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I think we’ve all heard of the Rhinebeck sweater — the event gets lots of attention out there in blog-land, with many knitters writing of their attempts to finish a new sweater in time to wear it for the first time there in New York, plus now there’s a book all about it. I haven’t heard of the Stitches West (or any Stitches) sweater but it might be out there. Me, I try to wear something I’ve made since the last SW and possibly including yarn I bought at the last SW so I can show it to the vendor and shopping buddies. This year’s super-warm weather (knitting at the tables outside in the afternoon after shopping! In years past, there has been snow on the distant hillsides.) limited the wardrobe choices, so I wore a light scarf that showed off Damsel.

Endless Rainbow was such fun to knit that I made it twice in succession. I wore the blue and green version, which I dubbed “Limited Rainbow,” to SW:

2014-06-07_Scarf_Endless-Rainbow_navy-green-2

Pattern: Endless Rainbow by Martina Behm (Strickmich)
Yarn: 2.2 skeins Dale of Norway Baby Ull, 100% superwash wool, color 5755 (navy) and .35 skeins Dragonfly Fibers Damsel, 100% superwash merino wool, color Villainess (green)
Needles: US size 3
Size: 63″ across top, 13″ tall at triangle’s point
Started 5/23 and finished 6/7/2014

The pattern is wonderfully easy, all garter stitch with some simple short rows at the one edge. I had the short rows part memorized after 2 repeats, and I love the way the designer has you carry the contrast color up on the wrong side with a chain stitch — it means if you have big enough skeins, you only need to weave in 4 tails when you’re done!

I called the second one “Yellow Brick Road at the Emerald City,” and it’s in the big box of finished items.

2014-06-08_EndlessRainbow_Scarf_a_yellow-and-green

Pattern: Endless Rainbow by Martina Behm (Strickmich)
Yarn: 1.9 skeins Dale of Norway Baby Ull, 100% superwash wool, color 2317 (yellow) and .34 skeins Dragonfly Fibers Damsel, 100% superwash merino wool, color Villainess (green)
Needles: US size 3
Size: 61″ across top, 12″ tall at triangle’s point
Started 6/8 and finished 7/8/2014

No idea why the yellow one ended up slightly smaller. Size is easily adjustable, just keep repeating the pattern until you’re about to run out of yarn. Here are both of them together so you can see how very different the green appears against the two different main colors:

2014-06-08_EndlessRainbow_Scarves_together

I think the designer became known primarily for her Hitchhiker scarf. I saw quite a few of those on the market masses at SW and a bunch of Lefties, with lots of Lefties as samples in booths. I only saw one other Endless Rainbow.

Speaking of rainbows, June was also the month Afghans for Afghans had their baby shower event, in which they requested hats and socks for babies. I made a rainbow of socks and 3 hats in addition to my two scarves:

Hats-Socks_2014-07-01-Afghans-for-Afghans

I made the hats from yarn I unraveled from a vest that someone had donated to A4A at the last event, but couldn’t be used because it didn’t contain enough animal fiber. All are rice stitch on size 5 needles, 64 stitches around. The socks are all Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, 15g (55 yards) per sock, made on size 3 needles, 28 stitches around. Colors are Red Fox, Orange You Glad, Impasse Yellow, Elf Green, Navy Nite, and Amethyst. Baby socks are zippy little projects!

Post title from Mr. Burns, of course!

I went on a cardigan-making jag a while ago. How long? Let’s see… gads, over 18 months ago. It doesn’t feel that long ago, really — I swear I have project amnesia. You already saw the first two. The next 4 were all made with DROPS Fabel, which is pretty great stuff. It washes well, wears well, doesn’t fade much. My only quibble, and the reason I find Fabel only pretty great, is the large number of guard hairs I always have to fish out. Every few inches one of those buggers was poking me in the tensioning finger and I took the time to remove them because if they poke me, they sure as heck are going to poke the kid, and I don’t want to be responsible for a frustrated parent trying to figure out what invisible thing is making the kid uncomfortable.

All are size 12 months and all are made with two strands held together: one solid and one variegated.

First up, pink and orange:

Cardigan_2013_04_13_v-neck_Fabel-pink-orange_1

Pattern: own
Yarn: DROPS Fabel, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 1.7 skeins color 102 (solid pink) and 1.7 skeins color 310 (variegated pink/orange)
Needles: US size 4 for ribbing, size 6 for body
Size: 12 months
Started 3/18 and finished 4/13/2013

I was thrilled to find buttons that went with it so well!

