Yarn Chicken

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As I was approaching the end of the back of my sweater, I started eying the yarn ball & felt a little wave of panic. There’s no real reason to panic. I have 3 additional big wheels in my stash, so there will be no shortage of yarn. Like many knitters, weaving in ends isn’t my favorite activity. Fortunately, as I finished the shoulder shaping, this small tangle of yarn was all that was left of my big wheel.

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The sweater back is ready for blocking in all it’s rumpled glory. The stockinette sides are curling and the cables clearly need to relax a bit. I did add a bit of neck shaping. I like the back of the neck to be lowered by an inch. It feels better that way. The front has been started. At the moment, it looks like the back only much shorter.

Lynn asked a couple of questions on my last post, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Her first question is “why is the nylon necessary?” I can’t speak for the dyer, and to be perfectly honest it was the color that attracted me to this yarn. Still, a bit of nylon can add strength to the yarn. The base is 90% Superwash Merino & 10% Nylon. Merino isn’t the strongest of yarns, and the superwash process can further weaken it. Just a little bit of nylon can add years to the life of the finished object.

Her second question is “Is that still #59?” in reference to the cable. It is #59; however, I made a slight modification to it to create a repeat within the cable pattern. If you have Annie’s book, you can probably work out where I made the change.

Posted in Knitting, sweater Tagged with:

Easy vs. Rough

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First, let me start this post by thanking everyone for their generous and supportive comments on my hiatus announcement. I’m so grateful for the understanding expressed by everyone. I’m also extremely grateful to Sue and Cindy who volunteered to take on ravelry moderator duties, so if you enjoy chatting in ravelry forums or participating in KALs, my little group won’t just reply with the sound of crickets chirping. For myself, I’m feeling much better and have begun the process of dealing with the fallout of 10 months of health issues.

I am knitting as evidenced from the picture above. A couple of swatches recently came off the needles. The yarn is Hazel Knits Lively DK in the Blue Jay colorway. It’s no secret that I love Hazel Knits, and Wendee had a trunk show at fibrespace back in May. The temptation was too much, and 4 Big Wheels of the yarn found their way into my stash. Each pre-wound ball contains approximately 825 yards, which means 4 of them should be more than enough for a sweater. The Big Wheels have the added bonus of causing Ike & Tina Turner’s version of Proud Mary to ring through my head. While working these swatches, I kept thinking about leaving a big job in the city and rolling on the river. 🙂

Any reasonable person would probably ask why I’m making cable swatches in August. The weather is hot and humid, and the idea of wool sweaters seems odd. I simply say that this is all Susie’s fault. Too much time has passed since we last saw each other. We briefly chatted about me possible visiting in October. I’m no fool. The weekend she suggested happens to be the same weekend as Rhinebeck, so I know what she’s plotting. The plans are not final (I know Susie, you want me to definitively say that I’m coming), but the possibility exists. I’ve never been to Rhinebeck, but I understand there is a tradition of a Rhinebeck sweater. Since I believe in honoring traditions, and I also like to be prepared, I’m creating cable swatches, and I’m about to cast on for a sweater in August.

When it comes to making sweaters, I rarely follow a pattern. I have a not small collection of stitch dictionaries, which cry out to be used for some special purpose. After spending a bit of time getting lost in the dictionaries, I settled on Number 59 from Annie Maloney’s The Cable Knitting Handbook.

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If you’re not familiar with Annie, she is an independent designer who has self published a handful of stitch dictionaries. I’m partial to her cables, but she’s done quite a bit of work with lace as well. Her stitches are interesting and original. I know she has a group somewhere on ravelry. I’m not certain where her dictionaries are available now that Unicorn has closed, but I’m sure they can be found if you are motivated to look.

I rather liked the swatch when it was finished, and I was wondering what it might look like if modified to make a repeating cable pattern. This is more proof that I can’t just let things be. I have to take a perfectly good cable, and tweak it. I’m sick, and just can’t help myself.

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Fortunately, this proved to be an easy modification. The cables join in two places on the chart, and I’m pleased with the result. There are two mistakes in this swatch, which disappoints me, but mistakes don’t count on a gauge swatch. The larger swatch yields a slightly looser stitch count, which fascinates me. The cables in the multiple version appear to pull against each other in such a way that the resulting fabric has few stitches per inch. I’m happy with the result, so no need to adjust needle size.

For those of you who dislike making swatches, these swatches illustrate their importance. I wouldn’t have predicted this behavior, nor would I have predicted how much the yarn relaxed after it’s bath. I knew it would relax, but I thought I would need to increase the needle size since the swatch was so scrunched when it came of the needles. Now, I know that isn’t necessary.

Now that the swatches are done, I need to do some math. Fortunately, I enjoy math (another sickness), and spreadsheets produce miracles. 🙂

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Posted in Knitting, sweater Tagged with:

Hiatus

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I’ve been avoiding writing this because, frankly, I’ve been in denial. It’s time I faced up to it and made this official. I am on a knitwear design hiatus.

The fact of the matter is for the last 10 months, I have been trading one set of stress related health issues for another. I’ve shared the issues pertaining to my back. Unfortunately, there have been some other things going on as well.

Over the course of the last eighteen months, I’ve simply taken on more than I can handle. My body has been punishing me for it. For the sake of my own health, I need to reign things in. Knitwear design isn’t the only thing that I’m placing on hold, but it is the thing that is pertinent here, and it’s the thing I’ve been struggling to find a way to keep going. Reality needs to factor in, and I need to take a break.

So what does this mean? For starters, I’m not quitting. I’m simply taking an extended leave. I don’t know how long this will last, but it will probably become obvious when I’m back on duty.

