FO: Shalom!

With the timely arrival of some rescue yarn, I was able to finish my Shalom cardigan in about 2 weeks.  This was a fast, satisfying knit that should be a perfect transition piece as winter turns to spring.

  • Pattern: Shalom by Meghan McFarlane (free pattern and ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Cascade Covington in color 05, 3 skeins and a few yards of a leftover skein from a friendly knitter on Ravelry
  • Needles: US size 10 1/2, 6.5mm
  • Mods: The big modes: I cast on 77 stitches, giving the extra stitches to the body; made 3 buttonholes. More details on my Rav project page.

Here you can see just how much I changed the sleeves.  By adding stitches to the body and taking them away from the sleeves, I was able to close up the big gap that is shown in the original pattern.  When it was time to separate the sleeves from the body, I put them on waste yarn instead of binding off.  Then I went back and knit garter stitch to match the bottom hem.  This made for a bit more work, but I think it fits better and looks nicely polished..

The yarn, though beautiful, was a bit tough to work with.  It’s not bouncy and stretchy like pure wool, and the fact that I only had bamboo needles in the right size gave me problems.  The yarn stuck to the wood, so I had to push and pull it a lot which hurt my hands.  I thought buying the Addi Clicks last year would save me these needle woes, but the sizes are a bit different in millimeters, and I needed the 6.5 to get a gauge I liked.  Bamboo needles have their place, but knitting a bulky acrylic-blend yarn is not one of them!

And about that 3rd buttonhole: I only had 2 buttons!  This is a set of purple ceramic buttons I bought at Joann’s years ago that happened to match the purple in the yarn beautifully.  When I went back to the store to see if they had more, I was disappointed to see that while they still carry the same style of buttons, they did not have my color.  And so I ask you, dear readers: do you happen to have one of these buttons kicking around in your stash?  I would be willing to make a button trade.  This turns out to be my sweater of need as this is the second time I’ve asked for help finishing it! Humbling, indeed.

Yarn Along:: Knit Faster and Read More Books!

I’m playing Yarn Along with Ginny at Small Things again this week:

I have been knitting monogamously on Shalom since last week, determined to finish it up before I get distracted with another project.  The bulky yarn and straightforward pattern make knitting a speedy pleasure, and when I took this photo I was about 2 inches away from binding off the body.  But I was running low on yarn…  Naturally, I knit as fast as I possibly could in an attempt to finish the sweater before running out of yarn.  No such luck.  I have just a few rows of garter stitch left to knit at the hem and sleeves, and it hardly seems worth it to go out and buy another $12 skein of yarn.  Fortunately for me, a fellow knitter on Ravelry graciously agreed to send me her leftovers!  Aren’t knitter just the most generous people?

Perhaps because I have been knitting monogamously, I’ve been jumping from book to book.  I’m almost finished with last week’s book, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. It’s getting a little long for me, so over the weekend I started a new book.  All the Way Home is a memoir about a man and his family living through a major DIY home renovation.  He has an eye for design and the stubborn desire to do it all himself, which seems to put their family in some pretty interesting situations.  Then there was that 40% off Borders coupon that led me straight into the arms of the lovely New England Knits. There are some really nice sweaters in this book, and I’ve been flipping through its pages, daydreaming about what to knit next.  And finally, I cracked open The Happiest Toddler on the Block, a companion book to The Happiest Baby on the Block.  The latter book was a huge help in the early weeks of parenthood when we had no idea why this baby was doing what she was doing.  Karp’s 5 S’s for soothing and helping baby sleep (shushing sounds, swaying, swaddling, sucking, and side/stomach position) were an essential part of our success with PB in the first few months of life.  I’m hoping the toddler book will provide similar insights as to what my delightful little whirlwind of a toddler is up to!

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Of This & That

button bin at Stitches, all a-jumble like my brain today!

Some thoughts, updates, and bits of information, list style:

Knitting& Crafty Goodness

  1. After yesterday’s post, I took another look at Shalom and realized things weren’t as bad as I had made them out to be. My errors weren’t irreparable, and after just a few minutes I was back in the fast lane.  Today I will divide for the sleeves and get going on some soothing stockinette.  This is likely where I will be distracted by a new project, but that’s the way I roll.
  2. I happened across a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop dvd at the library last week, and have been enjoying her antics every afternoon.  PB’s naptime finds me on the couch with a cup of tea, my knitting, and EZ.  I thought there wouldn’t be too many surprises, but that lady has shaken the ground on a few things I knew for certain to be true.  For instance, did you know you could just throw in a backward loop cast on stitch as an increase, avoiding the fuss of those pesky m1’s?
  3. There’s a new issue of Rhythm of the Home up!  There’s also a new issue of Mothering out, and they have announced they will not be publishing print editions anymore.  Sad, but a sign of these digital times, I suppose.
  4. Kathy over at While Tangerine Dreams has been up to a whole lotta creative goodness.  Go check out her new Dream Consulting and Backwoods Mama Sewing Camp.  That lady is such a delightful inspiration! Kathy, I’m waiting for Backwoods Mama summer camp at your house!

