to her new website, but she’s in the process of moving off etsy to her own digs, so check back later if you want to buy things. It’s soft as a newborn kitten, and a dream to spin! (I stayed up far too late last night working on it, that’s how I know.) See you next time friends!
I’m just popping in to share something exciting with you guys! I just released a new free pattern! Yay!
It’s for a fun and quick slouchy hat, and it’s great for using up those thick-and-thin handspun chunky yarns. The simple textured stitch in the pattern is emphasized by yarns that are slightly uneven. Spinners, if you are trying to figure out how to use up some of those early, lumpy bumpy yarns, I have a solution for you! I’ve had this waiting around forever, but it took me a while to actually write up the pattern. (Despite the fact that it’s super simple) Wanna see?
It uses a smidge under 200 yards of aran or chunky weight yarn, and knits up incredibly quickly. Mine went from start to finish in four hours! It would be a total lifesaver around Christmas, just sayin’.
It all started when I spun up a skein of thick-and-thin yarn from some merino/silk fiber I got from Three Waters Farm. It was soft, fluffy, and looked exactly like delicious cotton candy. I knew it wanted to be something to keep me warm in the winter, and eventually I decided to knit myself a cute hat with a giant pom-pom. (I sorta have a thing for pom-poms.)
The inspiration for this hat comes from one of my favorite shows, Adventure Time! It’s full of quirky and imaginative characters, but my favorite has to be Princess Bubblegum. She’s the princess of the Candy Kingdom, and she’s a strong, intelligent ruler who only occasionally gets a little crazy. Even better, she’s a scientist, constantly concocting important things in her lab. (I’m totally jealous of her lab.) She’s not afraid to be a big nerd, but she still manages to do everything in inimitable style. Add to the mix that she always wears pink, and the hat was destined to be named after her.
This pattern is free on Ravelry, (here’s the link!) and I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I do! This hat is beautifully warm, and you can either wear it as a slouchy hat, or fold the ribbing up so you get a double layer of warmth over your ears as well as a more fitted shape.
So far, all of my designs have been inspired by totally badass ladies real and fictional, and I’m really digging the theme. Wonder how long I’ll keep it up… Maybe forever! <3
This baby has been sitting around waiting for a finished object post for a LONG time. During the fall my life sortof exploded, and while I have been wearing it frequently, finding a person to model or take photos and enough daylight that you could actually see it seemed impossible. However, I forced my little brother to take pictures of me wearing it, so here you go :)
This is Caterpillar Green Yarn’s amazing self-striping shawl yarn. That means no weaving in ends, just perfectly even stripes showing up as you knit your triangular shawl. It’s incredible. I used the Boneyard Shawl pattern (free on Ravelry) placing the purl rows so that they would demarcate the colors perfectly. Not only is the idea remarkably clever, the yarn itself is a lovely treat. It’s merino, cashmere, and nylon, and it’s soft and strong at the same time. I adore it, and it’s fabulously warm too. It’s figured largely in my winter coping strategy this year. These are my three favorite colors, all combined beautifully. The shades are perfectly rich and saturated. It also matches my current favorite nail polish!
I have a problem though. I got to try this as a test knitter, but now I want it in every color. Or Peacock and Warm and Fuzzy at the very least. I’m entranced by this yarn. I must have more! However, it’s been sold out basically forever. I think I may have the Yarn Harlot to blame for that. She knit a shawl out of it, and she’s got a LOT of readers. People have gone bonkers for this yarn, and it is seriously impairing my ability to obtain more! I’m not even a big stripes person, and I’m totally obsessed. I may be stacking the deck against me even further by writing about it here.. Which makes me want to not publish it so I can hoard all the yarn for myself. But I won’t. Because that would be wrong.
I’ll finish up with a shot of how I normally wear it. Bunched up around my neck, filling in that gap at the top of my coat. (also I love how it matches my purple coat.)
So, moral of the story. This stuff is awesome. It’s like crack for knitters. (or potato chips, since I don’t think I can knit just one.) You should go buy some, but, you know. Save a skein or two for me.
And honestly, it doesn’t feel any different from the old one. Maybe colder. Only time will tell.
