2017: Year in Review

I knit a lot of things this year, completing 38 pieces.

Among them, quite a few pieces with eyes.

Only 11 hats.  2018 will definitely include more hats!

A variety of neck things, including shawls, cowls and scarves.

Four adult sized sweaters.  Not a bad number but in 2018 I’m going to focus on general wearability.  Turns out Bill Murray & even cat sweaters are sort of specialty items.  I need daily wear in 2018.

Some things didn’t work out.  I practiced my frogging frequently.

Of course, there was new stash acquisition.  And these are only the skeins I shared.  There’s quite a few that snuck into the house unnoticed by anyone else!

The 2017 Knit of the Year is a tough choice.  The most worn piece has been this Stephen West shawl mash-up.  It includes elements of Dotted Rays, Doodler and Esjan.  It’s been my favorite all year.

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The Bill Murray sweater is pretty awesome though.  Perhaps an honorable mention for Bill.  He deserves to be acknowledged.

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I visited new bay area yarn shops The Royal Bee in Pacifica and Black Squirrel Yarns in the East Bay.  Both get the FogKnits seal of approval!  I also visited Knitterly in Petaluma, love it up there too!  The California National Wool Show and Stitches West also made it into my schedule with great success!

I even got carried away with a bit of cross stitch.

There were many nights (and even a few days) of knitting at my local…

And, I managed all that craftiness while waking up at 6 am and going to work.

It’s been a year of creativity!  Thanks for joining me through it all!  The likes and kind words of appreciation are always so lovely.  I look forward to crafting even more in 2018.  I’ll be looking to you for inspiration and knowledge.  It’s the least we can do to keep things sane and grounded in the new year.

Happy New Year!  Hope you all have a festive (and safe) calendar flip!  See you in 2018!

 

FO Friday – A Family of Fades!

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This is not nearly enough to satisfy my urge to knit hats but it’s a good start!  And it turned out to be a super fun color study.  The yarn is a set of six mini skeins from Good Karma Farms called Color Blurz.

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According to the label it’s 6 skeins at 20 grams each.  They were all a couple grams over though.  The result, with a tiny assist from the stash, I got four hats from this one gradient set (and a lot of ends to weave!)

I also got four variations on the fade.  I started from the blue end of the fade for the first one.  I only got 5 of the 6 colors into the hat though.  Hat 2 started with the color that got left out of hat 1.  Put together you see the full gradient.

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Hats 3 & 4 faded as well, but not in the ‘find your fade’ definition of striping.   For hat 3, I alternated blue stripe-green stripe-blue stripe-etc, switching to the next blue or green in the gradient as I went.  You barely notice it.  I really like effect contrast has.

For the final hat, I needed to supplement the Color Blurz with a little more yardage.  I just happened to have the perfect little bit of deep blue left over from something else.  I was exactly what I needed.  I might love the fourth hat the most.

It’s such a fun set though, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

I haven’t decided where the pom pom belongs yet.

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Ultimately, that’ll be the one I keep.  The rest will likely hit my Etsy shop in the new year so keep an eye out!  I’ve also got some project bags coming, Mom has pulled out her sewing machine to get in on the Etsy action.  She’s made some great large project bags!  I love a big bag!

And, here’s your first glimpse of my exciting new project…

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Oh Yes!  Yarnbombed bicycle coming to my portfolio soon!  I took measurements last night!  The only problem…I have two design ideas in mind.  One bike might not be enough!


 

WIP Wednesday – A New Sweater

Before I show you my new sweater project, let’s take a moment to bask in the glory of this amazing yarn!

This is a DK weight, 100% baby llama yarn my Mom dyed and sent me for Christmas.  I absolutely love it!  Mom used an ice dying technique that I don’t think is common among yarn dyers but seeing the results, it should be!

You prep your yarn as normal and then pack it in ice.  You sprinkle dye powder on top of the ice.  As it melts, the dye is solubilized and trickles down to the fiber below.  The result is all kinds of unexpected fun!  The chartreusey green dye broke into it’s base components giving an amazing array of gold and yellow tones while still maintaining much of it’s greenness.

I love it.  So much complexity from one dye and some ice.  I can’t wait to use it.  It’s 220 yards.  I’m thinking cowl.  We’ll see.  Maybe even some sort of lace leaf motif.  Just as spring starts springing, I usually have a fit that only this color can calm.  It’s gonna be good.