Cardigan_2013_04_13_v-neck_Fabel-pink-orange_3_detail

Next up, turquoise:

Cardigan_2013_04_14_v-neck_Fabel-turquoise_1

Pattern: own
Yarn: DROPS Fabel, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 1.7 skeins color 105 (solid turquoise) and 1.7 skeins color 8073 (variegated light blue/green/lavender)
Buttons: JBH #20751
Needles: US size 4 for ribbing, size 6 for body
Size: 12 months
Started 4/6 and finished 4/14/2013

With night owl buttons!

Cardigan_2013_04_14_v-neck_Fabel-turquoise_3_detail

The red one is special because it went to the newborn son of a dear friend I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over a year. That’s long enough to make another human and surprise knitters you don’t see for a while; fortunately, I had this pile of sweaters ready and she could pick a color she liked.

Cardigan_2013_08_23_v-neck_Fabel-reds_1

Pattern: own
Yarn: DROPS Fabel, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 1.7 skeins color 106 (solid red) and 1.7 skeins color 543p (variegated red/peach/black/white)
Buttons: JBH #20751
Needles: US size 4 for ribbing, size 6 for body
Size: 12 months
Started 6/29 and finished 8/23/2013

Also with night owl buttons:

Cardigan_2013_08_23_v-neck_Fabel-reds_3_detail

And wrapping up the jag, navy variegated:

Cardigan-2013-11-02_v-neck_Fabel-navy-variegated-1

Pattern: own
Yarn: DROPS Fabel, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 1.7 skeins color 107 (solid navy) and 1.7 skeins color 1124 (variegated navy/royal/tan/white)
Buttons: Dill Buttons #1321
Needles: US size 4 for ribbing, size 6 for body
Size: 12 months
Started 8/8 and finished 11/2/2013

Leftovers from these cardigans and other projects turned into booties:

Booties_2013_07_06_4-pairs

Booties_2013_12_17

This brings me to this week, during which I started another little cardigan. This one’s a request:

2015-02-10_Loopy-cardigan-WIP

Gray Muppet, eh?

Rubber bands… they convert 7″ double points to straights and gather the fabric to keep 117 stitches worth of Kimono Shawl in progress from falling off the technically too-short needles.

Kimono Shawl WIP

If I break one, no problem. They come free with takeout menus that I find hanging on the building doorknob a few times a week, which means I have an endless supply. And I’m always surprised to find knitters out there who don’t know this trick.

Blooming bougainvillea courtesy of a neighboring building.

Nearly 3 years ago, I made a little sweater for my co-worker’s baby daughter.¬† Of all the hundreds of things I’ve made over the years, this one’s at the top of my personal list of favorites. Love the design, love how the colors work. Here’s a little photo to refresh your memory:

2011_12_18_BabyFairIsle_b_front

Today, my co-worker commented that she saw the sweater at a friend’s house a few days ago and wondered that her daughter was ever so small, especially because it was too big when I gave it. I said, “oh, it’s still around!?” And she said it’s on its way to its fourth or fifth wearer, with three more kids lined up (I guess the sets of parents are lined up) to inherit it afterward. Now that’s one heck of a compliment for this knitter! I’m pleased that it’s so appreciated!

Watermelon… ick. While it’s a staple at many Independence Day picnics, I don’t like the taste, I don’t like the smell, and if it’s been anywhere near a fruit salad, I have to pass the salad by. Visually, though, it’s quite a handsome fruit, so I have no objection whatsoever to having these on my person:

Socks-2014-04-12-Watermelon_Knitters-Brewing-Company

Pattern: Watermelon Slice Socks by Wendy Gaal
Yarn: Knitter’s Brewing Company Sock-aholic in color 175: Watermelon Fizz, no dye lot; beads plus wee white and green skeins came with the kit
Needles: US size 1.5 for cuff and heel, size 1 for foot
Size: women’s 9.5
Started 3/6 and finished 4/12/2o14

As posted a few months ago, I used two dice to determine random seed (bead) placement. I rolled them and how the two numbers landed side by side indicated how many stitches between seeds. A 2-4 means 24 stitches, a 4-2 meant 42. Every once in a while, I would take artistic license if seeds were lining up too closely together and space them further apart. So, not totally random, but random enough.

