Pink spark

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That is really what I should have called these socks. I finished them the day after my last post and, like a spark in dry leaves, they have ignited my knitting. The black shrug I’m knitting for my mum is almost done and, even better, I discovered that it was interesting and fun (discovering this while knitting, and re-knitting black stockinette sleeves is no small feat), and I’ve just cast on for a pair of striped socks for L.

And really, that’s just the beginning. I have plans brewing for fall, starting with finishing my Epistrophy, which I put aside after finishing the body because I wanted to knit Balta. I have no regrets about that decision, but I’m excited to pick it back up: it needs two quick sleeves and then I get to join it all and knit that fantastic yoke. I can’t wait. The timing, I think, will have me finishing it just as the weather turns cold enough to wear it, and it’s hard to beat that.

In more ephemeral, sometime-soon plans, I have a shawl (and, before that, I hope to finish my long lingering Halligarth) and then I’ll be into the holiday knitting and all the momentum that brings with it.

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Where I think I’ll be finding the time to knit all these things I’m not sure, but I can’t help but believe things have to settle down eventually. We’re getting more and more moved-in and settled in our new place, and though work will probably just stay steadily busy, I think I’ll be able to build a bit of knitting time into my routine each day.

Anyway, these socks. I noticed last winter that I’d worn right through both heels of my first pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks, and though I darned them pretty effectively, looking at them made me want another pair. It was a pattern I’d always meant to return to, but you know how that goes. There are so many great patterns out there, and I just never quite made it back around.

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I got this yarn for my birthday and thought it would be a good match. The colours are fun and the self-patterning was speckled enough that it wasn’t interrupted by the stitches. (Some self-patterning yarn creates real images, but this was more stripes and specks — I double-checked on Ravelry before starting. I love that feature of the stash page.) I purposefully didn’t bother matching them, though I could have pretty easily I think. I like how the casual almost-matching echoes the uneven stripes and semi-solid colours, and I love the effect. This probably isn’t a colourway I would have picked for myself, but that’s the best thing about being yarn, and this was a gift from very good friends who clearly have a good sense of my taste (even when I don’t!) The best part, though, is that I have more than enough yarn left over to knit some matching socks for Amber.

Details
Pattern: Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder
Yarn: ONline Supersocke Canaria Colour #1448
Needles: 2.25mm
Notes: I basically just plugged the stitch pattern into my basic sock pattern and then knit on autopilot. The result is socks that fit exactly the way I like, but ribbing that doesn’t quite flow. I forgot to use 1×1 rib, which makes for nice columns of unbroken knit stitches all the way down. It’s fine, but if I knit these again (likely), I’ll have to remember that. I also rushed a bit through the top of the first sock, so the leg part is about an inch shorter than I’d usually prefer. It’s still fine and will be great all fall, though maybe a little short to wear with boots in the winter. We’ll see. Ravelled here.

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It’s back

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You know how sometimes you don’t want to say something, even though you feel it, because somehow saying it out loud (or writing it down in public) makes it true? Well, I kind of lost my knitting excitement for a little while there, and now that it’s back, I feel like I can talk about it.

After finishing Balta, a project I was so happy with, I had a little cooling off period. That’s pretty normal for me after finishing a big project, and I was happy to work away on my Halligarth, but then between extra-long hours at work, the weeks of packing, and working on a project that was, frankly, boring (though going fine, and intended for someone who will love it), I just kind of lost it. I lost that drive to pick up my needles during downtime, and I didn’t have the compulsion to plan my next project — I was just kind of stuck, and I didn’t want to talk about it because it scared me. Since I started knitting, it has been a constant source of, well, comfort. It’s a creative, productive, de-stressing outlet, and something I love, and to suddenly not be inspired by it was a shock. (I still tried to get in a few rows everyday, but they were boring rows, and in a way more like practicing piano scales than working on a song, if that makes sense.)