Hi knitting friends! I’ve been absent from the blog longer than expected, firstly from stealth purposes, and secondly from lack of Internet. I was in Colorado with my family! I ice skated on a frozen pond! I rode a snowmobile! (yes really) I crushed my elbow slipping on ice during family pictures! (there are always casualties.)
I’m considering doing a photo essay where I photograph the bruise every day until it heals, but at the very least, I’m showing you guys. DO NOT scroll down if you are easily grossed out.
This is a full week after the fact, and I have to say, the vivid purple nature of it just isn’t being captured by the photo. I’m pretty proud of it, and a lot prouder that I didn’t cry when I got it or anytime after. It HURT.
What else did I do on my vacay? I took a bunch of selfies with my cousin Charlie:
I also got to cuddle a baby who was wearing a sweater I made him:
He fell asleep on my lap like it was no big deal, and spent the whole time we were together getting passed from person to person, and he was always smiling and cute. He had two 14 year old boys, a 16 year old, and a 22 year old boy all enthralled with his cuteness. That’s one seriously good baby. I had to fight to get possession of him from my cousin Graham. (That’s right buddy, I just outed ya. Your reputation is going to be totally torched now that everyone knows you’re a compulsive baby snuggler.)
And now, what I know all of you care about: The Christmas Knitting.
I totally didn’t finish. I didn’t even come close, actually. With all the work involved in 18 PhD applications, something had to fall by the wayside. I wrapped up two works in progress for my parents, and my two little brothers got gift certificates. (Yes, I am lame) The 14 year old got a gift certificate to his favorite helicopter store (that’s a real thing) and I calligraphied it and folded it up into a cute origami heart so it at least had a bit of a handmade touch (he loved it.) and for my 22 year old brother, he got a gift certificate for a handmade needlepoint wallet with any design he wanted. There’s a company that makes them called Smathers and Branson, but they’re crazy stupid expensive. They look like this:
I could never afford them. However, I have plenty of experience substituting time and a little ingenuity for the money I don’t have. I know how to needlepoint and I have a friend who is a leatherworker. So my brother will be getting a custom version with the De Zavala Texas flag on it. (I’m lucky he wanted such an easy design)
It’ll look like that on the outside, and the inside will be gorgeous leather.
My parents both loved their gifts, despite the unfinished nature of them. I’ll post pictures later, once they’re finished, but when my dad opened his scarf, (the shortest scarf ever) he flipped out. He said “Do you know that this is my favorite color??? It’s Air Force blue!!” So I guess it was a hit. My mom was so excited to start wearing her cardigan/shrug thing, and it’s light enough that she’ll even get use out of it in the summer, since air conditioning in Texas can be a little intense.
Looking at it now, I tried to knit a densely cabled scarf and a laceweight cardigan in less than a month. I’m not surprised that I didn’t finish, but in hindsight, I’m totally shocked that I thought I would.
Spoiler alert: this post is about babies.
Not in the abstract, and not mine, thankfully. That’s something in the future for me, but hopefully wayyyyyy in the future. Grad school hopefully awaits, and the PhD student lifestyle is pretty incompatible with motherhood I think. I know it can be done, but only by legendary creatures as rare as unicorns. We live in awe of their ass-kickery, and wonder how they manage to live without sleep :P
Anyway, so babies. I love them (provided I can give them back to the one who spawned them) and they tend to love me back. I think it’s the hair. They can’t get enough of yanking it. But me being fond of babies as I am, the news that my aunt was making me a new little cousin could only be met with knitting. The funny part is that she has six children, and they thought they were finished, and gave away most of their baby stuff. Lol! I also know that once you’ve had that many kids, they aren’t really met with the same excitement as the first, no crazy baby showers and all that. So I knew what I had to do. I was going to whip up a very traditional, very gender neutral baby layette, and I was going to make it FUZZY. Knit picks to the rescue, with their lovely Bare Hare yarn, 80% merino, 20% angora. Despite the lovely fiber content, it didn’t cost the earth, and the whole shebang only used up three skeins. This means that I got a whole baby set for less than $20. (although, to be perfectly honest, I made my mom buy the yarn :P) All I had to do then was wait for a baby to put it on!
