Blocking Matters

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While I did knit this weekend, none of my knitting looks any different today than it did last week.   The curse of solid color knitting.  I did manage to block my Hydrogen shawl though!

And it grew!  Yay!

Pre-blocking, with a couple inches to spare on either side of the fence:

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Post-blocking, overhanging the fence panel by a couple inches!

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It’s a great size now and I went up in needle size so it’s a loose, drapey, lovely fabric.

Also, Rainbow!!  I’m looking forward to wearing it a lot.

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Now, back to my sweater.  Next time you hear from me, I want to have the body bound off!


 

 

Knitting + Olympics

Any other Olympic fans out there?  I love the Olympics…especially in the Winter!  The outdoor events are a knitters dream!  A huge sea of people in hats & scarves…no better people (or knitwear) watching than that!

And of course, it’s not just watching.  The athletic games have inspired many knock-off competitions (and many cease and desist orders!)   Never fear…the IOC may have taken the original name but the re-branded, Ravellenic Games are set and ready for cast on!

If you don’t know about the Ravellenic Games, you can find the group with all the details HERE!  The idea is simple, pick your event (anything from cowl curling to scarf skating), cast on during the opening ceremony, aiming to finish by the closing ceremony.  Complete your goal and you get a medal!

I’m a highly decorated knitter!  Here’s a sampling of my medals…

The medal is a jpg blog badge.  Unlike the real Olympics, there’s no drug testing here and it’s easy to cheat.  Obviously, winning isn’t the point of these games.  The Ravellenic Games are really about fostering community and challenging yourself.

Knitting groups – virtual and in real life – form teams to support and cheer each other on (and often award prizes!  If you don’t have a team and you’re interested, check out your favorite indie dyer…those groups get the best prizes!)

After giving it deep thought, I’ve decided to enter the Hat Halfpipe, thirteen times.  I had a minor hat binge back in December but it didn’t come even close to scratching my hat knitting itch.  The games span 19 days, certainly enough time to knit several hats.  In the interest of setting a stretch goal, a baker’s dozen it is!

I’ve certainly got the yarn for it.  Now to come up with that many patterns.  I could easily bang out 13 striped hats from the oddment bin.  That might be too easy though.

I think I should create some guidelines for example, at least 5 hats should be fingering weight, 3 hats should have bills, 2 hats should have cables, 4 hats should have non-stripe colorwork, 3 hats should be from Wooly Wormhead patterns, etc.   I need to think on it a bit before I make decisions!

I’m open to suggestions…got a favorite pattern or some other crazy idea?  Lay it on me!  I’m ready for a big showing in the Hat Halfpipe!  Who else is participating?  I’d love to hear your goals!


 

Work in Progress Wednesday

I can definitely say it’s Wednesday.  I checked the calendar!  Can’t say I’m making much progress on my ‘work’ though.  Every time I check, I’m not seeing much.

My striped Woolfolk shawl.

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One of the balls is getting smaller, so I must be making progress.  I think the next milestone will be running out of yarn prematurely.  I’ve been trying to tell myself that it’ll be okay.  (it won’t but ignorance is bliss.)

My Dotted Grays, aka a Dotted Rays in a lovely gray gradient.

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I’ve crossed the halfway mark with this one.  I can tell because the yarn had two gradient repeats.  Of course, I’ve gotten to the part where rows are hundreds of stitches.  Perfect process knitting.  Doesn’t look any different from last week though.

My Noro & Lopi sweater

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I must be making progress because I’ve nearly finished my first ‘plate’ of yarn. Holding it next to a finished sweater though, shows me I’ve still got a long way to go.

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The long forgotten Rockefeller.

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I just have to decrease down to 9 stitches to get this point finished.  Maybe I’ll get there before this WIP hits it’s second birthday.  Seems like it should be easy.  Not sure what the 18 month delay has been about.   Of course, the other side remains untouched.  I’ve got a hundred stitches to pick up, then decrease down to 9 again.  One decrease every 4th row.  And suddenly, I remembering what the hold up is.

