WIP It Wednesday

I’m back in the swing of things with my knitting, which means a classic case of Cast on-itis has manifested.

It’s not enough to finish just finish my nephew’s super cute christmas sweater.  No, I couldn’t just enjoy my beautiful seams.  I had to start another sweater.  Of course, that sweater can’t be knit in a dark movie theater so I had to cast on a movie theater project.  I’m still working on my latest shawl too!

It’s all going well!  Baby’s first ugly Christmas sweater is almost done.  It’s acrylic and I’m thinking of ‘killing’ it.  Not something I’ve ever done intentionally but I think it’ll take this sweater from stiff to drapey.  That should up the cozy factor!  I’m planning to wash and dry it in the machine.  Then, hit it with the steam iron.

I’ll keep you posted!  Hopefully it’ll be ready for a big FO Friday reveal!  You aren’t gonna want to miss this one!

Jimmy’s SmartStix Needle Review

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I’m happy to have my needles clicking again…I don’t have much to show for my renewed efforts though…at least not on my Striped Esjan Shawl.  It’s going to be scrunched on the needles and hard to see for a while longer but I’m transitioning to the border so next to you see it, at least it’ll have new colors to look at!

In the meantime, let me tell you about Jimmy Beans new SmartStick knitting needle + tape measure combo.

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Firstly, because of the recent kerfuffle with Making Things, I’ll tell you, I paid for these needles because I wanted to try them.  I’m not being compensated for this review.  I’m not getting kickbacks.  There’s no affiliate links (or links at all.  If you decide you want the needles, I’m sure you’re clever enough to find them on your own!)

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So, the gimmick here (and yes, it is a total gimmick) is the needle has 1″ segments marked from tip to tip so it can double as a tape measure.

I’m firmly in the camp that says you measure with a ruler.  It’s the Elizabeth Zimmerman camp and she’s never wrong.  The logic here is you want the most accurate measurement and the firm edge of a ruler provides that.  Measuring flat on a table with a tape measure isn’t so bad but there’s still flexibility and wiggle room with that method.   Firm edge = best possible measurement.   Measuring with the floppy cord of a knitting needle (with knitting attached?) on your lap will never give you an accurate measurement.  I will never use this needle in that manner.  Seriously, I’m nixing this idea from the very beginning.

That said, I’ll step off my soap box and acknowledge that is not what the folks at Jimmy Beans are encouraging.  They say themselves on the package ‘for quick & dirty measuring on the go’.  Okay fine.

I’m really just in it for the needles.  I’m a die hard Addi fixed needle user.  I really do knit faster with the amazing Addi Turbo.  That’s not just lip service but I’m open to trying other needles.  One day something better than an Addi fixed may come along.   The SmartStix happen to be Knitter’s Pride needles, which I’ve never used.  There’s lots of things I like about it.

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The join is smooth.  The tip is pointy but not so pointy that I impale my thumb.  I’m an occasional pusher.  I don’t do it all the time but when I do, I don’t want a needle so sharp it hurts.  The 1″ segments along the barrel are joined nicely, they don’t catch or snag.  I like the foil packaging with the sturdy zip top.  I store my needles in their original packaging, clearly the intent of this bag.

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Personally, I prefer my needles a bit more slick.  In my mind, Addi’s are slick, not slippery.  If you think Addi’s are too slippery and you lose stitches off the end, you’ll enjoy the finish on these needles.  The feel of metal without the slipperiness.

The cord is soft and pliable despite being on the thick side.  It’s got a nice suppleness to it. It’s not stiff or inflexible.  I like the cord.  The markings on the needle barrel are engraved so no rubbing off.  I think the marks on the cord could wear off over time.  I tried my best to scratch one of the spots off with my finger nail.  I couldn’t so I think that bodes well for those who are into the tape measure gimmick.  It’ll require a lot of use before those marks show signs of wear and tear.

Ultimately, these are nice needles and the price is right.  I like them fine but they’ll never become my go to needles.  I wish they weren’t pink.  They’re color coded by cord length, 16″ are red, 24″ are blue, 32″ are green and 40″ are pink.  You get what you get.  40″ size 4 is my most used size so I went with it.  I’m sure it will get use…I always want to cast on another shawl.  I’m not rushing out to buy the interchangeable set or even another pair of the fixed needles though.

Now…on to that shawl edge!  I’m ready to tackle those 600 stitch rows!


