Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Blooming Perianth

Perianth is growing a little bit each day. I work a few rows after I feel satisfied in my progress on my Christmas knitting. It's my little treat for getting the knitting chores done.

Last night I decided to block what I had already finished on the needles to see how the yarn would change. I was having a little bit of puckering in my colorwork, so the perfectionist obsessive part of my brain wanted to make sure the puckering would block out before I continued on and worked the whole body. Well, the blocking worked its magic and I am satisfied - no more puckering and the stitches, especially the single white stitches stranded (haha - pun intended) out there by themselves, are looking much more even.

Then I got the brilliant (read as compulsive) idea to measure my gauge after blocking to see how my estimated measurements were holding up. And my gauge in the color work is about 1.5 stitches tighter than my original swatch. Whoops. (It's like Holly had an overpowering psychic wave with her comment on my last post... She tried to warn me.) The difference in gauge shaves about 4 inches off my cardigan's circumference. I'm always reading the warnings about how even being one stitch off in your gauge can drastically change the measurements of your garment. Turns out they (the collective they of the interwebs who are always trying to warn me) were right. Math works like that.

But I'm still charging ahead (the perfectionist part of my brain shuts right up about this problem). The gauge difference will really only effect the fit of the sweater over my bust. The addition of a button band will give me a little leeway on that front. Plus, it's a cardigan, so I can always leave the bust unbuttoned and it's a perfectly acceptable way to wear the sweater.

But for future steeked cardigans (I'm already planning another one because I'm having too much fun working large colorwork patterns), I will take this lesson to heart: swatch in the round with the colorwork. You only get lucky so many times before your luck runs out.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

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Saturday, 8 November 2014

The start of Perianth

The yarn for my Parienth cardigan has arrived! Let the knitting commence! I am making this a project a birthday present to myself (an half-decent excuse to buy some new yarn, for once). I also used it as an excuse to but some decent yarn, and went with MadTosh light in Antler and Medieval. Because if you are going to take scissors to your knitting, you better go big or go home. In reality though, if when this all works out fabulously, I want to be left with a beautiful "never taking this off ever again" sweater.

I got started yesterday by actually making a swatch. Or, a semi-swatch at least. I was too lazy to cast on enough stitches to work a swatch in the round, so I just worked a small rectangle in stockinette and hoped that my stranded knitting will match my regular gauge at least for the most part. I knew I probably would have a looser gauge doing stranded knitting, so I cast on in the smaller range and worked from there. 

I read up a lot of blogs on streaking before starting (most of which you can find pinned on my knitting Pinterest board). I knew going in that I want to work a crochet edged steek, so after working the ribbing flat, I joined everything to work in the round and added 7 center stitches where my steek will go - those are the pretty striped stitches in between the stitch markers. That's where the magic will happen once I've finished working the chart on the body of the sweater. Every time I work these stitches I think to myself, "Oh dear, this is where the cutting happens. I have to cut this at some point." I'm really hoping that if I just say knitting affirmations as I pass these stitches (things like "Steeking is easy!", "This is going to be a beautifully steeked cardigan.", and "All the cool kids are steeking these days.") that by the time I actually get around to doing the task, it'll be old news. A snooze. Nothing new happening here, just steeking like a pro. (I'm scared of the steeking. But I know it will be alright. It's one of those classic, "if everyone before me can steek, I can, too" moments.)

At the end of one day of knitting, patterns are emerging. It's starting to look like something. Something with potential. I'm excited because I'm having a lot of fun working this pattern. I think it'll be slow going for a little bit (still have a decent amount of Christmas knitting I'd like to finish up in the next couple of weeks), but with a few rows here and there, I'm excited to take on this adventure. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Old favorites are good favorites

This week...

Knitting: Progress on the knitting gift list is going well. Last week I checked one Christmas project off the list, so this week I'm casting on another. I'm also making really good progress on the projects I was previously working on - just a few more pattern repeats on the largest project and it will soon be off the needles. It's looking like I will actually pull this crazy idea off - things will be finished in time to mail to the States for the holidays and all but one item was made with stash yarn.

Reading: After finishing the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series I was suffering from major book drunkenness. You know, that feeling you suffer from when you finish a really good book that you just loved. I missed the world. I missed the characters. I missed it all. I sat staring at my bookshelf fighting with myself over what to start next. When I'm riding the emotional wave of a great book, I often find myself dreading the inevitable disappointment that comes from trying to find a book to fill the void. So I took the chicken's way out and just went with a series I knew would take me to a place I loved. I haven't read many of the Harry Potter books in years and years and years, so it's time it got a reprieve from shelf life for a bit.

