How do you turn your ideas into finished items? I use sheets of notebook paper and a calculator. I do say “sheets” because it often takes a few goes before pretty yarn turns into a pretty finished object. These mittens were a request. The recipient wanted gray and definitely mittens. Additionally, one of the recipient’s hands is an inch shorter than the other, making it hard to find commercially-made mittens because they need the right amount of stretch to accommodate two sizes. Knitter to the rescue!

It took me a bit of time to find a gray I liked. I found the yarn at Stitches West 2018. It marinated more than a year (ugh!), then I set to it with swatches and notes. I used 4 needle sizes in my swatches and fiddled with different possible stitch patterns. Here is the last swatch:

2019-05-19_Mamas-graue-Fausthandschuhe_swatching_WIP

I did some in the round and some back and forth, and finally settled on size 2 needles and Fluted Rib from Barbara Walker’s “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.” The recipient is a hiker, and with gray yarn I wanted something a little rock-y and a little reflective of the literal ups and downs of tackling a mountain on foot, plus I needed a row repeat that could be shortened without looking like a mistake. Here is a progress shot with lifelines and stitch markers in place at key points:

2019-05-31_Mamas-graue-Fausthandschuhe_WIP

I only had to rip back to lifelines twice while figuring out the rate of increases for the thumb. Added bonus: you can dive right into Fluted Rib, no other ribbing needed to keep the cuff from curling. Once mitten #1 was done, the second was a breeze. The tight gauge and yarn’s bit of nylon content means these will wear well even with a life of grasping hiking poles. Here they are, done:

2019-06-02_Mamas-graue-Fausthandschuhe-2

2019-06-02_Mamas-graue-Fausthandschuhe-1

Pattern: own
Yarn: 139 yards Backyard Fiberworks Meadow, 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon, color: Stormcloud
Needles: US size 2
Started 5/19 and finished 6/2/2019

They fit well (see photographic evidence!) and the recipient likes them. And her hiking friends do, too. Success!

 

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Getting the lid on the scraps bin became a chore; it was time to dive in and see what I had. Mostly I have been sorting small piles of similar weights and playing with color combinations every time I walk past. Sorting is all well and good, but you must cast on if you plan to reduce volume. The box of finished baby booties needed replenishment, the bin yielded a lot of suitable material, and booties make perfect bus knitting, so this is what I did during commute in July:

2019-07-28_Booties-x-7

Pattern: own
Yarns: South West Trading Company TOFUtsies (green/tan), Hikoo Sueño (red), Plymouth Dreambaby DK (pale aqua), Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply (bright blue), JaggerSpun Cotton-Wool 3/10 (red/white marl), Dale of Norway Baby Ull (bright yellow), Schoeller Esslinger Fortissima (navy blue), KnitPicks Essential (blue) and Stroll (brown), and some random pale yellow acrylic/nylon
Needles: US size 2
Started 6/25 and finished 7/28/2019

I am sorry the Sueño is now all used up; that was lovely to work with. The bin holds the promise of more booties in the future, but now I’m enamored of possible worsted weight combinations for mittens.

In non-fiber news, the juvenile scrub jays (I’m certain they’re scrub and not stellar’s) apparently love to come see what I’m doing when I go out on the fire escape, even if I’m shaking out rugs. This one sat some 15 inches away and posed nicely:

2019-07-06_juvenile-scrub-jay_1_visiting-me

 

I think I coined a word there in the title of this post, but really, why do knitters knit a cozy for an inanimate object? Because we can! I have made many a drawstring bag for small objects that needed protection from the elements.

In this case, I bought a fancy wee travel-size teleidoscope and I did not want its glass lens to pick up scratches as it travels with me in my bag, getting too friendly with pens and keys. Knitting to the rescue! I grabbed a bit of leftover handspun and about 45 minutes later (resizing held things up), I had bag:

2019-06-02_Teleidoscope-bag

Pattern: k2p2
Yarn: about 5 yards of my 2-ply handspun merino from Royal Hare that I spun in 2006, color Santa Rosa Plum
Needles: US size 3
Made 6/2/2019

I am very happy with how it turned out, especially since I used what I consider sub-par yarn. I learned to spin in 1999 but only spun a little about once a year in those early years (and wondered why my skills didn’t improve), and I find it interesting how even one’s beginning spinning can look great when knitted up.

I set down the Otto pullover, unfinished, in August because the sofa needs a spot of color and, naturally, I have to go about it in the most time-consuming manner possible:

2018-09-19_Peacock-needlepoint_WIP

No evening knitting for weeks while I stitched every night. I have it about 75% done now; I am a slow needlepointer.

In September, I was finally able to spin again after a hiatus. I sprained my left ankle back on May 10, not 24 hours into vacation and in Luxembourg, because a holiday is more fun when you are hobbling on cobblestones in foreign countries as a newbie on crutches, and struggling to get in and out those weird shower stalls that are some 14 inches off the floor and have no handholds, using only one leg. Did you know sprains come in varying degrees? Mine was rather dramatic because my ligament snapped (my mom, some 20 yards ahead of and facing away from me: “Did you hear that? What was that noise?”) and I was on crutches until August 22 and on a single crutch until just 12 days ago; physical therapy ends in 2 weeks. Thank goodness the rental car was an automatic so I could keep up my half of the driving. And thank goodness I had my teal boots with me. Those boots were my friends because they have a side zipper and laces, so easy to get in and out of and the laces could accommodate Mr. Puffy, the Ankle of Doom. For months, spinning while standing was impossible because my hands were too full and my balance no good, and trying to pedal the wheel wasn’t any good, either. My mom captured a moment of me doing a wee bit of spindling while standing on my good leg while we waited our turn to get on the car ferry over the Elbe as we headed toward Denmark:

2018-05-13_P1080888_waiting-for-the-ferry

Zoom in and you can see the Invisible Spindle Effect, which I think is way cool. It’s not invisible in its reflection in the car door; odd, no? My moving hands look just plain creepy in the photo.

