Knitting Catch Up

I have been in somewhat of a knitting funk since opening Stash last month.  Overwhelmed with all the lovely yarn and patterns crossing the threshold of the shop, I have found that committing to one project is nearly impossible.  I have been casting on and swatching for a lot of things, but oftentimes rip them out and head back to the search.  When there’s so much of a good thing around, it can be difficult to narrow one’s focus.  So I’m trying to go with my knitter’s intuition and just cast on when the mood strikes, knit with abandon, and enjoy every stitch.  This also means that I haven’t really been finishing much…

Max is curled up on my open laptop while I listen, sip, and knit.

I have been on a cast on spree for both shop and personal knitting. These past two days off from work have been really productive knit-wise.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with PB’s Cowgirl Butterfly Astronaut Vest, and at this moment I just need to complete the second sleeve ruffle and the button band.  I also cast on for the Cambrian Cowl from Coastal Knits in Imperial Yarn Native Twist.  That bulky yarn is just flying off the needles, and is now waiting for me to pick up stitches and knit the flared yoke portion at the bottom.

While working on these two projects, I have also been catching up on podcasts (Stash and Burn, Knitmore Girls) and television (The Walking Dead season 2).  It feels really good to spend some time catching up on these simple activities in between the tasks and concerns of everyday life.  What are you watching or listening to as you knit this week?

The Dish on Petrie

Although I finished the knitting of this top a while ago, I just got around to sewing up the seams and doing the other finishing touches last week.  There was no reason to procrastinate: the seaming was quite fast!  All in all, I think it turned out great, and I’m sorry I didn’t finish it before the weather turned chilly.

 

  • Pattern: Petrie, by Beautia Dew for Knitty {free pattern}, Ravelled here.
  • Yarn: Rowan RYC Luxury Cotton DK in color 259, 7 balls/728 yards
  • Needles: US size 7/4.5 mm
  • Mods: I made some easy changes to knit this in the round, creating a faux seam at each side; used kitchener stitch to graft shoulder seams together; did a single crochet around the finished armholes.

This was not a quick knit for me, mainly because its simplicity led to easy distraction by other projects.  The color may have had something to do with my lack of focus as well; black is a very practical wardrobe choice, but a little plain when it comes to knitting.  You know how I tend to favor bright colors!  The yarn color was a bit boring, but this yarn was wonderful to knit with.  It was almost buttery to knit, and the resulting fabric is soft and supple.  I thought it would grow more during blocking, though.  In fact, I was counting on it, as the top may be just a smidge too short in the torso for me.

The pattern for Petrie is written to be knit flat in two pieces.  I decided early on that this would be a good candidate to convert for knitting in the round. You can read all the specific details for how I did this here.  It worked out very well, the only hitch being when I missed that the increases for the front drapey panel were to begin before the armholes.  Mine start at the same time, and while I initially fretted over this I decided it didn’t really make that much difference in the end.  Besides, by the time I was at that point, this top had been on the needles for months and there was no way I was ripping back!

I was inspired to get this finished in short order by the ladies over at Stash and Burn who are doing a Slog-Along through the end of the year to resolve some unfinished knits. I had 2 projects from the summer that weren’t finished (Petrie and my Hamamelis shawl).  It feels great to have this project finished and folded up in my closet.  It frees up some space, both literally and in my knitting life.  Now I feel free to choose another largish “me” project like a sweater I can finish just in time for summer.  Any suggestions?

 

Bet You Can’t Knit Just One

Not much to report on this Monday.  We had a quiet weekend full of relaxing, completing some little projects around the house, movie watching, and some sewing and bib-knitting.  Seriously, I cannot stop knitting cotton bibs.  I don’t know what has come over me, whether it’s the Lays potato chip phenomenon (“Bet you can’t knit just one”), or an inability to focus on anything other than garter stitch, but it’s out of control.  I have literally pulled all the cotton out of my stash and put it next to my knitting chair and am methodically knitting my way through it.  When I realized I had a skein each of white, cream, and a different shade of cream left, I had to go out and buy some colors to go with all those neutrals.  And thus the cycle continues.

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My main knitting spot.

After listening to the most recent episode of Stash and Burn, I am feeling validated in this approach.  Not only am I using up more yarn than I have purchased (at least for this particular project set), I am ostensibly getting a head start on Single Skein September.  This is a little thing they do over there each September which urges listeners to knit smaller projects to use up some of the single skeins in our stashes.  I’m fairly sure I participated last year by knitting one neck-warmer after another.  Hmmm…another knitting phase I went through…

Anyway, I am thinking about participating since all I can really handle these days is the smaller, instant-gratification type knits.  Plus, I have plenty of single skeins in my stash that I have accumulated over the last year.  I even have some single skeing projects on the needles that I would like to finish up in September, so any way you look at it I’ll be playing along.  If you want to play too, go over to the Stash and Burn Groupies group on Ravelry and check it out.  There will be prizes…

Gratitude

I have received a generous outpouring of kindness and support this past week, both in the comments and via email.  Thank you.  It has really made a difference for me during a very difficult time to go onto the computer and read your thoughtful, friendly, and often funny comments.   Your responses were welcome and much-needed.