The instructions have you put beads all the way through, but I can’t imagine having lumpy beads inside my shoes! My watermelon is a hybrid variety: seeded and seedless in one fruit.

A boy about 6 years old on a bicycle stopped while I had these lined up on the park bench, wanting to know “What are you doing?” His tone was priceless and I wish I could convey it here. Me, responding with my usual creativity, “taking a picture of my socks.” Him: “They look like a melon.” Me: “yes, they’re supposed to.” And then his dad hustled him way from the weirdo who carried her socks to the park. A photo shoot, though… be still my heart. This year has been quite unusual, weather-wise, sunny sunny sunny, but July has arrived and with it the summer fog, which means I was finally able to take photos of finished items today. Drat the sun, washing everything out for months on end.

2014-07-04-dahlias-GGPark-1

Dahlias filling in as fireworks…

Happy 4th, all! I have no desire to join the teeming hordes at the waterfront to look at the official fireworks; crowds are not my thing. Tonight it wouldn’t make any sense as it is: at most, the spectators are going to see the fog glow with Technicolor brilliance. I drove 4 hours south last weekend [visited mom, and her sweater fits!! so all I have to do is weave in ends now] and observed out the window that the state is one big brush fire waiting to happen, so I hope folks in general tonight have the good sense to put down the matches and walk away.

Feeling disgusted after an abysmal day shopping last weekend, on which I tried and failed to find new casual pants that are not skinny leg or quasi-yoga wear thank-you-very-much, I went to the thrift store this morning to root through non-modern pants, and spied across the room what looked like Kureyon sock yarn. Abandoning all thought of bottoms, I rushed for the sweater rack and found that a knitter’s pile of handmade pullovers somehow ended up hanging between nylon monstrosities in the thrift store. I rooted through those racks and here’s the haul, for a thrifty $24:

2014-05-31-thrifted-sweaters

They are all fine yarn sweaters in stockinette stitch with seed stitch cuffs and bottom edges, drop shoulders with cropped sleeves, and a wide neckline edged in single crochet, obviously made using the same pattern. They are lovely, but too wide and too short for me so I am going to unravel and re-use the yarn for other projects, so the first step is identifying the yarn. The top two feel like Kureyon Sock, the red and the tan ones feel like Koigu KPPPM, and I don’t know about the other two but the bright aqua mix feels like it has a bit of elastic in it and the gray-navy is soft and a little fuzzy, Madelinetosh something or other, maybe. I don’t need more yarn (really and truly), but I also couldn’t bear to leave them there for the shoddy shredder, where I’m sure they’re going to end up if they don’t sell because they don’t have a brand or size label in them.

I haven’t finished anything in weeks. I lost my knitting mojo before my vacation, had no time to knit during vacation, and sprained my right ring finger on the first day of my vacation so it didn’t matter that I had no time. Back home, I’m keeping the finger mostly splinted for a few weeks, but for a knitter and spinner that makes for a dull life so I started knitting this week a little, carefully, and only in short spurts on a scarf.

Scarf

This is Endless Rainbow by Martina Behm. I’m calling mine Limited Rainbow.

Glove in progress sees Roman ruins

In Bliesbruck-Reinheim. This was all the airplane knitting I did on the flight to Germany, with some unraveling and re-knitting here and there during the trip. I am generally way too busy visiting people to get much knitting time, plus I slightly sprained a finger somehow on day 1, slowing knitting progress on this project.

Knitting is usually nothing except pretty darn orderly, and I do well with orderly (anyone peeking at my desk might question this bold self-assessment, not knowing there’s a method to the madness). This is probably why I took so well to my hobby when I learned it nearly 20 years ago. Sometimes, though, you get a project that specifies random action. How random it really can be when I’m the one choosing the arbitrariness of bead placement, I don’t know. But there’s help for us precise types: a quick stop at the games shelf this morning yielded a couple of chance cubes which are now helping me place beads in the watermelon sock in progress:

Socks WIP

It’s a simple enough method: I rub the dice in my hands (I would never find them again if I were to toss them while riding the bus) and read them left to right. The reading above is 3-5 so I work 35 stitches before putting a bead on the next knit stitch. Had the 5 been on the left, I would work 53. There are 60 stitches per round and the dice method gives me between 11 and 66 stitches between beads. I’ll decide after about 20 rounds whether I need to increase the interval so I don’t run out of beads before the heel flap. I’m not putting beads on the foot part, imagining that will be quite uncomfortable in a shoe.