In the meantime, this is my palate…

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Thank you Noro!  This is the Noro Rainbow Roll, a 100% wool pencil roving.  It’s surprisingly soft for a Noro yarn.  It’s certainly softer than the yarn I’m pairing it with, Plutolopi, an unspun Icelandic yarn.

I’m pretending they’re the same gauge, even though they aren’t.  The lopi is distinctly thinner.  I think it works though.  I like the swatch.  I’m going with it.

The plan was generic top-down, raglan cardigan.  The gauge worked out perfectly for Vivido, though.  My two favorite cardigans are this pattern.  One of them is well past it’s expiration date.  I keep repairing it but it really should be retired.  So, in the spirit of if-it-ain’t-broke, my new sweater is another Vivido.

It’s going well, but the plan has definitely changed already.  My original intention was a striped cardigan.  As I work these stripes though, they’re a little busy.  I’m not sure I need that all over my body.

The new plan is striped yoke, solid brown body.  That’s a totally fair compromise.  Plus, I wouldn’t mind having some of this Noro left over.  It really is soft.  I’m feeling the urge to stash more!  (it’s only $11 at Webs right now!?!?)

(and Noro is prone to discontinue this.  It’s definitely a specialty item.)

(I’m gonna try really hard to resist.)

(I should probably use this pile first!)

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(I think I’ve talked myself off the ledge.  For now.)

 

Christmas Surprises Revealed

I knit less and less for Christmas as the years go by.  While it was always hard to make it to the top of knit-worthy list, it’s become even more challenging!  Not only do you have to appreciate what I do with genuine enthusiasm but the spirits have to move me.  Still, it happens more often than planetary alignment.  There’s always hope.

I managed a few Christmas gifts this year.  It’s tough to have knitting secrets in the age of social media and Ravelry.  A good detective will find parts of this years gifts in my digital wake but still, a few surprises were had!  I’ll start with the easy one…

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First is BB-8.  You saw him a few weeks back but it turns out being a knit-worthy friend does not require one to read my blog!  I don’t think he’s changed much.  I added a few details.  Now that I’ve seen the movie, I think I’d add a few more details.  And I’d make his little eye blue.  Seeing him in action gave good insight into which features read and which don’t.   When he was zipping around and engaged, his little eye turned blue.  Making it blue would set it apart from the big eye and give the details around it more depth.   I have yarn for another.  I suspect this is going to be a one-of-a-kind though.

Next up, an alpaca cowl in Mom colors.  This was a travel project so you’ve seen this one before.  I tried to camouflage it.  You were supposed to be looking at the pagoda, not the knitting!

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I used the sequence knitting technique for this one.  I’m still a big fan of sequence knitting.  It was super easy.  I cast on ~150 and worked K5, P3 until I ran out of yarn.  Complete no brainer.  The real star here is the yarn.

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It’s from Skacel and called Concentric.  It’s a 4 ply yarn where the plies are just held together rather than plied.  The gradient effect comes from one ply changing color at a time.  4 plies of cream becomes 3 plies cream plus 1 ply of beige.  That become 2 plies of cream plus 2 plies of beige.  Etc, etc.  Super fun.

The other amazing thing about this yarn:  100% alpaca that did not shed all over my clothes!  I think alpaca is lovely but I never seek out it out.  Shedding stinks.  This yarn drew me in with it’s pretty cake.  I bought it without thinking of the consequences.  I’m happy to report…there were no consequences.  It was awesome.   And Mom liked it too. Everybody wins!

And now, for the real star of the FogKnits Christmas Collection…

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Mom is always asking for hats with big flowers.  I’ve tried to be accommodating.  It’s never enough.  Way back in 2016, I starting knitting flowers, with this hat in mind.

Things were going good.  I had a biologically accurate garden developing.  I started with a California poppy, an hibiscus, a daffodil and a Calla lily.

Then came the hat base.  It’s actually from yarn Mom dyed herself.  Nothing like making your own Christmas present!

Just a plain stockinette fabric for the hat and around the bottom brim, this funny marshmallow yarn from a yarn swap.  At the time, I thought I got the white elephant but it turned out to be the perfect cobblestone path into the garden.  With those parts assembled, it was time to sew flowers.

