Super Secret FO Revealed

Once upon a time, my weekly knitting group decided no one ever knits for knitters, so we should knit for ourselves.  Each year at the holiday party, we draw names and six months later at our anniversary party, we swap gifts in the form of things we’ve knit for each other.

I’ve received some terrific knitted items, a pair of socks, a felted bag that I carried everywhere for at least a year, a westknits cowl that I never would have knit for myself.

I’ve taken different approaches to what I knit each year.  Sometimes, there are many consultations with other people, will so-and-so like this? Knitting by committee is definitely a thing with a project by a knitter, for a knitter, in a knitting group.  One year, I openly blogged about it.  One year, I forgot to take pictures almost entirely.

5 years of swap collage

This year, it’s been completely secret!  I didn’t share who I picked or what I was knitting at all.  I mean, I told the group I was knitting a pink fringed poncho.  We’re celebrating year 8, pretty sure no one believed me when I said that.

So, without further ado, I present this year’s super secret knitting…the Dragon Wing Cowl!

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Details:  Pattern – Dragon Wing Cowl by Jessie Rayot, Yarn – Cephalopod Yarns Beastie in Man-Eating Tree, My Ravelry Page.

The construction is super fun!  You start off with a long garter stitch rectangle…

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It’s got a series of increases to give you the wing effect.  The spines come from dropping stitches all the way back to the cast on…

 

 

 

and then picking them back up in segments of stockinette stitch…

 

 

 

 

Lots of fun!  and they look great!

 

 

 

Block the points out, add some real bone buttons…

 

 

 

and it’s a cowl fit for a Khalessi!  Thanks to HBO, it seems like I planned this perfectly!

Best news of all, it was very well received and as soon as the recipient put it on, she had styled it better than anything I had managed to do in two months.   That made me very happy! It was super as I finished it but it came to life as soon as she put it on.  It was clearly meant to be!

And in true O.Henry fashion, she was the same person who picked my name!  I’ll show you what she knit me after I’ve had some daylight to take pics!  Hint:  Cat Socks!!


 

FO Sunday

Two things about me…

First, I don’t like being told what to do.  (See:  my inability to follow a pattern.  I’m not gonna let a piece of paper tell me what to do!?!)

Second, I don’t like having my picture taken.

These two things are universal truths about me.  They have always been true and probably always will be.  This is me, in kindergarten.

2017-07-23_10-39-09_323 See?

This photo cracks me up every time.  I’m sure the photographer wanted me to smile.  I’m sure he tried to get me to smile.  Why would I care about that?  I don’t need to be part of the dog and pony show if I don’t want to be.  I’m not smiling and you can’t make me.  LOL.  It’s pretty amazing, actually, that I’ve changed so little.

And so, with that explanation, here’s today’s FO.

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It’s another garter & brioche cowl with the yarn that shall not be named.  I just could not coax myself into smiling though.  I wasn’t feeling it.  OH well.  I tried.  I have a whole slew of pouting outtakes.  That’s just the way some days go.

I do feel bad for people who try to take pictures of me.  I don’t really help the process along.  Even when the photographer is me.  LOL.

 

And, the FO isn’t really that bad either.  While I detest working with the yarn that shall not be named, it’s a much better FO.  Wearing it, you’d never know the passion with which I hate this yarn.   The colors are lovely and there’s not an itch in sight.

As for the pattern, I improvised along the same lines as the last one, provisional cast on, a bit of garter stitch, a bit of brioche (only one color this time), a bit more garter, a bit more brioche, graft the ends together.

I did not intend for this cowl to become a Möbius but it did.  I sort of like it.  It’s certainly not offensive enough to undo it and re-graft it.  That leaves me with 3.5 balls of this yarn left.  I’m thinking another cowl, complete with Möbius modification.  Taller, longer…more around the shoulders.

SO many knitting plans, never enough time.  Happy Sunday!


 

FO Friday (on thursday night.)

It’s been an instant gratification kinda week!  I’ve finished a hat and a cowl!

The hat, for a co-worker’s new baby, started over a beer…

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and by the next morning, I had this…

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Nothing fancy, just a little square hat with umbilical cord corners!  Details on Ravelry!

and then, there’s this…

I had fun improvising a pattern…provisional cast on, couple inches of garter stitch followed by 18 inches of two color brioche with a contrasting colorway and grafting the ends together.

I like the vibrancy of the colors.  I gifted it to a friend and she was very happy with it.  The red/orange/rust bits are really her thing.  She’s always wearing cowls and turtlenecks so I’m confident it’s found a good home.

Now, for the complaints.  The yarn is Lion Brand Landscapes and I hate it.  My Mother always taught me not to hate things because hate was a very strong emotion.  Now, I understand why I had to reserve hate for only the very despicable things in life.

Like hideous acrylic yarn.

Ack.  It’s the worst.  Remember Lion’s yarn ‘Homespun’?  It’s like that, only think of fingernails on a chalkboard at the same time.  It’s that bad.