Health & Home

  1. Throughout the course of this winter, I was sick a lot.  This is unusual for me: I maybe get a cold once a season.  I attribute my seemingly constant battle with one sickness or another to three things: poor sleep, increased exposure to germs at “kiddie” places, and lack of consistent exercise.  Having a little one in the house changes so many things, and one of the big things is how the parents care for themselves.  It is so common for women to put themselves last on the To Care For list, isn’t it?  I thought I was doing a good job of carving out creative time and practicing self-care.  The fact of the matter is, I have felt physically run down for months.  In an attempt to jumpstart my return to a more balanced, strong physical self, I will be participating in  a 30 Day vegan Challenge.  The idea of having a group of like-minded people working through this at the same time is comforting, and there will be recipes, support, and resources all along the way.  Let me make a couple of things clear: my intention is not to become full-on vegan, nor will I be imposing an animal-free diet on anyone else in my home.  It just so happens that Sweetie is on-board with eating vegan at home (she is at the mercy of my chef’s knife, after all), and is supportive of me and my goals.  It starts Monday; hopefully 3 days in we won’t be sneaking around or fighting over PB’s yogurt and cheese!
  2. I keep seeing other bloggers writing about all the time and thought they are putting into their gardens.  We have 3 large raised beds in our backyard and 2 small ones in front of our rental house, and I would love to grow some veggies.  Trouble is, I have no idea where to start!  Until I saw this rash of fertile blog posts, I thought I could just go down to the nursery once it got a bit warmer and just choose the things I’d like to eat and stick them in the ground.  I need your book and website recommendations, seasoned gardening advice, and general good wishes.
  3. Peaceful Baby is entering into a new phase where she is not so peaceful all the time.  Tantrums have arrived; I am amazed at the intensity of her reaction when I gently tell her no. There are tears, throwing of objects, raking of nails.  Fortunately, these little people are excellent at living in the moment and moving on quickly from intense moments.  I could learn something from PB’s ability to let things go and enjoy life as it comes.

That’s all for today!  Do you feel better after putting your thoughts down on paper (or blog) like I do?

Yarn Along:: Shalom, Shalom

Playing along with Ginny from Small Things again this week:

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is a frank glimpse into the life of its author, a savvy, acerbic, intellectual who was raised in a traditional Mennonite household. It is told in a way that both points fun at and honors her upbringing, as well as her own role in some of the large setbacks in her life. It’s witty and heartfelt, and full of vocabulary that’s giving me a run for my money! I enjoy memoirs told with glaring honesty, a bit of wit, and lot of heart, and this book certainly fits the bill.

***

You all know about knitting fantasy lives, right? This is a place where you go when you need to saturate yourself with the wonders of wool, the possibilities of patterns, and the idea that you can knit whatever you desire with the endless amount of free time at your disposal. It’s a lovely place. I most often go there when I am nowhere near my wool and needles. I also spend a lot of time in knitting fantasy land when i am in the trenches of a project that, for one reason or another, isn’t fun any more.

Most recently, the Shalom cardigan was the object of my fantastical knitting desires. I imagined it knitting up in no time, what with the bulky yarn and chunky needles. The yarn I would knit it in would be lofty and luscious, saturated with color, and a blend of wool so as to be a great transitional piece for spring.  I spent way too much time combing through project details on Ravelry, honing the modifications I planned on making.  I spent time daydreaming about knitting and then wearing Shalom over a long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans as I played outside with PB in the damp spring air. It was all very idyllic, and I was convinced this was the sweater to knit next.

And yet, almost as soon as I started knitting it, I sensed something wasn’t measuring up to my expectations. I think it’s the yarn, but I’m a bit loathe to admit that, considering I splurged on it at my LYS mere days before going to Stitches. The yarn in question is Cascade Covington, and it’s a blend of wool and acrylic. I fell in love with the colors: rich teal with bits of amethyst and sage. It’s lovely to look at, and when you touch it you can almost convince yourself it feels like it’s made mostly of wool. (Here’s where having a rich knitting fantasy life can come in handy: denial takes the form of imagination, and you can convince yourself nearly anything is true!) Once I got it on my needles, the truth of the matter became squeaky clear: there is a lot of acrylic in this blend (47% to be exact) and I don’t love the way it feels. But I love the color, and I love the pattern, and I kept knitting. Then I messed up the increase row. Both of them.  I know I need to rip back, but this wasn’t part of my dream! Into time out this sweater went, and I have since cast on a pair of Thuja socks and started swatching my cotton blend yarns and daydreaming of the all the airy summer tops I’m going to knit up.

What are you reading or fantasizing about knitting?

Sha-Kon-O-Hey

Well, it happened again.  I went out of town and this whole blogging thing really slipped my mind.  Of course, I didn’t take my laptop to Tennessee, assuming our cabin in the mountains would not have any sort of Internet connection.  Knitters, was I wrong!  Not only did this place have wireless, it had a hot tub, a flat-screen television in every bedroom, and super comfy beds.  This was not exactly what I had pictured when we decided to join in on a family reunion in the Great Smoky Mountains!

At sunrise
At sunrise

I took a new knitting project along with me, hoping to have a break through and get excited about knitting again.  To do this, I turned to an old friend, Ishbel.  Though I had made the pattern before, it turned out a little small and I wanted to try again in a bigger size.

IMG_1300

Time spent away from TV and the Internet left me with plenty of moments with the kids, or knitting on the porch in a rocking chair enjoying the Sha-Kon-O-Hey of the smoky blues.  I was able to finish the stockinette portion of Ishbel and was feeling pretty excited about it.

Then I got home and back onto Ravelry and well…let’s just say I got distracted.  Add the bible of fall knitting, Interweave Knits, into the mix and I am in a conundrum.  What to knit?  I feel uninspired by socks for the moment, something I didn’t think I’d say just a few months ago.  The overwhelming urge to knit anything for baby hasn’t hit yet, though I keep looking at patterns and my stash… That leaves me thinking maybe I should knit myself a cardigan for fall/winter, something that buttons at the top and drapes open a la Juliet, Shalom, or Liesl.  Any suggestions?

And just for fun:

Giant pickle at Dollywood...who could resist?
Giant pickle at Dollywood…who could resist?

Have a great weekend, y’all!