The good news is…there’s no problems here.  I don’t need to figure anything out, I just need to get knitting!  Progress…thy name is Wednesday!  Ready, Set…GO!


 

WIP: Dotted Grays

My neighbor went to Vogue Knitting Live in NY and all I got was this awesome ‘Resting Knit Face’ tote signed by Stephen West!!  I have the best neighbor!

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It even matches my latest cast on, a shades of gray Dotted Rays.  This is another skein from Gauge Dye Works.  The base is an 80/20 merino/nylon blend with high twist in colorway, Fade to Black.

Garter stitch is my go-to when I’m leaving the house, so I’ve made lots of progress on this one.  It’s been knit almost entirely on city buses and in dark movie theaters (which makes up for the complete lack of color)!

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I have a feeling I’m going to like this one, despite it’s lack of color.  There’s a first time for everything, right?


 

2018 Stash Flash

It’s that time of year again.

January.

Time for selfish knitting, setting goals and looking ahead.  Looking, in particular, at Stitches West.  I’ve been going to Stitches since before it needed ‘West’, since the days it was held in Oakland.  You know all those ‘most wonderful time of year’ sentiments people attach to Christmas?  That’s only because they haven’t been to Stitches.

There are many time honored Stitches traditions.  The first is denying I’m even going to go.  I got over that pretty quick.  The next is casting on a new sweater, for the express purpose of debuting it at Stitches.  Yup, Check that off the list!  I think it’s gonna be a good one this year too!

And, perhaps, the most important tradition of all…Flashing the Stash.  I know what yarn I have but seeing all, together, in one place really helps drive home the mantra:  I’m not buying yarn this year.  I’m not buying yarn this year.  I’m not buying yarn this year.  I’m REALLY not buying yarn this year!

I’m really not buying yarn this year??

Yes.  and here’s why:

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This is the stash, in January 2016.  I skipped the 2017 Stash Flash.  So we’ve gotta go back two years.  As a reference, I put my blocking boards down.  It’s a good size reference, this is 18 square feet of yarn.   Everything blacked out is gone.   That leaves a lot.  And, it goes without saying that the Stash grew in both 2016 and 2017.

Here’s what the stash looked like yesterday:

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Unsorted, just in a pile.  There’s a 12″ ruler planted in the middle as reference.  It’s nearly buried.  The yellow bag in the back, that’s my Lopi.  This year’s Stash Flash officially needed a phase 2.

After sorting, it looked like this:

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It broke free from it’s 18 sq ft boundary and it’s still about 8 inches deep throughout.  I took my job as a yarn collector pretty serious the past two years.

Phase 2, the Lopi phase:

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The Lopi behaved well.  I spread it single layer so I’ve got an exact accounting of it.  With yoke sweaters being so on-trend in 2018 I think my next sweater may be a lopi-peacock-fade sort of thing.

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Yes?  Yes!  That sounds awesome and clearly, requires no new yarn!

The rest of that giant pile holds even more awesomeness.

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My YOTH.  Those beautiful greens are destined for a shawl…one day.

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My Quince.  Clearly, I went through a teal phase.  I really need to get these guys on the needles.

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A stash of Road to China Light, the teal phase was still going strong.  This yarn is a phenomenal blend of alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere.  One day, I’m really going to love wearing it.  Hopefully that’s soon.

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I’ve got at least a sweaters quantity of Zooey from Juniper Moon Farms, acquired when cotton seemed like a good idea.

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The section of yarns dyed by my Mom.   Definitely getting some of these on the needles in short order.

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An assortment of speckles and other fingering weight hand dyed yarns.  So many happy hours of knitting in this shot!

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Sparkly yarn, self striping yarn, barber pole hand spun yarn.  At this point, it’s all good stuff.  Nothing big box or acrylic about it.

I’ve got tweed, I’ve got solids, I’ve got blends, I’ve got chainette, I’ve even got one skein of chartreuse mohair.  What more could I possibly even need??

As much as I love new yarn, I really love my old yarn.  This collection has been carefully curated.  The junk is gone.  The colors are perfect.

AND, I’ve got a whole month to make a dent before Stitches.   Ready, Set, GO!