What makes it worse that going to sleep with gum in your mouth and waking up with gum in your hair?  It’s barely spun.  If it were wool, we’d certainly call it roving.  The result of this exceptionally loose single ply is the worst splitting I’ve ever encountered.  When you split wool roving and pull your needle back out, the roving kind of collapses back onto itself, that’s the amazing springy quality we love about wool.

Now imagine 100% acrylic, it’s just strands of plastic laying next to other strands of plastic.  If you accidentally split the yarn, it stays split.  It doesn’t have any bounce to it so reassembling the pieces that were split is quite a chore.  Frankly, it was maddening.

I don’t like to label yarns as ‘splitty’ when so much of it depends on the individual knitter. The best advice to avoid splitting is slow down and be more careful.  I certainly reminded myself of that frequently as I worked this cowl.

Okay, fine.  Maybe it’s not the yarn, maybe it’s me.  Whatever.  I’ll be more careful and I’ll deal with the splits when they do happen.  It’s good to practice one’s patience and understanding, even if it’s with an inanimate object.

Until this happens:

It might be kind of hard to see but if you expand these photos perhaps you’ll see the faint outlines of garter stitch on the left and columns of knits on the right.

These are photos of my bathroom sink after blocking this stupid acrylic cowl.   I thought surely, blocking this thing couldn’t go wrong.  It was literally impossible.  It was designed for the washing machine and I was just giving it a gentle 30 minute soak in cool water, with no additives, just water.

I literally thought to myself ‘at least it’s not MadelineTosh, I know it won’t bleed.’

ha.  Apparently, I don’t knock on wood nearly often enough.

I don’t think the yarn bled, per se.  The blocking bath was entirely clear.  Somehow though, dye transferred from my cowl to my bathroom sink.  WTF, Lion?

I hate this yarn.  I don’t even feel bad saying that.

I really tried but it turns out, I’m a yarn snob for a reason!  I make no apologies!  I counteracted the acrylic by casting on a new project with Hedgehog Fibers!  I’ve been squirreling away skeins all year…it’s time to bust them out!  Tune in tomorrow to see my progress! I’m loving it so far!


 

FO – Cat Sweater

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My first cat sweater is finished!  My actual cat is stunned by the awesomeness of his likeness.  Or he’s been possessed.  It could go either way at this point.

The pattern is called Professor Meow and I followed it, more or less.  My gauge was different so size adjustments were made.  And my one addition, the paw print on the back.

I made this one for my sister.  I’m making one for myself next.  It’s going to be identical.  I really don’t know what came over me.  It’s one thing to send crazy text messages about knitting us identical sweaters.  It’s another story entirely, to actually do it.

It’s just one of those things I couldn’t resist.  I’m still excited for it.  I thought my gusto for the project may have died about this point but I’ve cast mine on already, progress is being made!

I am making one change — needle size.  Instead of knitting the next size up, I’m going up in needle size.  I think it’s going to work out purrrrfectly!


 

Can’t Win ‘Em All

some things can't be unseen

I’ve created a monster and for once, I’m NOT talking about the cat.  No, I’m talking about that big, weird splat behind him.  I was foolishly optimistic that blocking would improve my latest FO, the Vee Vee shawl.

wtf was I thinking

It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever knit but it’s certainly not the best.  It has some good parts.

But, it’s got some wonky parts too.

It’s also got some green splotchy parts.  Thanks KnitPicks.  <- sarcasm.

The yarn is KnitPicks Chroma Worsted and it bled.  Green.  Ugh.  I’d care, if this thing wasn’t such a monstrosity already.

I’m kinda over it.  Oh well.  You learn just as much from failed experiments as you do successful ones.   The lesson here:  Good intention isn’t enough.  Sometimes, planning things in advance actually helps.

And so, for my next trick, I’ll knit a sweater from a pattern!  Hard to believe but so far, I’m mostly on pattern with this one.

catsweater progress

Cat Sweater #1 is nearing completion!  This one is for my sister, who’s a smaller size than I am.  I couldn’t resist trying it on anyhow.  I think it’s going to be perfect!  I can’t wait to start mine.  I think instead of making a larger size, I may just go up a couple needle sizes for myself.  (because while I can follow a pattern, I can’t do it for long!)

FO Saturday. I refuse to be rushed.

ice cream pile

I finished my latest shawl last week.  It’s a bit of sequence knitting that I designed myself.  I LOVE SEQUENCE KNITTING!  I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it.  I really want you to know how awesome it is.  It’s such a simple idea – pick a sequence and repeat it – and yet the possibilities are endless!  Anyone can become a designer with a basic understanding of sequence knitting.

texture

The thing about sequence knitting is amazing reversible textures that look complex but are easy to execute.  My sequence of choice was K5, P5.  With just a few little notes about how to create a shape, a triangle in my case, you’ve got the whole pattern already.

blocking

Of course, I complicated matters by making two asymmetric triangles but taken individually, either half could be a stand alone design.