Starting up spinning again meant I had to face the fact that the gargantuan bag of handspun-I-collect-because-if-I-use-it-it-will-be-gone-and-it-can’t-be-replaced is so full that I can barely zip it, so I decided to try to make a dent in that stash. Behold, the hat:

2018-09-19_Cosmopolitan-rice-stitch-hat_WIP

This was ideal bus knitting and is finished but not blocked or photographed, and I’m now on the 4th hat using handspun yarn. Even though it’s older spinning and therefore not so even as my more recent work, the finished products are turning out lovely and I’m pleased. Plus… mmm… my yarn!

And as a final knitting distraction besides vacation and injury and needlepoint, early October was the 10-year anniversary of when Mr. MmmYarn was diagnosed with leukemia, and it’s where my brain has been for probably the last 7 weeks or so. Just replaying decade-old events in a merciless loop. Toss in some wishing it could have all gone differently, and, sigh. There is nothing to be done. I will distract myself tonight with a cheesy movie, a glass of wine, and the last of the background behind the peacock’s feathers.

Bus knitting yesterday plus a bit of Laundromat knitting today means the Otto pullover is moving along. Here’s progress:

2018-07-21_Otto-pullover_WIP

I staged the project on the needles in this photo so you could see the right side and the wrong side of the work at the same time. On the right side, you see how the purple peeks through the charcoal a little, creating a slightly tweedy effect. It looks like a mistake in the first few rows, but once it’s an allover pattern, it looks deliberately tweedy. The wrong side shows just how many times I have to trap the yarn for this Armenian knitting technique. It’s a wee bit slower than stranded knitting is for me, but I find it easier to keep the tension consistent than I would have for 8-stitch floats. Onward!

Oh, and have you seen Ravelry’s new Index tab on your Projects page? It’s fabulous!

I noodled around with a few skeins of yarn on the bus today, trying to decide on color combinations and technique for my next project, the Otto pullover. It’s supposed to be worked stranded, but the design has floats up to 8 stitches long and I’m concerned little fingers will get caught in the strands. Not that that’s a tragedy, but I don’t want to make it harder for a parent to wrangle a child into a garment.

Color-wise, I settled on charcoal with purple:

2018-07-17_Otto-swatch-right-side_WIP

For stranding technique, Armenian knitting (I have the book from Schoolhouse Press) produced the result I liked best.

2018-07-17_Otto-swatch-wrong-side_WIP

You can see 4 rows of stranding with 3-stitch floats before the top part with the purple yarn trapped every other stitch; that’s the Armenian knitting bit, lots of trapping. Gauge is 7 stitches to the inch (a little big for size 2 needles, but that’s normal when you’re trapping like this) and I like how the fabric feels. You see long loose strands because I worked the swatch with only the right side facing to emulate working in the round.

On the ride home, I cast on for the ribbing and got going. This is a perfect bus knitting project so will progress relatively quickly.

Last May (gads, it has been more than a year), I took a kumihimo braiding class with instructor Karen Huntoon at the CNCH conference at Asilomar. I haven’t written about it here yet because it took me yonks to take photos of the finished items, but it was great fun and easy to learn. And today is the day to share! The first day, we did some practice bits with a bundle of random colors we each were given:

2017-05-05_a_Kumihimo-first-attempts

Then launched immediately into learning how to add beads to the braid to produce an edge bead necklace:

2017-05-05_d_Kumihimo-first-project_Edge-Bead-Necklace

On day 2, we made a more complicated spiral bead necklace, which I ended up having to un-braid and re-do the following week because I saw I missed a bunch of beads, which spoiled the spiral effect. It turned out well the second time, every bead in place:

2017-05-15_Kumihimo-2nd-project_blended-bead-necklace-P1020787

And on day 3, which was only a half-day session, we made a smaller project, a spiral ridge bracelet:

2017-05-07_Kumihimo-3rd-project-Spiral-bracelet

Since then, whenever I need a cord or drawstring, I grab some yarn and the kumihimo disk and go for it. I did not take photos of any of these, but the lanyard for my staff badge at work is pretty stylish in a striped red and orange silk/mohair blend.

I felt nervous about 2/3 of the way through the bind-off row despite my friend’s assurances that it looked like I had enough yarn. She was right — I finished off the shawl and had gray yarn left, hooray!

2018-06-18_Mystery-Shawl-wins-at-yarn-chicken

A yarn chicken triumph!

 

Well, here I am once more playing yarn chicken with this same project you saw at the end of April. You would almost think I did this on purpose for the sheer joy of having even more knitting time with this lovely yarn (Annapurna from A Verb For Keeping Warm, which is indeed divine to work with). Think again, readers!

Mystery Shawl 6 WIP

The little pile of remaining gray has to last for 6 more rows plus the bind-off, about 3600 stitches total. I have my doubts but will soldier on. If it lasts only the 6 rows, I’m happy to bind off with orange just to see this shawl complete.

 

 

Spinning with friends

While it is possible they were admiring my technique or wondering which salon they needed to go to to get their locks dyed just such a color, it turns out they were lining up to use the bench as a scratching post. One of the lambs played with my shoe and pants cuff a bit; the sheep here are all accustomed to humans wandering in their meadows and get pretty close.

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