 

A Triumphant Return!

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Etsy Holiday Emporium weekend is over!  The show was a big success!  I had a really great time talking to all the people who came by.  It was so fun to see people connect with my brand of snark and laugh at all the same things I laugh.  It’s nice to have your art appreciated but this went a step beyond that.  It was a big helping of personal validation and who doesn’t like that.  Even better than that though, now that it’s over…I can get back to my knitting!

It’s been a month of virtually no knitting, in prep for the show.  I was excited to get right down to it, casting on a hat to work on throughout the weekend.  I picked a fun little slip stitch pattern that’s easy to memorize but has a big impact.

And, it’s reversible!  Spotted on one side, striped on the other…super fun!

Here’s how it works, in the round…

Round 1: With color A, K1, P1

Rounds 2 & 3:  With color B, S1 wyib, P1, K1, P1

Round 4:  With color A, K1, P1

So, really only two rows, just knits, purls and an occasional slip stitch.  Super easy!

The other noteworthy feature of this hat, is the cast on.  I’m going to tell you about it and hope you’ll try it out too.  I really love it.  This is the Alternating Cable Cast On.

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I use it as a stand in for the Tubular Cast On.  The Alternating Cable Cast On is a lovely stretchy alternative that is easier and faster to execute.  I first learned it from Wooly Wormhead and she’s the goddess of hat, if there ever was one.  Here’s her tutorial for it, because she can surely give you the steps better than I can.

The basic explanation is this:  It’s the Cable Cast On with one change.  Instead of ‘knitting’ every stitch (inserting the needle from the front) you alternate between knit and purl (inserting the needle from the back).  It’s aptly named, the Alternating Cable Cast On…just a cable cast on that alternates between knits and purls, perfect for ribbing!

It’s a minor detail but I love minor details.  It’s the sort of thing that elevates homemade to handmade.  It’s a little bit of finesse that add to the polish of the finished hat tenfold!  I highly recommend it.

Of course, one hat didn’t last me long.  Day 2 of the show required another cast on…this time, I added a third color and went for a spiral knit stripey hat!

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And, just like that, Christmas knitting has begun.  Next up, an ugly Christmas sweater for my cute little nephew and a whole slew of new stuffie animal friends for him.  It’s gonna be so good!  So, stand by as we have now returned to our regular knitting agenda!   Wooooo!


 

WIP Wednesday

The progress on my Striped Esjan is slow but steady!  I’m nearly ready to make the switch from body to border.  I may have to stash dive again to come up with more color choices.  We’ll see…this sucker is definitely eating up the yarn!

I’m still spending most of my time preparing for the SFEtsy Holiday Emporium!  I feel a Bah Humbug coming on…

Here’s the details, if you’ll be in San Francisco Thanksgiving weekend!

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Now, back to the stitching and the booth building!  There’s still loads to be done!

A New WIP

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It’s been a busy week!  Without my cell phone camera roll, I’d never be able to remember it all!

Partially because I’ve imposed a ‘no knitting at home’ rule for myself as I prepare for the upcoming Etsy Holiday Emporium.  I’ve got lots of cross stitching to do and that doesn’t travel well.  It made the divide seem easy…cross stitch at home and then get my knitting fix with a travel project whenever I’m out and about.

Turns out, I really still want to knit and I’ve been able to come up with lots of excuses to leave the house!  LOL!

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When I left you last, I was contemplating this swatch.  It’s not bad but I wanted something better than ‘not bad’.  In a rush out the door, I grabbed a few half balls that were calling to me and this swatch was born.

It’s perfect – irresistible fall colors!  I could not wait to get my needles clicking on this one!  It’s a Stephen West shawl (of course!), Striped Esjan.  It’s been in my queue for a long time.  I’ve emulated it’s loopy edge is several of my own shawl explorations.  I’ve certainly thought about it enough.  It’s about time I actually knit one!

It’s been a great carry along project.  Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.  I’ve taken it to the movies, to the beach, to the park, several bars.  Yes, I’m finding plenty of excuses to take it out of the house.  So much for rules, eh?

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Sweater Weather

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Once I got beyond the sleeve divide, yesterday, it was smooth sailing.  I made it through the body of my nephew sweater no problem.  When I got the bottom, I added another feature, designed to aid in long term wearability.