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I realized pretty quickly, I had no where near enough flowers.

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I started making more.  They became less likely to be found in nature though.  A blue pansy.  a fuschia water lily.  a blue cherry blossom.  a lavender rose.

and whatever this thing is…

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I made a few leaves and even started adding a bit of fauna to the garden…a hedgehog, a lady bug and a couple dragonflies all joined the party.

And now, Mom can never ask for another flower hat again.

I can’t imagine why she’d need another one!  This is, without a doubt, the warmest hat I’ve ever knit.  It’s a fun blast of spring for those extra cold snow days!  Mom is happy.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the hand dyed yarn she sent to me for Christmas.  In the meantime…I’ll be knitting!  The latest sweater is on the needles!!  I’ll share pics soon!


 

FO-ish Friday

It’s been a week since work ended and I’m finally feeling like I’ve had a day off.  It’s taken a few days to get back into the swing of things!

Up until now, my knitting has all been happening on the go.  It’s served me well.  I’ve made it to the blue section of my Match & Move…

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It’s picked up steam as the week as gone by.  It could be done soon, if I leave the house.  That’s a big IF though.  I think the stay at home knitting is calling to me more!  These colors…

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The peacock fade is pretty irresistible.  I’m not gonna juggle six little balls of yarn and a set of dpns on the the bus though.  Some projects stay home for a reason.  I think I can sequester myself and have this done quickly though.

Hat #1 is done.  Hat #2 is underway and I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough yarn for Hat #3.  Hat #1 didn’t even use all the colors.

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I’ve started Hat #2 at the opposite end of the gradient.  It’s amazing how flipping the order of the colors skews the feel of the hat.

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Hat #1 is definitely a blue hat.  Hat #2 will be a green hat.  At this point, it’s reading yellow though.

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Either way…I’m loving both color schemes.   I’m not sure what Hat #3 will be yet.  Maybe a one-row spiral stripe design.  I haven’t decided where the pom-pom will live either.  It’s going to be an exciting afternoon here at FogKnits headquarters.  The excitement never ends!  Wooooo!

Happy Friday!  Happy Holidays!  Knit Lots!  Travel Safe!  Have a great weekend!

Work In Progress Wednesday

All signs point to new project cast ons this week!  The holiday knitting is done and I’ve only got 4 WIPs on the go right now.  I can start two new projects and still be within my strict 6 project limit!  Woooooooo!

The secret holiday projects have been hats.  Specialty hats, definitely not every day hats and definitely not enough to scratch the hat itch.  It’s time for a hat binge!

First up, I’m digging into the stash for yarn from Rhinebeck 2016.

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I’ve been holding on to this fun gradient kit, waiting for the perfect pattern.  I think a lot of us have this ‘problem’.  Awesome yarn, languishing in the stash, unused because it’s ‘special’ and needs to be ‘perfect’.

I’m here to say…PSHAW!  That’s nonsense.  ‘Perfect’ is not about excellent execution of something so precisely correct that there is not one single flaw to be found.  Perfect is about adjusting one’s mindset.

For me, in this case, perfect was the idea that I wanted to use all of this yarn, to its fullest, in one single project.  The yardage isn’t really enough for my ideals of a scarf or shawl and it’s too much for a hat.  It’s too nice to use for a baby garment.  Always too something…

All I needed to solve this problem was a simple attitude adjustment.  Who cares if I use it all in one go?  I love scraps!  My favorite thing is having leftovers to add to the scrap pile!  Hat binges and scrap piles go hand in hand!  Why have I spent 15 months hung up over a few scraps??

And so, with a little bit of soul searching, I decided, I would be happier to knit this yarn into several hats than I would be watching it sit, lonely and untouched, on the shelf.   Duh.  Obviously.  I bought it to use it.

And so, the hat binge has begun in earnest.

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In a fortuitous moment, I remembered this neon green, fur pom-pom.  Another bit of stash being saved for the ‘perfect’ hat.  In this case, perhaps perfection will be achieved, after all.

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In the most bizarre turn yet, this could be perfect AND trendy?!?  If I’m doing the big fur pom, I might as well go all the way and make it a fade too.  These stripes are just too fun.  I sat down for one brief moment, to just finish turning the hem and here I’ve nearly finished it.  I do love a good hat binge.