From Sweetie

From Sweetie

Unfortunately I have no finished objects to show you.  I had hoped to finish a sock this week, but a vicious stomach virus attacked me and I was literally unable to stand or sit up straight for two days.  Knitting was not, for once, at the front of my mind.  I did catch up on some great podcasts while I was laid up, among them Cast-On, Stash & Burn, and my new favorite, Craft Lit.

Heather Ordover does a wonderful job of combining literary discussion with her craft life, then plays a chapter or two from a classic novel each episode.  Since I just started listening, I jumped in with the most recent book, Jekyll & Hyde.  It’s fantastic!  I’m almost certain that I would find the text a little dry if I were reading this myself, but the guy doing the reading has a deliciously wry British accent that punctuates this Gothic tale to perfection.  The book seems to be wrapping up, and next will be The Scarlet Letter.  This is turning into a wonderful way to be entertained while knitting, walking the dog, or cleaning house, while at the same time getting a brief education on some classic literature.  Love it.

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Now that I’m on the mend, I have been focusing my attention on finishing up the Queen of Beads socks from the STR sock club.  I’m about halfway finished with the second sock and look forward to grafting that toe closed in a couple of days.  Believe it or not, I have the opposite of Second Sock Syndrome right now, a syndrome in which I feel highly motivated to finish both pairs of socks I have lying around.  Maybe it’s more of that urge to spring clean, start with a clean slate or something. Whatever it is, I’m giving in to the feeling and getting socks off the needles!

Stash Reduction Rundown

I have been thinking about how much yarn I used up last month.  It felt like I was knitting constantly, both for myself, the craft fair, and a charity project.  Not only did I knit a lot of yarn, I also had the opportunity to trade and donate some to other knitters.  So just how much yarn did I take care of in September?

  • I knit approximately 982 yards of yarn into 7 finished objects.

  • I donated 350 yards of sock yarn to the 7 Long Knits Prize pool.

  • I traded 1,315 yards of stash to other knitters and received 648 yards in return for a net loss of 667 yards.

In total, I reduced my stash by 1,999 yards!!!

So I promptly went out and bought 6 skeins of Malabrigo and a ball of sock yarn to celebrate.  Let’s call it even, shall we?

Are you on any sort of yarn buying restriction or stashdown?

What are your goals, tips, and tricks?

Birth Announcement & Weekend Knitting

I sat down this morning with the intention of writing about knitting.  But something else is on my mind, something decidedly unrelated to knitting in any way. I’m so excited!

Some of you may remember that back in August I was able to set up a new 45-gallon freshwater fish tank.  This was a big step up from my 10 gallon tank, and I have been having so much fun with my fish.  This weekend I went out and bought 2 breeding pairs of mollies, and one of the females was very pregnant.

These fish belong to a group called live bearers, which means the eggs hatch inside the body and the fry are born fully developed.  I have been watching the female very closely over the past two days.  This morning when I got up, I noticed that she was much less bloated than before.  So I started looking around in the plants and gravel and immediately started seeing little fish fry looking back at me!  They are miniature versions of their adult parents, about 1/2 an inch long.  So far I have discovered somewhere between 3 & 5 babies.  Cross your fingers that they make it; these fish are carnivorous…

Okay, so you’ve made it this far.  I suppose you deserve some knitting after reading about my new additions!  I decided to take a break from craft fair knitting this weekend and cast on a new project instead. My first beret, and first top down hat:

This is the One Day Beret by Kirsten Kapur.  What’s great about this pattern is that it is more of a recipe that you can adapt to suit any yarn or gauge.  You kind see it on her blog or on Ravelry.

I originally started this with a hot pink skein of Cascade 220 Superwash, but didn’t like the solid color.  One of the things I loved about the photos I saw on Kapur’s blog was the variegated yarn she used.  So I went to my stash and waited for something to catch my eye.  Out popped 2 skeins of Claudia’s Hand-painted merino sock yarn in Passion Fruit.  I’m holding 2 strands together and using size 4 needles for my beret.

This is a great stashbuster for any odd skeins you have lying around.  And if you don’t have any particular need to knit a beret for yourself or as a gift, consider donating it to Stash and Burn’s project for 7 Long Knits.  Scroll down to episode 58 for details on how you can help comfort some pediatric oncology patients through knitting or crochet.