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A split hem.  Hopefully this will allow little man to wear it longer.  I’m also going to extend the sleeves, so they can be rolled up and then unrolled as he grows.  Hopefully he’ll get to wear this one into the new year.   Fingers crossed!

Of course, it’s time to knit all the sweaters!  Sweater weather is the best.  I’ve got a holiday sweater in mind and he’s definitely going to need a grandpa sweater for the winter.  Maybe something with elbow patches.  I love a good elbow patch.

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For Throwback Thursday, I submit this photo of my favorite elbow patch sweater (taken 20 years ago next week, on my 21st birthday)!  You can’t see them, but rest assured, they were the perfect leather patches, soft and just the right color.  I loved this sweater…a lot.  I lost it at a blizzard party a few months after later.  I didn’t knit it, but still, I was saddened by it’s loss.  It was a great sweater.

Here’s another sweater with an interesting use of leather.  I spied it while watching Kingpin, the second best bowling movie of all time.  I’m undecided on whether it’s a great sweater but there is no doubt, it’s got an interesting construction.

 

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It’s got the leather panels down the front.  They evoke a certain time period, which is what they’re going for.  This is supposed to be a scene from the 70’s.  That’s not the interesting construction though.  Those cable bands are what caught my eye.  I think, they’re an appliqué, sewn on after the fact.  The band looks rather stiff.  The sweater shows folds from movement but the band is solid.

The close shot really confirms it for me.  You can see the base sweater and the cable band are distinct from each other.  The usual tension you’d see at the cable row is non-existent.  You get a clear look at the band too.  It’s not even really cable knit.  It’s two pieces twisted together and then sewn on.

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That is an interesting design choice.  Why would they do that?  Would a hand knitter do that?  No, I don’t think a hand knitter would.   I think it must be a decision based on industrial production.  I can’t imagine it’s a feature of design.  I’m going to assume it’s a feature of convenience.  What else could it be?

The longer I look at this one, the closer I get to declaring it a great sweater.  It certainly makes me think I should be checking goodwill for sweaters more often.  This would be a great vintage find!  Perhaps I’ve found my afternoon adventure…


 

 

WIP Wednesday – Tweed Season

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It’s only one tiny thing, in a long list of things but I fixed my knitting!  Wooo!  My tweedy nephew sweater is back on track!

It’s not often that I rip out all my progress and just start over but in this case, I’m glad I did.  The sleeve cap on this little sweater is so much better today than it was yesterday.

The good one is on the left.  The one I ripped out, on the right.  The difference between them is a matter of fit.  On the left the sleeve cap is a bit ‘puffy’ and on the right, it’s more sleek.  For myself, I’d pick the right sleeve cap but for a wiggly little baby, a roomy shoulder is a good thing.

With the raglan shaping done and the sleeves divided, it’s just stockinette in the round from here on out.  Happy place knitting!  Yaaaay!

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I’m really enjoying this yarn.  It’s KnitPicks (relatively) new yarn, Provincial Tweed.   It’s a superwash Highland Wool but I’m not hating the superwash.  There’s really no way around superwash when it comes to baby clothes so I’m just enjoying the softness of the yarn, it’s lovely sheen and the fun tweed.

I’m not convinced the tweed bits will last through a machine wash cycle.  They’re very loosely spun, in most cases.  I’ll definitely get my sister to report back to me on that.  She’s a maniac when it comes to doing laundry.  When we were kids, the washing machine broke one day and it never got fixed.  We spent the next decade carting our laundry to a laundromat…10 miles away.   And, we never had a dryer.  Line drying was the norm.  I think the ‘novelty’ of having a washer and dryer right in the house never wears off.   At least, for me, it hasn’t.  There are loads of chores I hate but I don’t mind doing laundry.  Doing laundry is mostly sitting around waiting for the machine to finish.  I am very good at that.

So, tangent aside, I’m confident this sweater will get a trip through the washing machine and I’ll get a report on how well it wears.  It could certainly be a contender for more fall sweaters as the nephew grows.  It’s not fall, if you don’t have a tweed sweater to wear!

 

As for my wordpress/photo problem…That’s a work in progress too.  It seems like lots of people have tech issues when it comes to image display and loading.  I’ve now done all the basic re-boot stuff, cleared my cache, etc.  Hopefully some of that helps.  I’m gonna work my cross stitch gallery a bit this afternoon, should be a good test.