 

Rainbow FOs

My rainbow shawls are done!  Woo!

First, Match & Move by Martina Behm in Miss Babs Rainbow Polydactyl Yummy 2-Ply

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Loved knitting this, garter stitch by the mile is totally my jam.

The second one, is the Hydrogen Shawl knit in Gauge Dye Works, shawl striping MCN in colorway Concrete & Tulips.

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It’s an MCN (merino-cashmere-nylon blend) so it’s super soft!  The best part though, only two ends to weave!  The yarn is dyed in one continuous strand!  It’s amazing! Only two ends to weave.  Only two ends?!!  TWO!!  It’s incredible!

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Now to block it.  I’m not a fan of superwash merino.  I’m a little worried about the curl at the end.  Then, it’ll be perfect!


 

Dream Job

One of my favorite things about being between jobs is having time to walk places.  San Francisco has so many things to see.  Little bits of life here and there.  Like the dismantling of the big Christmas tree, tourists in knee length parkas with flip flops and shorts, street sign pranks, sunsets, the peace plaza in japantown.

That street sign especially cracked me up.  That’s supposed to say Van Ness.  Only in San Francisco would someone turn it into a leather daddy reference.  It gives me hope for the future of the city.   Long live the leather daddys and all the other weirdos that flock here.

It’s not a far jump from graffiti to public art.  I’ve had several discussions in recent weeks about public art.  San Francisco, despite all the other troubles in the world, still finds a few dollars to fund public art.  A recent Civic Center project is something near and dear to my yarnie heart.   A large scale yarn bomb installation!

It’s rolled out in stages.  You got a first glimpse back in August with phase one, tree wraps in the Civic Center Plaza.

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The next phases of the project were designed with community input.  Some arts commission took charge of the project.  In reality, this was part of a marketing scheme to re-brand the Civic Center & UN Plaza as one new location referred to as ‘The Commons’.  Whatever.  That’s less important to me than the fact that they paid people to do this.

They’re a pair of sisters based just a bit south of here and they’ve worked with big names like Old Navy and Lyft, as well.  They’ve been quite successful at making a living by yarn bombing.  This project, though, clearly elevated itself from a humble marketing beginning to a grand display of art.

In addition to the initial color scheme, the community also got to choose two more criteria for the project.  Those choices gave us animals, fitting the theme of ‘land, sea and air’…

…in the form of giraffes, cephalopods (sorry, I forget if they’re squids or octopuses) and local favorite, the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Unfortunately, the junkies and the meth-heads don’t appreciate the beauty these critters bring to the neighborhood.  They’ve been substantially damaged.  I’m bummed I didn’t get down there sooner.  The poor parrots have gotten the worst of it.

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Poor guy.  The cephalopods have lost limbs as well.  They’re still looking good thanks to height though.

Same with the giraffes.  The high points still look good.  They’ve almost entirely lost their feet though.  Poor fellas.

The amount of time & detail that’s gone into each of these pieces is amazing!  They’re so fabulous.  Definitely look for them, if you happen to be local.  They won’t last forever and they’re worth seeing.  They are guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

So, if you know anyone who wants to pay $50K for a knitted art installation, yarn bomb or otherwise…send ’em my way.  I’d love it so much, I wouldn’t even complain about being a 1099 contractor and having to provide my own benefits.  Unless you know someone who wants me on the payroll full-time, I’m okay with that too!  In the meantime, I’ll be updating my resume!  Happy Knitting!


 

WIP Wednesday – Sweater Surgery

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I happily cruised through the raglan increases on my sweater.  The classic Stripe Acceleration Effect was definitely felt here.  It went by in a flash.  The sleeve divide was the same, barely a pause.

Until…

(dun dun dun)

I forgot about making buttonholes.  This marker had one express purpose…to remind me about buttonholes.

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What a bonehead move!  A full inch too far.  In a yarn that doesn’t really cooperate with being ripped out.  UGH.

I let a lot of mistakes slide.  This is not one of them.  This type of mistake needs to be corrected, no ifs, ands or buts.