The first triangle, the green one, I started at the bottom edge on the right side.  I cast on 3 stitches and then worked every row the same:  KFB, (K5, P5) to the end.  If my row ended K5, P1 I just ignored those 4 purls necessary to complete the sequence.  Same thing each time, disregarding the portion of the sequence that was missing.

texture together

To work the second triangle, I picked up stitches along the edge of the first triangle, casting on 6 stitches at the top.  I really wanted to accentuate the asymmetric shaping.

fence

I set my sequence as K5, P5 again but this time the triangle is shaped with decreases instead of increases.   I wanted the top edge to remain straight so I only decreased along the bottom edge.

orangetexture

The result for the orange triangle is a two row repeat, starting from the top edge.

Row 1:  (K5, P5) to end.  Row 2:  K2Tog, (K5, P5) to end.

Last change:  For the second triangle, instead of ignoring unworked portions of my sequence, I carried them to the next row.  If Row 1 ended K5, P2, the next row began, K2Tog, P3, K5, P5…etc.

I know, it sounds complicated, but really, that’s just me doing me.   I like simplicity and complication all at once.  I added lots of little bits to customize it.   All that extra stuff is completely knitter’s choice!  That’s why sequence knitting is great!  Maybe you like lace, your sequences could include yarn overs & k2togs.  It could be a really long repeat, like K5, P1, K3, P2, K2, P1, K1.  If you can remember it, it’s your sequence.

chair

And we haven’t even mentioned the ridiculous color yet.  I dyed the base yarn for this project with my Mom.  It was Halloween.  Maybe I got carried away.  Maybe orange, green and purple yarn is a classic example of variegated clown barf.  So, maybe double stranding it with other orange and green yarn will tone down what could be variegated nightmare?

Hopefully?

selfie

Ultimately, it all works.  I couldn’t be happier with how this knit-on-a-sequence-whim piece turned out.  The yarn, the crazy designing, the sequence knitting, all came together lovely!  I really like it.  I’ll definitely be wearing it lots!

(at least until my cat sweater is done…it’s on the needles!  Stay tuned for an update, it’s gonna be awesome!!)

 

Me Made May (aka The Pile)

stack of shawls

It’s almost June and I’ve failed to mention ‘Me Made May’.  If you aren’t familiar, it’s a month long celebration for makers and slow fashion.  Participation is easy, wear the fruits of your labor (sewn, knit, crocheted, woven or otherwise handmade) everyday and share photos on social media using #memademay

While primarily geared towards those who sew their clothes, I think it’s a great opportunity for knitters too!  There was a time, when I never wore any of my knitting.  I think this is true of many process knitters.  These days, I’m more of a ‘reformed’ process knitter.  With only a little bit more attention to the product, I’ve been able to knit things I love to wear while still scratching the urge to knit miles of garter stitch.  It was a little shocking to look at that pile and realize how much of it is garter stitch.  I just can’t resist.

a big pile

At this point, I’ve almost amassed a shawl collected that affords me the luxury of a different shawl every day of the month.   Luxury being the key word!  I love my Merino-Cashmere-Silk pile of amazingness!  Which, brings me, finally, to the point of this missive — pictures of the pile!!

My Mom will be visiting me in San Francisco, for the first time in a decade.  I’ve promised her the pick of the litter while she’s here!  I’ll start with the two that I’m keeping.  No chance I’ll part with these two:

Keepers

My Exploration Station (left) and My Doodler (right)

They’re probably the two I wear most.  I’m not parting with them.  Don’t worry, there’s still lots of amazingness to choose from, much of it, I’ve never really worn.

I’m obsessively organized when I comes to project details and notes on Ravelry, I’ve linked everything to it’s Rav page if you’re interested in yarn or pattern info!


transatlantic

(L to R):  Garden Arbor, Lux Adorna Cashmere, Transatlantic, Icelandic Citron, Lefty, Neon Grape Feather & Fan


thendara hitchhiker

(L to R): Thendara, Geysir Stretch, Giant Hitchhiker, Exploration Continuation, Dotted Rays, Granny Triangle


pendulum batad cameo

(L to R): Pendulum, Stripe Study, Cameo, Batad #2, Batad #1


eyeball dotted rays doodler

(L to R): Asymmetric Sequence Shawl, Striped Sequence Shawl, The First Doodler, The Eyeball, Another Dotted Rays, Gradient Garter Triangle


color craving southern skies

(L to R):  Muh-Muhs, Color Craving, Southern Skies, Building Blocks, Another Big Hitchhiker

Oh yes, so much to choose from!  I love having this many options!  The first time Stephen West did a tour with classes, I couldn’t wait to take his shawl class.  He started off by asking everyone what their ideal shawl was.  Most people had an idea…two of the ladies even said Nieblings.  Not me though, my answer was ALL OF THEM.  No one shawl can be perfect all the time, obviously I need about 1000 to choose from.  I’m making good progress!!

And so, the moral of the story is:  Wear your handknits proudly, in May and the rest of the year! Slow fashion has so many benefits, to the planet and to your own health!

My pile of sweaters is growing too!  At a slower pace, but progress is being made!  I want at least three more sweaters this year and another skirt too!  Ready…Set…GO!