And because I was going through sock withdrawl, I also cast on a pair of basic socks using Sockotta’s self-fair-isle yarn.  It’s a very relaxing knit, simple stockinette, but the yarn keeps it interesting.

I love smart yarn!

Time to go check on my little Fry Guys.

Stash Flash

I’ve been listening to the Stash and Burn podcasts lately (see previous post) and have been contemplating the stash habits of knitters. This knitter, in particular. I thought I had a lot of yarn, but apparently I am a mouse among giants with a stash count on Ravelry of 20.

Here it is, my meager stash:

stash1.jpg

I also have 12 skeins of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky waiting to be made into a sweater:

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As a monogamous knitter, I don’t buy much yarn. I like to only buy yarn for a specific project, knit it up, and not have any leftovers. If it sits around for too long, I start to feel a little anxious, a little trampy. The yarn calls out to me with snide comments like “I’ve been sitting in this box since August; when are you going to knit with me?” and “I thought you were going to knit socks next.”

Since I started going to a local Stitch ‘n Bitch meetup next to a yarn store, my stash numbers have increased. We’ll sit and knit for a couple of hours, then an innocent-acting enabler will casually ask “Is anyone going over to the yarn store?” More often than not, we’ll all walk over together to ooh and ahh and fondle the new yarn and books. Some weeks, we all leave with bags bursting with wool, and a spring in our collective step. Other weeks, no one buys anything.

Personally, I am on a small yarn diet. I told myself that when my yarn box was full I couldn’t buy yarn until there was a place for it. That means I must knit before I buy. Of course, there is the small matter of my leftover vase…

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What’s a girl to do with all these bits and pieces of yarn? Knitting the Jingle Bell collar helped a tiny bit, and there’s plenty of cotton to make a couple of washcloths. But what else is there? What do you do with your scrap yarn?

And while I’m showing you the inner sanctum of my knitting habits, here’s a flash of my needle collection:

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I use wood and bamboo double points and circular needles for just about everything I knit. The straight needles are leftovers from when I first started knitting and thought I’d be thrifty by buying cheap plastic needles. I don’t think I’ve knit anything more than a single washcloth and hat on them! My most recent acquisition is the Harmony sock needle set from Knit Picks.

Oh, how quickly we knitters learn to favor the finer things.

Knitting is Really Cutting Into My Knitting Time.

I can’t stop thinking about knitting.

And yet I don’t seem to be knitting all that much.

I’m addicted to virtual knitting, or reading about yarn, patterns, and other people’s projects online. Blogs, Ravelry, Knitty, etc. have me transfixed, and instead of using my spare moments to knit a few rows, I use them to read about knitting. Here is my daily reading list:

Ravelry

Knit & Tonic

The Yarn Harlot

Lolly Knitting Around

Of course, as I read these, I am inevitably drawn into other websites, increasing the amount of time I spend reading about knitting. I love to see photos of yarn, works in progress, new patterns, and can never stop at just one.

I think I’ll blame Ravelry. You see, this all started when I got my invite into the coven of knitting. First, I loaded all my FOs into the site, then joined a few groups, then started looking for new things to knit, and got distracted by links to people’s blogs, and before long, an hour or a week or, in my case 2 months have passed with very little knitting to show for it all. Actually, I have been really good about finishing projects more quickly because I am excited to post them onto this blog, or change the status on my project page in Ravelry.

To make matters worse (or better, depending) I just discovered knitting podcasts. If the cleanliness of my house, the balance of my checkbook, and the neatness of my laundry basket haven’t suffered enough, they’re about to. Of course, the upside to listening to podcasts is that you can do other things at the same time. Ideally, you could knit. Or you can listen while you work, drive, fold laundry, or grocery shop (people looked at me and my earbuds a little strangely today at Stop & Shop). Podcasts are also a great friend when you can’t sleep at night but want to stay in bed.

I’m currently working my way through all the episodes of Stash and Burn. Their conversational style is easy to listen to while doing other things, and there’s ample information about knitting, their projects, yarn, etc. These girls are smart, funny, and interesting to listen to. And the music is fun too.

Also enjoyable is the new podcast, Yarncraft. These ladies are also enjoyable to listen to, once you get past all the adverts for Lion Brand yarn and the NYC background noise. They recently had a long interview with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee which was wonderful.

Knitpicks has a very informative podcast as well, but I find Kelly Petkun’s reading a little hard to listen to. She is clearly reading aloud, and she does so very slowly. But the content is rich and educational.

So this is what’s keeping me from my knitting (and household chores) lately. Perhaps this is why my lace scarf is progressing so very slowly…