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I started with a provisional cast on and a turned hem.  It’s a finish I love but don’t do often enough.  If I’m selling a hat, it’s a lovely detail that slows the process down, unnecessarily.  If I’m keeping it though, this is just the type of detail I want to wear.  An uninterrupted field of stockinette stitch at the brim of hat makes me so happy.

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Even the jobless stripes are making me pretty happy today!  My preferred technique is to knit into the row below, at the first stitch, of the second round of each color.   Once the ends are woven and it’s blocked a bit, I think this will be as near to perfection as possible.

And then, I’ll get to do it all over again because I’m definitely going to have enough yarn left over!  Perfection, Indeed!


 

Knitsmas

Despite swearing off the holiday knitting trend each year, December 15th typically finds me elbows deep in knitsmas panic.  Of course, this year is no different.   So I’ve got no knitting pictures to share.  At least not for another week.  Here’s a little hint though…

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I love a good stashbuster!

My publicly disclosed WIPs have been getting a little love.

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Only a little though.  I think I did 3 rows on ^this^ day.  There was more celebrating than knitting…

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My contract at work ended.  I stretched a six-month contract into more than a year.  That’s not too bad.  I marked the occasion with concerts and cocktails all weekend long.

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Soon though, I’ll have so much knitting to share, it’ll be unbelievable!  I’m going to swatch for my “christmas” sweater this week.  (meaning the sweater I start on Christmas Day not a holiday themed sweater).  It’s going to be blue and striped.  I’m going to use this yarn from last year.

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Noro Rainbow Roll.  I’m going to pair it with some unspun Icelandic Plutolopi.  Just gotta get through Knitsmas first!


 

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends

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Last night’s show was…??

I’m having trouble coming up with one word to sum it up.  I’m conflicted about it.  On one hand, the musicians were fabulous and delivered a performance worthy of their world renown.  On the other, some artistic choices were questionable, tone-deaf at the bare minimum.

Here’s the setup:

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The stage setup was minimal and the lighting was sparse.  The colors changed slowly between songs but not during the segments.

From left to right, Bill Murray, Mira Wang on violin, Vanessa Perez at the piano and Jan Vogler with the cello.

The show was about two hours, including the multiple encores.  In the beginning, the narration was quite separate from the music.  Bill did a reading, the musicians followed him with a selection.  The theme, in a broad sense, was American classics.

Bill’s first few readings were Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman and James Fenimore Cooper.  The music following was Bach, Schubert and Ravel.

As the evening progressed, the narration merged with the music and by the end, I’d say we even got a few ‘songs’.   The show ended with a West Side Story medley of Somewhere, I Feel Pretty and America.   The first encore was El Paso, a Marty Robbins song familiar to me through the Grateful Dead.  The second encore was Angel of Montgomery, unlike no version of the song I’ve ever heard.

Now for the complaints, one selection in particular, a reading from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  The controversy over this one is a well known one, stemming from the prolific use of the n-word.  In today’s atmosphere, I have a problem with a room full of white people sitting, literally, at the top of the hill, listening to it.

With all of the conversations about race going on these days, I don’t think this selection added to it.  I’m sure the rationale for including it is a convenient soundbite about the importance of having such discussions and this is just another example being brought to the table.  Blah Blah Blah.  If that was the case, I missed the part where meaningful discussion was had.  To me, it was an old white guy using inappropriate language.   There wasn’t any context for including it.  It was just presented.  Given the plain presentation, it’s left to the listener to come to their own conclusion.  My conclusion:  meh.  If I was the producer, it would have been cut.

Of all the works selected, having one poor choice isn’t huge.  Still though, it seems like an obvious candidate for replacement.  Interestingly, the Huck Finn selection is one track not available to stream on Amazon.  All the other tracks are available but the Huck Finn track is listed as ‘album only’.  I’m curious about that.

The other ‘artistic’ choices fall under the umbrella of sexism.  I think the ladies, exceptionally talented and passionate artists, were relegated to the role of props.  Bill made his entrance at the top of the show flanked by them, holding hands.  It just felt off.  I doubt these women made entrances like this at other performances and I doubt it was their idea.   It colored the entire show.  These talented women were not treated as equals.  And we all know who got the biggest paycheck on that stage.  It was certainly not the women.