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I can talk about that now because the doldrums are over. We moved on the weekend and somehow amid the chaos of the half-unpacked boxes and the fun of setting up a new home, I found my knitting joy again. I had planned to do a bunch of sewing this week (I’m on holiday from work, and since my knitting wasn’t inspiring me, I made other plans), but aside from washing my fabric I haven’t made a single move toward my machine. Instead, in every free moment, I’ve been knitting away on these socks, which have been on my needles since May. May.

Our very dear friends (and parents of the adorable, adorable Amber) gave me two skeins of sock yarn for my birthday, and I cast on for a pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks almost immediately, knit through the leg, heel and gusset of the first one, and then got caught up in other things. I picked them up on Monday and am now nearly finished the pair. They’re exactly the right kind of simple project I need right now, plus, the colours are fun and the yarn is from good friends I already miss.

Has this ever happened to you? I’ve definitely done through periods where I was less excited about what was on my needles and more excited about planning and stashing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever gone through a period where none of it seemed exciting. Thank goodness it’s over!

So, this is happening

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I apologize for my extended absence, but there’s a whole other project on the go over here, and it’s not much fun to look at it. After six fantastic years in Toronto (during which time, L and I met — just weeks after we each moved here — fell in love, moved in together, and, while in Switzerland, got engaged!) we are moving. And not just apartments, but cities.

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L was offered a great job in Ottawa, so off we go. My job, which continues to grow and get more time consuming (but also more interesting), has made it possible for me to just take everything I do in Toronto and move it to Ottawa with me (there’s a bureau there I’ll work out of), which removed the only real impediment we had. I’m very excited to see our new place (L was there to see it — don’t worry, we aren’t moving in based solely on photos) and get to know our new neighbourbood, and city, but there are a lot things I’ll miss about Toronto. That’s going to have to wait for a whole other post, though, because our moving date is mere days away and there is still so, so much packing to do.

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Thank goodness my stash is pretty well packed all the time. I just had bit and pieces to box up, and as you can see, I made sure to do that first. (I also set aside lots of project-ready yarn, in case unpacking takes longer than anticipated. I don’t want to have to go looking around fr something to work on.) Priorities, right?

It’s a start

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So, this happened.

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Last weekend I did a tapestry weaving workshop (taught by the woman behind Roving Handmade Textiles) and while this may not be the most beautiful piece of weaving, it is my first one, and it has given me so many ideas! Ever since the Woolful episode where Maryanne Moodie was interviewed, I’ve been growing increasingly interested in tapestry weaving, so when I saw workshops posted that I could actually go to (yay for Saturday classes!) I signed up without hesitation. I am so glad I did!

This piece is really just a sampler of sorts, which is why it’s mounted on a knitting needle (I just needed to find something for the photos). Basically, I started without much of a plan, and then then each time Michelle taught us something new, I’d try it out (and then usually repeat it so I didn’t immediately forget). This piece isn’t really destined for our wall, but I’m proud of it nonetheless. Learning something new is fun and challenging and not always immediately beautiful, and that’s okay.

This is how much I managed to get done in the workshop. (Photo by Michelle)

This is how much I managed to get done in the workshop. (Photo by Michelle)

Weaving has a very different rhythm than knitting or sewing, and I like that it lets me think about colour and form in a totally different way. Also, it is a great way to use up stash yarn that I either don’t have enough of to knit anything useful with, or bought a while ago and no longer love for a garment. L was initially a bit concerned about the idea of me picking up yet another craft, but the loom comes apart without any screws (such a smart design — you can but the same one here, if you’re so inclined) and since weaving and knitting laregly overlap in the supplies department, I think it will be okay.

I haven’t started my next project yet, but I am thinking about it, and once I find a good warping string, I’ll be ready to go. Yay for learning new things!

Balta

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Oh my gosh, you guys, I actually finished something. It feels like it has been ages (and, according to Ravelry, it has been nearly two months!) since I finished anything, and it feels fantastic. That the finished knit is Balta, my dream summer top, makes it feel that much better.