I pawed through the stash this week and pulled out three balls of purples which accompanied me to quilting group yesterday (I definitely socialize there but am a quilting lurker, just go to ogle the lovely quilts) and to the Laundromat today (such a life of glamor here at Mmm… Yarn), and are now working up into a rather nice-looking hat:

Purples hat WIP

I like the way the different textures here work together; the yarns are wool, cotton (duller than the wool), and a wool/polyester blend (shinier).¬†Sometimes cleaning random things out of the stash works in one’s favor.

I took a brisk walk in the park late this afternoon and saw the trees have gotten their annual pruning to remove all the twiggy little bits they grow in spring and summer. They now look knobby, like their branches are a bunch of clubs reaching up into the sky. I lay down on a bench to get this shot upward.

Knobby trees

A bunch of the birds I saw were toting strands of things in their beaks as they flew overhead. This means nesting time is coming soon!

Friday’s “to do” list, had I written one, would have looked something like this: wake up at 4:30am due to weird dreams, including one about arriving at Stitches West without cash (so stupid to dream this, because vendors all take credit cards); drift in a semi-awake state until 6:30am to pretend this was a full night’s sleep; write SW shopping list because did not take the time during the week due to frantic last-minute knitting on massive sweater; weave in ends on sweater while oatmeal cooks, spit-splicing having reduced number of ends to make this a manageable morning task; drive an hour; wander market for 2 hours; long lunch; wander market for 2.5 more hours; meet up with friends for knitting and dinner and more knitting; drive home, arriving a little after 11pm.

Whew, what an exhausting day that was! I woke up so tired yesterday that I barely dragged myself out the door for Saturday errands and didn’t have the wherewithal to play with my new toys in the afternoon, which makes today play day. Here’s this year’s loot:

2014_02_20_StitchesWest_loot

Dollars-wise, I spent about as much as the last 3 years, but came home with less yardage. I added 5,010 yards (2.85 miles) and 8 ounces of fiber to the stash this year and apparently I was in the mood for green, which didn’t notice until I unpacked the shopping bag.

Left to right across the top: mini-skein of Regia sock yarn that I cast on while wandering, Kollage square needles, stitch markers from Miss Purl, lip balm and lotion bar from Bar-Maids, 2 bags from Erin Lane, 10 skeins Cascade 220 Paints. Left to right across the bottom: black alpaca/silk and Falkland fiber from The Sassy Sheep, 2 skeins DK weight from Oink Pigments, 5 skeins Traveller from The Verdant Gryphon, Damsel from Dragonfly Fibers. At the bottom: Silk Sock from Red Fish Dyeworks.

The stitch markers from Miss Purl were on my shopping list; I didn’t have any large enough to use on a size 10 needle. These are great because the rings she uses are solid, meaning they won’t snag on your yarn while you’re working or stretch out and split. I bought the lotion bar as a comparison to my own lotion bar. [A couple of friends came over last weekend and we made caramel candy and lotion bars (in separate pots, I assure you). The bar was nearly as sticky an affair as the caramel because the honey oozed out after the bar hardened. A couple of days of resting on a towel and some rinses under the tap made it so I can actually use it without wearing it permanently. Sticking a bar to my dry shins might be an effective moisturizing treatment but I’d end up with a puddle of beeswax in my socks and that’s just not the look I’m going for.]

The sweater I began on February 1 was in a wearable state so I wore it to SW; however, it was over 70 degrees outside and about the same inside, so I carried it more than wore it (bulky wool/silk yarn + summery weather = NO). I had hoped to find buttons and did find one style I liked, but $18 a button isn’t happening when I need 5 of them.

Cardigan_2014_02_Emerald_Noro-Iro_WIP

It’s not completely finished. I used two balls of yarn for the buttonband/collar so the stripes would match, but at the back of the neck where I twisted them around each other intarsia-style, I twisted them on the wrong side. I didn’t pay attention that it’s a foldover collar until I was on the last two rows and the twists are visible, so I need to rip and re-knit the buttonband and collar. I also may lop a few inches off the sleeves after blocking; my swatch ended up shorter after blocking so they may be OK, must wait and see.

Today’s lunch is simmering on the stove: a root vegetable stew, because although winter isn’t really happening (it’s warm with sparkling sunshine outside now), the root vegetables know it’s winter and they’re what’s to be had at the farmers’ market.

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