Finally Coulson arrived, (and I have to tell you, I’m going to call him Agent Colson for the rest of his life) but the layette didn’t fit him at first. To be honest, I’m glad it was too big, because babies grow so fast it’s breathtaking, and if you knit something for a tiny person, it would be nice if they could wear it for longer than it took you to knit it! That did mean, however, that we had to wait for pictures. However, the wait is now over! Behold the cuteness!
That cramp you just felt in your side? That was spontaneous ovulation from too much baby cuteness. He’s so cute I can’t stand it. Look at the fuzzy! Look at his fat little face!! I love it so much!!!!!! The best part? He looks so cute in these pictures that they put one on their Christmas card.
Win! I love it when people appreciate my knitting.
P.S. I think in the pictures where he’s not wearing the bonnet, he looks like a tiny mobster, and it fills my heart with joy. I think it’s the chubby cheeks.
So, I may have alluded to the fact that recently I’ve been under rather a lot of stress. I’ve been applying to 18 different graduate school programs, (yes, they are mostly done now, thanks for asking) and that has lead to me needing to either knit a lot or take up chewing gravel as a hobby. (I think we can all agree on which option is the more attractive one.) I’ve done almost no spinning, because when I’m taking breaks, I want my hands and my mind to both be occupied, so I’ve been mostly reading and knitting at the same time.
It turns out that if you’re using knitting medicinally, things get done really really fast! So I have a shawl. (photo credit goes, once again, to my lovely brother Luke.)
Apparently in this one I look “like I see a spaceship.” (according to my little brother) I think the thing on my neck is supposed to be some kind of alien laser in this scenario.
Also my hair “is very inconvenient.” But it’s forgiven because apparently it does good things in the right lighting, and lets Luke “take hipster pictures.” He would periodically stop during the photo shoot and say “Oh yeah, that is SO HIPSTER.” When I told him that I wasn’t sure I liked him making me into a hipster, he just cackled at me. *sigh*
The yarn comes from the Cloudlover yarn club. I won a three month subscription to it as part of a Socks with Sarah giveaway, and I love all three yarns I got. However, this one was my favorite. (I mean, it’s a 50/50 merino/silk blend. What’s not to love?) Usually variegated yarns move me not, but this one I love fierce and unreasonable. I’m not completely sure why, but I think that the colors are beautifully blended and look more speckled than striped. The shawl pattern is Light and Up, (free on Ravelry) and I think it was an ideal match for this yarn. I’ve worn it for a little bit basically every day since I finished it. The tassels are completely charming, and it’s a nice big shawl/scarf out of only one skein of yarn, which is always a win. It’s very cozy, and the silk content means that it will keep me warm even when winter starts to suck the joy out of everything. I remarked to my mom as a joke that it’s all the colors of a proper Ivy League education. In all seriousness though, it’s navy and gold and maroon and forest green and brown and cream, and these are all colors I associate with fancy college. It gives me a little giggle when I wear it. My favorite thing about knitting is that you get to take your stress and turn it into cool stuff.
My next project is also a shawl (anyone sensing a trend?) and it has BEADS. I adore the beads, am charmed by the beads, and can’t get enough of the beads. I. Love. Beads. But you’ll have to wait for pictures of it, since it isn’t anything like done. I should really get going on my Christmas knitting, but beadsssssss…
Until next time lovelies!
I was asked for a shawl closeup, and I’m happy to oblige! Pretty colors, non?
There was a knitter. She probably spent way too much time knitting, but then she picked up spinning too, and it was all over. She started spinning yarn, and as she started to suck less (there was quite the learning curve) the knitter discovered that she could sometimes make the yarn that she wanted to make, rather than just whatever yarn happened when she was done spinning. When that finally started to happen with some regularity, she started trying to spin for particular projects, and it started to actually work! Then, she made this yarn and became completely obsessed with creating a sweater that would show off its lovely gradient nature. She knit a sweater, and even wore it to Rhinebeck, but never did a photo shoot for the sweater, until now…
(I would like to point out that all of these pictures were taken by my 14 year old brother, who is getting to be quite the photographer. He’s smart too. I asked him to TRY to make me pretty, and he said “Making you pretty is going to be easy. It would be hard to make you ugly.” That kid knows what’s up.)