Normally, I would wait for some proper photos before posting about an FO, but honestly, I have no idea when we’ll be able to take those. I’m working much longer days now, and that plus the unseasonable coolness and general mayhem of summer is making it hard to squeeze in photoshoots (I have a couple of sewn things to post about too, if I ever get photos). All of which is to say, I’m sorry that these are boring on-a-hanger shots, but they’re the best I could do, and at least my hair isn’t covering up any of the pretty details.

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I haven’t really posted about Balta (I haven’t really posted about much, have I?), but I cast on at the end of April and, what with one thing and another, cast off at the beginning of July. I had originally thought I’d squeak this in under the TTTKAL deadline, but that was definitely a faint hope. I’m glad I didn’t rush things though, because giving up on the deadline gave me time to make a few little changes and think about what I was doing, which served me well in the long run.

Gudrun’s design is really fantastic, and the instructions are clear and concise. The front and back are knit exactly the same until the lace, so I knit each piece that far and then decided which one I thought was better and used that for the front. My gauge was a little uneven on the first piece I knit (it always takes me a while to get used to linen), so that became the back, and actually, everything blocked out nicely. For the front, I knit the lace as written, but I was worried about the depth of the neck — it looked … shallow, so I left the shoulders on waste yarn and knit up the back lace, then pinned the two sets of shoulders together and tried it on. And yes, it was too snug (for me) at the neck. I suspect my row gauge was off, so I just knit anther repeat on each side (this isn’t specifically worked into the pattern, but is easy to figure out), omitting the decreases, and perfect!

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Of course, that extra repeat added depth to the armholes and when I finished the shoulders and tried everything on I was convinced I’d made a hideous error. The armholes were enormous, showing, frankly, almost my whole bra from the side (and a bit from the front), and the lace section at the front seemed too narrow and I really thought all was lost. I considered ripping all the way back and reknitting, but instead I did something sensible: I seamed the sides and followed the instructions for finishing the armholes. I just did one side, since it seemed like a lot less work to rip that out than to rip and reknit the whole top of the front, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re just fine. I always forget about the way picking up stitches changes the drape and shape of fabric, and in this case it changed a drooping hole into a nice, tailored armhole. What a relief (and thank goodness I didn’t rip everything out!).

I did add a couple of garter ridges to the armhole, just to ensure there was enough width to cover my bra straps, but other than that I didn’t change anything about them. (I had contemplated adding a couple of short rows to the bottom, to fill in some of the depth, but it wasn’t necessary.)

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I found the perfect little mother of pearl button in my stash to finish the back (and it was a single, so I didn’t have to break up a set), and that’s that. I am really pleased with this top, which is loose and breezy, without being shapeless, and will add some proper modelled shots when I get them.

Details
Pattern: Balta by Gudrun Johnston (from the Shetland Trader Book 2, but also available as a single pattern)
Yarn: Quince & Co. Sparrow in Blue Spruce
Notes: As noted above, I changed the order of construction (knitting both pieces up to the lace, rather than knitting each one to completion). I also added an extra repeat to the lace front after the neck decreases were complete, and added an extra garter ridge to the armhole. Ravelled here.

Here and There

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Funny, sheepy sign above a little restaurant in Villars, Swizerland.

Funny, sheepy sign above a little restaurant in Villars, Swizerland.

Whoa. I did not mean to disappear for so long! It turns out that two trips in three weeks does quite a number on your to-do list, and I’m only just starting to feel caught up (this is my first full weekend at home in five weeks! It feels like magic). Anyway, in lieu of mountain photos (they are coming, even if only for myself at this point) or anything finished (Balta is so close!) here are a bunch of interesting things I’ve read/watched/seen in the last month or so.