I have a couple of design commitments that I will honor (or at least try to – one of these is currently at extreme risk because the yarn support has not arrived).

I will continue to knit. In fact, my head is filled with ideas for new things. I simply won’t take on the effort to get the new things published for a while. If designing just meant creating something cool and pretty, it would be easy; however, designing, or rather publishing, means taking photographs, coordinating editing and testing, and working out the layout. I suspect that there are things missing from that list, but suffice it to say, those things all take time.

My blogging activity will continue to be sporadic. I’ll probably post when I’ve finished something new and shiny because like many people, I like to show off too.

The vlog will continue to remain on hold. Editing a 5 minute video takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, and I need that time for other things.

I won’t send out another newsletter until I’m back to publishing things. You are free to sign up, but don’t expect to receive anything in your inbox for a while.

At the end of this month, the quarterly KAL that I’ve been running on ravelry will be placed on hold. If someone would like to volunteer to moderate, this may change; however, I will not be taking on the coordination tasks.

I will continue to be active on twitter. Fair warning, most of my tweets of late have more to do with cats and knitting. The one caveat to this is that I may take a break from twitter if the world continues to spiral into chaos. Every horrific news story seems to spawn a bunch of tweets that aren’t good for my psyche.

I will continue to offer pattern support for any currently published pattern. I actually enjoy answering questions and helping people work things out. Besides, I generally don’t receive a bunch of support requests. Additionally, my current portfolio of patterns will continue to be available.

If I’ve missed anything, assume that it is on hold.

I must say that I greatly appreciate this virtual community. I’ve been avoiding acknowledging this reality because I really like you guys. As I said, I just need to slow down for a while and sort some things out.

All that said, please know that I am mostly fine. Once I’ve slowed down a bit and gotten things sorted, I will be completely find, maybe even better than fine.

I leave you with a picture of me and a cat. Enjoy.

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Posted in Knitting Tagged with:

Signs of Life

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It may be obvious to some of you that I’ve been on a bit of an internet hiatus lately. It’s been more than a month since I wrote a blog post, more than that since I’ve pulled out the camcorder for a vlog. My ravelry group is languishing a bit.

Sadly, my visit to Maryland Sheep and Wool made me painfully aware that my back had not recovered from the visit from our dear friend Jonas in January. It became obvious that my strategy of ignore it and it will go away wasn’t working (I am my father’s child). In mid-May, I realized that I reached the point where I had to pace myself at sitting. Thus began what I refer to as the trifecta of torture. After several visits to the chiropractor, massage therapist, and physical therapist, I can now sit upright for several hours without wincing. (Side note – at my first chiropractor appointment, he said “I can’t believe you’re standing upright”). It seems that my spine and my right hip are currently colluding to torture me. I am happy to say that I’ve reached the point where I can visit the massage therapist and the chiropractor without screaming (the physical therapist is another story – that dude is just plain evil). I am not out of the woods yet, but I am much improved.

There has been knitting. Most of it is something that I can’t talk about. I can show you the above sock. Colorwork, once you get the hang of it, is just stockinette, so there’s no grappling with cable needles or squinting at charts trying to figure out which way a decrease is leaning. I’m quite pleased with these; although, I think the gusset needs to change (sometimes it just never seems quite right). Of course, this project is taking a time out while I rush to finish something that has a deadline.

Blog posts will continue to be a bit sporadic. I’ll let you know when there is something new and shiny for you to add to your ravelry queue. In the mean time, I’m going to work on nominating the person who invented heating pads for sainthood.

Posted in Knitting, sock Tagged with:

Remember These?

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Yes, I know, it’s been a few weeks since I blogged. It’s been even longer since I’ve vlogged. I am knitting. I’m just knitting things that I can’t exactly talk about right now. There are a few things that I can write about, which is probably why I’m writing this post (OK, I’ve been on too many conference calls today). Today’s post is about the most recent happening because some of you asked about it.

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You may remember these socks. I’m happy to announce that the Bare Naked Wools Ensemble: Spring 2016 went live on ravelry last night, and said Ensemble includes the pattern for Arques.

Arques is a river in France. You may be wondering what does a French river have to do with a lacy, textured pair of socks. Well, rivers meander. The lace meanders. There you go. It’s also a name that’s never been used for a pattern before, so bonus points for originality (maybe).

The entire Ensemble had a soft launch at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend. If you happened upon knitspot’s booth and were able to take your eyes away from all the really nice lace tops and the yarn, glorious yarn, you may have seen these actual socks in the flesh (or in the wool, I suppose). They had two samples. The one pictured above in the Breakfast Fingering, and another in the Ginny Sport.

Given that these socks work in both a fingering and a sport weight, there are 8 sizes in the pattern (it didn’t start that way, but when you throw another yarn weight into the mix, that’s what happens). These are top down, and have the usual heel flap and gusset.

It’s actually a thrill to be included in the Ensemble. My name is included with Bristol Ivy, Andrea Rangel, Janelle Martin, General Hogbuffer, and Anne Hanson. I’m still not entirely sure how that happened. You can read all about the Ensemble and see the various pieces on Anne’s blog.

Since the socks are part of the Ensemble, you can get the pattern either on ravelry or on the knitspot site. They may even be doing kits with their yarns if that is your thing. Having made the sample using the Better Breakfast Fingering, I have to say it’s a really nice yarn to work with and it has a very generous yardage.

If you check out the ravelry page, you may notice what I’ve been told are “really cool boots”. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that those are not my boots, nor are they my feet. 🙂 One of the advantages of collaborating with a publisher is that I don’t have to do the epic dance of getting my camera to talk to my tablet while preventing a cat from knocking over a tripod.

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Posted in Knitting, sock, sock pattern Tagged with:

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