I love this sweater. I don’t think that it could possibly be prettier. I’m so proud of it that I could burst, since the whole crazy thing came out of my own head. It’s flattering and gorgeous, and I want to wear it every day. I think the handspun really gets to be the star of the show, and I love that. I think it would work in a huge number of different color combos and with different types of space-dyed fiber.
My question is this. Would anyone be interested in a pattern for this sweater? I did it top-down and in the round, so I basically knit the yoke and then fit it to my measurements, trying it on as I went. I don’t think I’d do a huge number of sizes, more like a formula so you can get the kind of sweater that you like. Would anyone want that?
I know it’s been all spinning all the time around here, but this post is shockingly brought to you by KNITTING! I won a Cloudlover yarn club as part of the Socks with Sarah knitalong. For all those who have never heard of it, the point of this knitalong is to integrate the knitting of socks more into your life, not necessarily in a big way, but as a reminder that a little bit of knitting here and there really adds up! I used to carry a pair of socks around in my purse, and I should start doing so again. My last purse was too small for it, but my new one has just enough extra space for a sock in progress :) It really takes the edge off of having to wait. (Which I have to do a lot of in my job.)
They are all just lovely. The names of the colorways from left to right are Night Blooms, Tiger Lily, and Apple Picking, and I think that they are all perfect. They’re also all variegated, which I tend to be picky about, but I love them all. The two on the right are superwash merino and nylon, tightly spun and perfect for socks. The one on the left is a loosely spun 50/50 merino/silk. Since socks in that yarn would have holes in a heartbeat, I needed something else. A shawl, I thought, would be the perfect project for such a precious yarn. I wanted to be strong, and only work on Christmas presents, but I hadn’t been knitting much lately at all. Also, I got the yarn about two weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to put it away. It’s been sitting on my bedside table where I can pet it occasionally. It’s so soft, just feeling the silkiness is wonderfully soothing.
So I started a shawl. I was worried about the variegation bothering me, but so far it looks really pretty. I’m making the Light and Up shawl, as I was cruising through the Ravelry projects and it seems to look pretty with variegated yarn. The lace pattern is simple and pretty mindless, so I think it should work with this yarn. It’s also an elongated triangle instead of a right triangle, and I think that will help it stay around my neck. (I normally wear shawls with the point in the front and the ends wrapped around my neck, more like a scarf or a kerchief.) It also has tassels, and I’ve always wanted to make a shawl with tassels.
Here’s the yarn all caked up:
And here’s the beginning of the shawl. I think it’s lovely, despite my prejudice against variegated yarns. I think it looks like a flower.
I think I’d just had it with the deadlines and the pressure and all of that. There’s enough of that in the rest of my life without it also carrying over into my knitting. Now I’m knitting something for no other purpose than to relax, and it is good. Turns out I just needed to up the fiber dosage from merino to merino and silk. What can I say? I just like to be fancy.
Well, just one muggle so far, but I’ll get to that later. I also don’t promise that I won’t carry this yarn around with me and make random strangers look at it. (only my friends will get to touch it.) What’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s because I started in the middle of my story just to be confusing. Back to the beginning.
In my last post, I had left you with a little peek at my next spinning project. (The spinning continues apace because it turns out that it is a magical cure for writer’s block. The reason behind that is, (I think) that I am a very prolific writer. The only thing that can keep me from being able to write is anxiety, and spinning melts anxiety. It’s pretty much a huge win, because I love spinning, and I REALLY love not having writer’s block when I need to write a ton of stuff.) Well, I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun with a project. It was brilliant. Despite the textured bits in the fluff, it wanted to be spun really fine, and it was prepared so nicely that I didn’t get any huge lumps. I got a few small lumps because of sari silk and glittery bits, but they were just charming. So charming. In what seemed like no time at all, I had these singles.
Aren’t they lovely? They’ve got just tons of character, with some bits being shiny from the silk, others fuzzy and matte from the merino, and with adorable little bits and bobs of other things in just for kicks. I was completely entranced by the singles, and I knew I was going to be besotted with the yarn. Did I let my singles rest, as you are supposed to? (No, no I did not. I never do and have yet to be struck by lightning, though some of my plying sessions are complicated by my refusal to delay gratification.) I sat down and plied immediately, and before you knew it, I had this yarn.