  • Google Sheep View! It’s exactly what it sounds like and I can’t get enough of it.
  • Speaking of sheep, apparently Switzerland’s rail line keeps flocks of sheep to “mow” the land near the tracks. We didn’t get to visit them (sad face), but there is a whole blog dedicated to the sheep, and written from their point of view, on the SBB’s website.
  • 3-D printed clothing. I’m really not sure about this (looks a bit plastic-y to me), but it will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere.
  • Fleeced! Etymology is fascinating, and if the medieval wool trade was indeed this corrupt, I’m not surprised that’s a word we still use (albeit rarely).
  • “The first step in the process is deciding what you need, which can be surprisingly difficult.” — from The Life of a Garment: The Planning Process, part of a great little series in Paste by Elizabeth Hyer, about creating a handmade wardrobe.
  • Karen released the latest Fringe Hatalong pattern and it’s a worsted-weight version of Gudrun Johnston’s Hermaness Hat. Although I am not a big hat wearer, I regret that every winter, so maybe I should just buckle down and knit this one, which I like quite a bit (I was already eyeing the original). Is it crazy to be thinking about hats and mitts when the weather is just starting to fully turn to summer?
  • Finally: What do I do with these garlic scapes? I see them every year and am always curious, so I finally bought some. Now what? (I am googling, but I always appreciate recommendations.)

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MMM recap

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I had intended my next post to be a mountain-photo extravaganza, but then I realized that if I didn’t do a Me Made May roundup now, I probably never would. I didn’t do weekly updates here, as some other bloggers did, and at the end I didn’t even post photos to Instagram with any kind of regularity, but I did continue to take them. So, here we go, Me Made May 2015, in one handy, approximately chronological, collage:

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I’m not going to list every piece in every photo — if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably recognize all the knitwear, and almost everything is detailed on Instagram (at least when I posted there)/Ravelry or under the Sewing tab at the top of this page. There are a few tops up there that I haven’t gotten around to blogging, but they’re all Scout Tees. Far and away, my two favourites are my Double Gauze Scout (dark blue with white polka dots) and my Chambray Scout (very lightweight, with a pocket — centre of the second row). They’re both easy to wear, fit fantastically (I think) through the shoulders and bust, and stand up well to a full day’s wear (ie: they don’t wrinkle horrendously). It was really too chilly to wear many skirts or dresses, but as summer gathers steam I think another Madeleine skirt is definitely in the cards for me — I love wearing the feathered one I made last year, and I think a second one in a drapier fabric would be fantastic.

Knitwear-wise, there’s a whole lot of orange up there, so you can be sure I’m planning more lightweight cardigans (which I also mentioned in my last post). I also wore both Shaelyn and Flukra a lot, though they didn’t always make it into the photos, so another biggish shawl or two would not go amiss (also mentioned in my last post). One thing my handknit wardrobe is definitely lacking, though, is lightweight knit tops. I have some good winter sweaters, but basically nothing for warmer weather, which is something I really want to change. I’m knitting away on Balta right now, that’s a start, but I was really inspired by the way Natalie layered her lightweight knits (here and here, for example), and it made me reconsider how versatile a knit tank could be. It also makes me think I should revisit my Kit Camisole, which I never wear because I find it about an inch too short and don’t love the placement of the straps — ripping out the top and adding a little length before reknitting would be a pretty easy fix for that though, and then I’d have a new summer top with much less knitting!

In my initial pledge post I stated that my two goals for the month were to assess the handmade wardrobe that I have, and figure out where I wanted it to go, and that I wanted to think more how dressing in general, and why I wear what I wear and why I like what I like. Those two things are definitely related, since obviously what I wear and like will affect what I choose to make, but I did find it useful to think about them separately. For me, splitting those two things apart meant that instead of just saying “I need more lightweight cardigans,” I was able to be more precise about what that meant. So, I need more lightweight cardigans like Grace, which have some visual interest, but are otherwise simple to wear; I really like that Grace is a bright colour, but for the next one I should probably knit in a neutral (warmish grey, I think), and then alternate colour and neutral going forward, so ensure easy layering; etc.

All in all, I think the month was a success, and I’m excited about the prospect of tackling it again in a year. Mostly though, I’m excited about the perspective it gave me on what I make and why, and how that will help organize my making going forward. With my sock drawer pretty well sorted, I’m excited to shift my attention more to garment knitting, which is a slower process that I think suits where I am right now.

All right, that’s probably enough about wardrobe planning for one week. Next time: mountains!

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