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When faced with the choice to either drop down to fix a mistake or to rip back, I always choose dropping stitches, correcting the problem and laddering back up.  Worst case scenario, I can’t fix it and maybe even make it worse.  Ripping back is always there as Plan B.

This time, I got lucky.

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Viola!  Buttonhole Surgery Success!  Woooo!

Assuming, I don’t forget anything else, it should be smooth sailing to the bottom hem from here!

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My goal is to have this sweater ready to wear at Stitches in late February.  Hopefully I can say this without jinxing myself…that deadline is a no brainer!  Time to start thinking about buttons.


 

Big Plans

Have you seen the new 2018 Ravelry Project Challenge?  Once again, Casey has added an absolutely brilliant feature.  I never knew I needed it but shortly, I’ll be wondering how I ever lived without it?

You can find your personal challenge page on a notebook tab labeled ‘challenge’.  It’s the very last tab.  When you get there, you’re asked to set a personal goal (which can be modified at any time).  The goal is simply the number of projects you want to complete this year.

 

I set my goal at 40 projects, 2 more than 2017.  It was an arbitrary decision.  The project challenge for me is not about metrics.  I pretty much hate the word ‘metrics’.  I would never judge my knitting by metrics.  Quality is vastly more important to me than quantity.

I love the tracking features of the project challenge though.  Here’s what my Challenge tab looks like so far.

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It shows my progress to date, meaning the projects I’ve marked ‘finished’ in 2018.  It also tracks my plans, meaning the items in my queue I’ve assigned a deadline too.  I use my queue as a general catch-all for any pattern I may, possibly want to make.  I try to keep it a manageable size, you know, only 30 pages.  When I go looking for a pattern, I search my queue first.  If I don’t find something I like there, then I go to the full database and look for something new.  As a result, my queue isn’t a list of what’s next.   The project challenge, fills that hole perfectly!

You can see, I’ve finished two projects this year.  That’s 5%.  I’m on my way!  Unfortunately, it’s been raining so my usual spot on the fence for FO photos is too wet.  I’ll have photos to share soon enough, though.

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In the meantime, rainy days are perfect for winding yarn and planning new projects.  I’ve set deadlines for 3 projects.  Of course, they’re arbitrary.  I wasn’t really convinced I liked the project challenge just yet.  Once I set my deadlines though, the projects were pulled over to the challenge page and that was it. I officially love the project challenge.

And, if it’s on the list, it’s time to cast on!  First pick:

Striped Asymmetry.  I found it flipping through a magazine over the weekend.  Imagine my surprise to discover I had the suggested yarn, Woolfolk Tynd, in my stash, in the exact quantities needed even.  That’s a win requiring immediate cast on, if I’ve ever seen it!

The real draw to this project, though, is garter stitch short rows and a clever key hole.  There’s a hole left on one end of the shawl to tuck the other end through.  Perfect!  No more lost shawl pins!

After that, it’ll be a pair of WestKnits.  A pair of repeats, but you know what they say…if it ain’t broke…

The grey gradient skein is a self striping yarn from Gauge Dye Works destined to be a Dotted Rays.  The yarn pair on the bottom is MadTosh Pashmina in Cosmic Wonder Dust and Deep…to become a Batad.  It’ll be opposite the one in the picture…white/speckly wedges with gorgeous blue welted stripes.  I’ve wanted that Batad since I brought this pashmina home, 2 and a half years ago!  It’s time!

Yes, I think this should keep me busy until February!  If nothing else, I’m organized!  Thanks Ravelry!  Definitely check out the project challenge tab if you haven’t yet!  It’s awesome!


 

 

 

 

 

WIP Wednesday – The Bike Project

Welcome to 2018!  I’ve got my first FO of the year already (and my first opportunity to complain about weaving ends! I don’t know why I always want to knit stripes?!)  I really want to wear it, so I’m motivated to get it done.  Still though, I procrastinate.

I’m working on a little bike sweater project instead.

This is the bike.

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And this is the sweater…

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The intention is bright.  Fingers crossed it’s playful and fun without crossing the line into garish.  I think I’m on the right track so far.  Stay tuned…this is only the beginning!