I might’ve done a little dance for joy when it was finished. It completely deserved it. What started out as only TWO OUNCES of luxury tribbles from Gourmet Stash became 340 yards of lovely laceweight! That’s some of the finest yarn I’ve ever spun, and I’m thinking it’s going to be a tiny scarfy/kerchief thing. I think I have enough to make a tiny Ishbel, and I think that’s going to be its fate. The lace is simple enough that A) I can actually do it, and B) the texture and whimsy of the yarn won’t be lost, and won’t completely obscure the pattern. (I think.) Here’s a closeup:
You can really see all the different textures here, because the bits with mulberry silk gleam like jewels, and when they’re plied next to the plain merino there’s an interesting contrast. The majority is shades of green, but I actually love the fuschia with it. It’s enchanting.
Greg came over last night, and I went and grabbed the yarn so I could wave it around at him. “Look at it! Look at it!” I said, and shoved it into his hands to admire. He held it with a slightly perplexed look on his face, and I assumed it was because I was being profoundly odd again. (That happens with some frequency, alas.) I asked him why he was confused, and he said “The coloration in this reminds me of something. Maybe an insect?” I was hoping that it was a butterfly or something, but no. Apparently what it reminded him of was a grasshopper. Now that he said that, I can kindof see it, although we don’t have really bright and colorful grasshoppers up here in Massachusetts like we do down south. I still refuse to refer to it as the grasshopper yarn though.
As a side note about Greg, I always find it endearing that he tries to be respectful and appreciative of my knitting and spinning hobbies, despite the fact that he doesn’t really understand the appeal. (He’s not in general a very anxious person, that might be why.) He listens to me yammer on about things constantly, and sometimes I’m surprised by how much he picks up. I think the reason is that he’s got a passion for improving things, and whenever I make him something I do a lot of little customizations to make them perfect. So the last scarf I made him has silk content for extra warmth, is woolen spun for plushness and to trap more air in the fibers, and knit in a textured pattern so it’s thicker. And he could probably tell you all those things because he would want you to know why his scarf is better than yours. (I really need to blog that scarf..) He’s cute and I like him.
I was going to say “big wheels” but my wheel is seriously tiny. It’s part of why I love it. The thing is super cute and doesn’t take up much space.
This is just a quick post to let you know that spinning continues apace! I finished the soft and yummy polwarth, which was so lovely and perfect that it practically spun itself! While spinning natural-colored fibers can get a little wearing, it was a pleasure from start to finish. It turned into about 350 yards of springy, smooshy goodness, and it pleases my greatly because the yardage on the last two skeins I spun is almost EXACTLY the same. How’s that for consistency?? It’s also just sooooo soft. I can’t seem to stop rubbing it on my face.
It’s also just really, really beautiful. I love the texture of handspun. I love how there are slight variations within the skein, how it isn’t precisely perfect. I know that some people are trying to create the most perfect handspun possible, and I respect that. Pursuing your art in the highest form is always a laudable thing. However, for me personally, I like the slight unevenness that means it was made by human hands and not a machine. I like that the knitted fabric will look just the slightest bit pebbly because there are spots where the yarn gets thicker.
I also love that this yarn matches the last one I spun as exactly as is possible for me right now. Check them out together!
They’re going to be a really awesome hat/mitten set. They already look like they belong together. Right now they’re sitting on my coffee table, and every once in a while I reach over and smoosh them because they are just too pretty. Yay for having yarn pets.
And, because the unmitigated white got a little soul-crushing after a while, my next spinning project is almost as different as it could possibly be.
Oh yes. These little puffs are luxury fiber tribbles from Gourmet Stash, and they are going to be about a million yards of laceweight. They’re just the slightest bit textured, enough that this yarn is going to have tons of visual interest when it’s done. There’s yak, silk, superfine merino, snips of sari silk and just the teeniest hint of sparkle. I’m smitten. I can’t wait for the yarn to come into being, so I can commence petting and snuggling it.
Can I also just mention how awesome spinning and blogging are? Spinning helps me chill out when applications start to feel like too much, and blogging gets my creative writing juices flowing. It’s just a nice little reminder that I’m not actually a completely crap writer, and that things are going to be okay. They’re both worth their weight in gold as far as calmness and confidence are concerned.