At another point in the show, during a cello-piano duet, Bill and Mira, the violinist, did a bit of tango.  They did a little toe-point step in hold and then opened into a little spin from Mira.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  It stuck out being the only choreography of the night.  Beyond that though, Mira was ‘summoned’ to dance and throughout most of it, her back was to the crowd.  Again, it just felt off.  It wasn’t natural and it was a bit out of place.

Given the time we live in, I think it’s appropriate to call out sexism and racism.  These are small things to be sure, coming from an old white guy though, it doesn’t sit right with me.  Was the show awful and terrible? no.  Was it tone deaf?  Yes.  That’s the most generous way to put it.  The intention was not to be offensive.  It just fell a bit short of amazing and genius and all the other praised heaped on.

It makes me think, Bill surrounds himself with Yes Men and people are so smitten just being around him, they don’t call him on it.   To read reviews, specifically of the Huck Finn track, calling it genius and a breath of fresh air seems like a cult of personality to me.   I don’t agree with those assessments.

Oh well, can’t win ’em all.  Most of it was good.  I just can’t give it rave reviews like everyone else but I’m not writing letters demanding my money back either.  It was a fun experience.  Frankly, the sweater is bigger than the show for me.  The show is just sort of an aside.  A cap to the whole experience that started when I read a ridiculous call for a Bill Murray art show.  Obviously there’s a cult of personality involved here.  Who am I kidding?  That was a given from day one.

The most unexpected part of the evening:  the number of hecklers.  Fools in the very back row (naturally) shouting things like ‘THIS SUCKS’ at the quiet moments.  They were shut down quickly and loudly by people around them.  I think it was two gentlemen in particular, maybe it was actually 3 though.  They reminded me of the people who yell ‘FREEBIRD’ at concerts.  LOL.  Poor guys, apparently they thought they were coming to see a comedian do stand up?  The first 20-30 minutes were rough for them.  Bach and Schubert are certainly not Freebird.

The best part of the evening:  Talking to people about my sweater :)  People were interested and amazed, so that was fun.  After all the work that went into it, two sentences doesn’t do it justice but you’ve heard about it all already, so I’ll spare you the repetition.

It’s on to new knitting now.  I’ve got a little bit of time for Christmas knitting and I’ve been jonesing for hat binge.  I haven’t knit a hat since August and that was only my second of the year.  I’m ready!  Bring on the hat binge! It’s gonna be good!!


 

It’s Bill Murray Friday!

It’s Bill Murray Day!  My new Bill Murray vest is done and I’m excited about it!!

But first…all of the non-Bill Murray happenings since the last update.   Knitting in public, cross stitching, new yarn and a fun new monogrammed project bag.

These things are each interesting in their own right but alas, there is only time for one today!

It’s Bill Murray Day!!!!

The Bill Murray sweater is done!  and it’s AMAZING!

I mean, this IS exactly what I set out to do…and it worked.  Even I’m impressed with this one.

I didn’t check gauge or do any math.  I used a weird hodgepodge of yarns that varied from fingering to aran weight.

I set out with a loose plan and this is what happened…

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It’s not that I doubt my skill.  This was just a particularly out there idea.  Every part of it was slightly ridiculous.  I’m gonna knit a portrait of Bill Murray is one thing. (Check out that process HERE)

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I’m gonna turn it into a sweater, is a whoooooooole different story.   Especially considering that it’s a bit fashionable.  AND I like it.   I didn’t expect to really like what I’d done.  I’m gonna wear this everywhere!!

I’m especially pleased with the high-low hem bit.

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Someone from my knitting group suggested it.  I thought about it for a while.  I even drew pictures of it but decided it wasn’t for me, too trendy.  When I got to a certain point though, it just felt like the thing to do, so I did it.   Turns out, I love it!

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It also turns out, it’s incredibly awkward to photography and model at the same time.  And the December lighting situation didn’t help me out.

It’s okay.  I’ll get a better photo tonight when my Bill Murray meets the real Bill Murray!  Wouldn’t that be funny?  I’m not expecting it to happen but both Bill Murrays will be in the same room at the same time tomorrow so anything is possible?!?  It’s a big room, I’ll be way in the back, upstairs in the balcony even.  Still anything is possible.

Anything!

ANYTHING!!

I’ll let you know what I think of the show tomorrow :)   Happy Bill Murray Friday!