Listening: Lately I've been loving this new podcast, Serial. It's a weekly, short podcast that tells a single story throughout the season, but unravels different aspects of the story each week. This season, the podcast's first, Serial covers the story of a young man who was convicted of killing his high school girlfriend back in the late '90's. He's been in prison every since, but claims he didn't commit the murder. What makes the story so fascinating is that both has flaws and holes, and Serial is trying to uncover what really happened. It's a real-life murder mystery that you are trying to solve along with the journalist, and it takes you on different twists and turns as the story is uncovered more each week. Check it out because it's addicting.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Selbu modern

Ever since I decided to try my hand at adapting the Perianth pattern into a cardigan, I've been in a stranded knitting state of mind. I rationalized this take over of my mental state by telling myself that I should practice before I take on a whole cardigan. I haven't really worked stranded knitting for a good while, and since I have to wait to start my Perianth cardigan anyway (hurry up mail!), why not take on a small project to get my stranded knitting mojo back. And heck, nothing beats a beautiful free pattern like the Selbu Modern

My Selbu Modern is knit with Knit Picks Palette yarn I had in my stash. I went with a safe and classic (for me) color combination, working with a light gray and purple. I can't go wrong with purple - it's guaranteed to be worn if it involves purple. Plus, it'll match my winter coat, which, shockingly, is purple. 

The only modification I made was to work a corrugated ribbing, instead of the regular 1x1 ribbing suggested in the pattern. I'm firmly of the opinion that corrugated ribbing is beautiful, easy, and criminally underused. It makes any stranded project look even more impressive, but its so simple to do, so why not? Other than that, I stuck to the pattern completely, which was very easy to follow - a nice big chart and straight forward finishing instructions made this a really fun knit. 

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Creative blog hop

The amazing Ine from A Picture Book Mind nominated me to take part in a creative blog hop that is going around. I think I answered some questions pretty similar to these a few months ago, but we'll give it another try. Maybe my feelings about certain things have changed with the time... so here we go.

What am I working on? Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of creative projects going on at the same time (mildly controlled chaos). Right now, my primary focus is on finishing up a few Christmas gifts for my family. I also have my go-to travel project, a pair of socks, on the needles. And sitting in a little mini hibernation until holiday knitting is finished, are two new sweaters for myself: Yane and the Telluride Aran.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? This question is hard. It really makes me stop and think, because I'm not entirely sure what my genre is. Here is how I would define myself: I am a knitter. I like modern designs and shapes. I love using traditional knitting techniques, like stranded knitting, intarsia, and guernsey, to create modern shapes and patterns. I make everyday, wearable items. I'm not sure how I stand out from other knitters who would similarly classify themselves, but I do know what inspires me in my craft. I often find myself greatly inspired by color. I love playing with colors - working with different, new color combinations, incorporating color in unexpected ways, and using modern colors in combination with older, more traditional knitting styles. I am also inspired by texture, like cables and guernsey, and love when these older techniques are used in ways that create modern shapes and designs. I strive to learn to use these traditional knitting techniques in different, unexpected ways to help build my knitting skill set and my confidence.

Why do I create what I do? Fiber art has been in my life for many years now. When I was younger, I crocheted, worked cross-stitch, and embroidery. Later in life, I took up crochet again and also taught myself to knit. I have a need for creative expression, but I was not really skilled in more artsy-fartsy techniques, like painting or drawing, and I'm not exactly musically inclined, either. So my creative outlet became writing and, more recently, crochet and knitting. I especially enjoy knitting because it provides me with a challenge, one that distracts me from my everyday stresses, but still pushes me mentally. I also really enjoy creating something that is useful in every day life. Finishing a unique sweater one day and being able to wear it the next makes me feel accomplished (and I definitely don't mind when my work is admired when I wear it). For me, knitting is a very satisfying and rewarding creative outlet.

How does my creative process work? I would say about 70% of the time, I come across a pattern or design that I love and I will seek out a yarn that works with it. It's with the yarn that I can try to put my own "Brandy" spin on it. About 25% of the time, I find a yarn that I just love and I will save it until I find a project inspires me, bringing about that miraculous, "I have the perfect yarn for this amazing pattern" moment that I love. The remaining 5% of the time, I have an idea of a technique I want to use in a project and I will seek out a pattern and a yarn to accomplish what I want. It's that small 5% sliver that may be growing slowly as I gain more knitting experience as I'd like to someday make my own personal designs. Right now, I don't feel entirely confident in my knitting to create my own designs and patterns, but every now and then, I am trying to find a pattern with a specific technique used in a specific way and just cannot find anything. It's then that I briefly think to myself, "I would design this hat/sweater/sock myself, you know, and get exactly what I want." But then I chicken out and keep searching. Someday I will get there, but not today.

I nominate Kylie, Steph, and Marina, three fellow knitters I love watching grow and create. You can look forward to seeing their responses within the next two weeks.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A little bit of crazy

I've made really good progress on all my planned Christmas knitting. I'm at least half way, if not two-thirds of the way, finished with the both projects I blogged about last week. And I am really happy with how they are turning out, which makes me very excited for Christmas. It is the best feeling giving a gift you are proud of and know will be enjoyed by the recipient.

I haven't worked on much besides these two gifty projects, but with the progress I've made, I think I've eased myself into this safety zone. I feel like I will accomplish my goals for holiday knitting, so I've allowed myself to think just a bit about knitting some personal projects. Just a wee bit of selfish knitting, here and there. But I've been in a little bit of a slump when it comes to my personal knitting projects. After knitting the full back of my Yane sweater, I ran into some yarn issues that has put it on the back burner for a bit. I had projects I wanted to work on, but I just wasn't completely in love with them as much as I wanted to be.

After digging through my favorites, I was really feeling a fair isle or stranded knitting project. I haven't worked on a project with stranded knitting since my Endpaper mitts, so I had that on my mind while searching through patterns. And that's also when I think I lost my mind. Because I ran across the beautiful Perianth mitten pattern and remembered the stunning cardigan that was adapted from the chart of the mittens. And I said to myself, "I really love this cardigan. I really want this cardigan. I will make. This. Cardigan." And then I jumped off the deep end. I decided this would be my birthday present to myself and bought (what I hope will be) enough MadTosh Light to make the cardigan. It's all very insane because this cardigan really has no pattern, so I basically have to figure out the shaping of the armhole and neck myself (ack!). But what is really crazy about this plan... steeking. This cardigan is steeked. Have I ever steeked? No way, Jose. So of course, I will try it out the first time with nice, expensive yarn and on a pattern I love. Why not?

I think this might be my quarter life crisis.

Oh, and I finished my book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor. It completely lived up to the previous two books in the series. It was lovely, romantic, action packed, suspenseful, and great. The ending got a little muddled to me, trying to tie up all the loose ends (there is a lot going on in this series), but I was happy with how things got wrapped up overall. I loved this series, and I will miss reading these books, until I picked them up again soon.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

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Monday, 27 October 2014

Knitting Confessions #9

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

On Mondays, I'll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting "no-no's". Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below.  

Confession #8: I have a track record of abandoning knitting projects.

I think we've probably all had the experience of finding a pattern or yarn, casting on a new project full of excitement and possibility, and then slowly (or maybe not so slowly) losing that "cast-on euphoria." That's when poor, hopeful knitting projects get cast aside for the next new and exciting project. I have one basket where my discarded WIPs usually end up. I dig through this basket often looking for a interchangable cable of a certain size or some needles sadly tossed aside with some project, but which I now need to start something new. Every once in awhile, I stop my feverish digging and actually look at the projects I've abandoned, things sitting unworked for months at a time. More and more lately, I find myself looking at what I started and thinking, "I kind of really hate this now."

Sometimes, it's the yarn I fall out of love with.

I started this cardigan with a bubblegum pink yarn striped with charcoal gray. I bought the yarn on sale from Knit Picks intending to use it for a sweater. And I even got the entire body finished, but then it languished in the basket of doom for a long time waiting for sleeves. Sleeves that never came. I finally came to terms that I probably would never wear a bubblegum pink stripped cardigan. Ever. 

So I frogged the whole thing and ended up overdyeing the yarn to create the pumpkin orange yarn that became my Peabody sweater, which I love and wear lots.

Other times, the pattern I chose just isn't doing it for me anymore.

I loved Darcy as soon as I saw it, so I bought the book, I bought a lovely romantic wine colored merino wool, and I got started. But the continuous moss stitch was just not so fun to work, and after finishing the back and half of one front, it got stuck in the basket of doom. I pulled it out last night thinking it would be the perfect project to work on as a break from all my Christmas knitting. But I just wasn't feeling the love anymore. It just felt chunky with the moss stitch and I didn't like how the peplum was draping in the yarn I selected. So guess what? It's getting frogged.

But I'm left with this deep red, wine colored yarn that I have no idea what to do with now. It's not really a color I would typically choose, but it worked with the romantic, old-fashioned notion of Darcy. I was thinking of embracing the "old-fashioned," traditional vibe of the yarn and go with afull on classic cable sweater. Or maybe embrace the romantic route with lace with modern twist. I just want to chose something that I will be inspired by and won't end up back in that dreaded basket again waiting for me to dig it out and save it. Someday.

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